While you will be given lots of information on the importance of your diet for muscle growth, but many people still drastically underestimate the vital role that sleep plays in your muscle growth.
Obviously, you have to put the work in at the gym to get to a point where your muscles need to recover from something in the first place, but the very next thing you need to think about is how to balance your quality and quantity of sleep in with your training and diet, of course.
Let’s delve a little deeper and find out some more on this important topic for anyone looking to make those all-important gains with their training and build more muscle than ever!
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What role does your sleep play on muscle growth?
If you’re new to all of this, basically, what happens when you work out is build up a significant amount of microscopic tears in your muscles on the cellular level.
It’s these tears that need to repair, or you won’t progress your level of strength and grow your muscle tissue so that it’s bigger. As we mentioned at the start of the article, if you want to make the most of muscle repairs post-training, then the two main cogs in the machine are sleep and nutrition.
During your time asleep, your body enters a heightened anabolic state which essentially means your body uses your period of sleep to make repairs and revitalise the tissue in your body; muscle tissue included.
How much sleep do you need to effectively grow muscle?
Now that you know a rough outline of the role your sleep plays in the muscle growth process, we’re going to look at how much sleep you need.
While you sleep, your body will metabolise protein much quicker than when you’re in a woken state, so acquiring the right amount of sleep on a regular basis is absolutely vital to guarantee that your muscles are restored and recuperated suitably.
You need to make sure that you are prioritising sleep and that means enjoying sound slumber every evening when you’ve taken yourself off to bed; this rings true even more so on the days that you have been training.
Reputable sites, such as The Sleep Advisor offer reliable advice and this includes getting between seven and nine hours of sleep per night, for the average adult who isn’t training. When you are training, sleep-based experts cite that you need more sleep because you are recovering, therefore, it’s advised that you get between 8 to 10 hours of sleep each evening.
Understanding the sleep cycle for muscle growth
Now you have this better understanding of how much sleep you need, we can look at the stages of sleep that help make all of this happen. There are four stages of your sleep cycle, and this fluctuates between non-REM and REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep every hour and a half.
Stage 1: During the first stage at which you begin to drift off (you’re woken easily now too). Your brainwave patterns in stage one support your muscle memory and act to file the things you’ve learned in terms of movements during the day.
Stage 2: The next stage takes you into a light sleep and your brain activity will start to slow itself down. Your body relaxes as it prepares for a deep sleep; it’s at this point that the Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is produced. It also regulates the body’s metabolism.
Stage 3: the penultimate stage takes you into the deepest and more restorative part of the sleep cycle. This is when your blood supply to the muscles increases, increased levels of HGH is released and the highest amount of growth and repair occurs during this period too.
Prolactin; an anti-inflammatory hormone, is also released in this stage, and here lies a vital component for effective joint recovery.
Stage 4: Lastly, you enter the REM phase. You’ll now be experiencing fired-up brain activity when you’re most likely to have your dreams. Your muscles will now become supplied with additional amounts of oxygen to break down lactic acid.
What are the effects of your sleep on your muscle growth?
While you’re asleep, there is a lot going on with your body that you won’t even realise. One such process is the rise in levels of testosterone and the sleep-based hormone, melatonin. Both hormones do their fair share of making certain that the redevelopment and reproduction of your cells within the body are as effectual as possible.
So, with this in mind, if you don’t get the right amount and the correct quality of rest then your body will not be able to recuperate from the tearing you’ve inflicted on the muscles as part of your training.
Founder of www.calisthenics-101.co.uk. Training calisthenics since 2012.
Currently working on: 30 second one-arm handstand, muscle-up 360, straddle planche.