Your alarm sounds, jolting you awake. Your eyes are tired and your muscles sore. You stretch your arms above your head and groan, dreading the long day ahead of you; already tired.
In today’s bustling world, this is the story for many. Sleep takes a back seat to our jobs, kids, hobbies, the gym, and pretty much everything else. Sound familiar?
According to research, nearly 35% of adults aren’t getting the recommended 7+ hours of sleep per night. And if building a healthy strong body is on your to-do list, a lack of adequate sleep is causing more than a few yawns during the day.
It’s stunting your muscle growth.
The good news is, by prioritizing your sleep and routinely getting the recommended amount (7 to 9 hours per night), you can increase muscle growth, encourage better muscle recovery, and get closer to your goals – no fancy Fit Tea needed.
But first, here’s a quick refresher on what sleep really is – since it’s not just one “thing.”
- 2 stages: REM sleep (when dreams occur) and NREM sleep (non-REM).
- 4 stages of NREM: Stage 1 (light sleep), Stage 2 (bulk of sleep cycle, fully asleep), Stage 3 (deepest sleep and extremely important for muscle growth), REM (Rapid Eye Movement – dreams occur)
- Pass through these stages every 90 minutes – averaging 4-5 cycles per night.
Now that you understand the complexity of sleep, let’s get into the ways it can help you build muscle (and perform better).
- Happy Hormones
There are two types of hormones directly related to your muscles: anabolic and catabolic. Anabolic hormonespromote muscle growth and catabolic hormones contribute to muscle loss.
One of the most important anabolic hormones is known as Growth Hormone (GH). As the name implies, GH is highly important to muscle growth – and it just so happens the release of GH is tightly tied with a good night’s sleep.
Recent research published in The Journal of Pediatrics shows that 70% of GH is secreted during Stage 3 sleep, and that the amount of GH released is correlated to the amount of Stage 3 sleep you get.
In layman’s terms: The more time you spend in Stage 3 sleep, the more GH that’s released into your body. Meaning more muscle growth for you.
- Rapid Recovery
When you sleep, your body is busy recovering from daily activities – especially your time spent exercising. The only way for muscle growth to occur is for muscle protein synthesis (the building of muscle) to outweigh muscle protein degradation (the breakdown of protein).
Research shows that protein synthesis happens primarily at night, while we’re sleeping. Sleep is critical to the recovery of your muscles, and recovery is critical to muscle growth.
Without the proper amount of sleep, your muscles will break down instead of grow, hindering your progress. Not to mention you’ll be sorer and possibly moody.
Sleep isn’t just important for proper cognitive functioning, it’s absolutely vital if you want to gain muscle and continue improving your body composition. So put on your favorite pajamas, sip a soothing mug of herbal tea, and hit the sheets early tonight – you’ve got muscle to build!
3. Brain Refresh
When you’re sleeping, levels of adenosine decline. Adenosine is a neurotransmitter that produces ATP, the energy-storage molecule that powers most of the biochemical reactions inside cells. Research has shown that adenosine plays a major role in both facilitating sleep and increasing wakefulness.
The fact that levels decline while you’re sleeping suggest that the brain is resting and recharging. Meaning you’ll wake up refreshed and ready to tackle another day.
Without sleep, reaching your goals of building muscle and getting stronger will be a lot harder–if not impossible. So get your rest! And if you struggle getting to sleep or staying asleep, here are a few of my best tips