It seems no matter the time of year, we’re all bombarded with tips on eating right and working out; advice on everything from what you need to eat to lose weight, how many times a day you need to eat, the perfect time to work out, or what exercises you need to do to gain muscle. But one thing you will rarely hear about is how important sleep is to almost every aspect of your health. Sleep is vital for physical and mental recovery, but did you know it also plays a major role in your muscle growth? Yes, one of the most important parts of gaining muscle has nothing to do with the gym or your diet. And remember, muscle growth isn’t just about bulking up, but rather building strong, healthy muscles, regardless of size.
When training, your muscles will develop microscopic tears. In order to repair these tears, you must have proper nutrition as well as proper sleep. While you’re dreaming, your body enters repair mode where HGH, or human growth hormone, floods your blood stream. In addition to helping the body to repair, HGH also helps your body use the amino acids that are in the proteins you eat; one of the most vital components for muscle growth. To increase HGH release, it’s recommended to eat a combination of protein and carbohydrates within 30 minutes of a resistance training session. Then, in order to aide your body in repairing your muscles after that resistance training, you should aim for 8-10 hours of sleep. Non-training days, you can do a bit more or less, but be careful not to get too much sleep anytime, as that can reset your body’s natural clock, affecting the next night’s sleep.
Another bonus you are missing out on when you aren’t getting enough sleep is maximum replenishment of muscle glycogen. When you’re sleeping, glucose transitions from the blood to get stored in your muscles as muscle glycogen. This is actually the preferred location of glucose because it produces more energy than blood glucose.
Now that you’ve seen the benefits of sleep in aiding the recovery of your muscles, it’s important to understand the results of not getting enough sleep. In a study conducted in 2011 it was shown that those who received less than 8.5 hours of sleep showed 60% less muscle mass. Poor sleep can also result in poor performance. When you don’t get enough sleep, your energy levels drop and your mood suffers. Not only is it physically harder to perform, but your emotional mindset can directly affect your performance as well.
While it may seem like you just can’t miss that next episode of that great Netflix show you’ve been binge watching, or scrolling through social media for far too long right before bed, remember that your physical and mental health are on the line. Getting a good night’s sleep is not only going to keep your energy levels up so you can perform well the next day, but it intensifies the results you’ll see from all that hard work you’ve been putting in at the gym. And who doesn’t want to see results faster?