Like electronic gadgets that need to recharge to maintain its functions, our bodies need to rest and sleep to maintain overall health. Sleep plays a vital role in stabilizing our physical, mental and emotional health. It is a basic human need and embracing the necessity for quality sleep should be nothing new.
Aside from the health essentials that sleep brings, it is also very important for muscle recovery. If you are training for a sports event or just a fitness enthusiast enjoying physical training, a quality sleep should be part of your list. Find out more how sleep can affect your muscles for growth and complete recovery.
The Stages of Sleep
A better understanding on how sleep affects muscle health is best taken with the knowledge of the sleep stages. There are 2 stages of sleep that balance out the body’s recovery process.
REM (Rapid Eye Movement) Sleep
This stage of sleep accounts for about 25% of the total sleep time and it occurs in cycles of around 90 minutes. This stage dominates the last few hours of sleep and is responsible for restoring brain energy.
Non-REM sleep is also known as Deep Sleep or Slow-Wave Sleep and it accounts for approximately 40% of your sleep time. This stage is the one responsible for muscle growth and total body recovery. It is at this stage where the breathing is deeper and when blood pressure drops.
How does sleep help in muscle recovery?
According to Charles Vallena, sleep enthusiast at SleepMatters, your body is actually repairing itself from everything it has been through during non-REM sleep. A gland in the body known as the pituitary gland secretes the growth hormone during sleep.
This hormone is directly responsible for muscle repair. It is also an essential component in tissue growth. That is why when you have sufficient sleep, you are promoting muscle growth by letting the growth hormone do its work.
A sound sleep also promotes the transformation of glucose into glycogen. Glucose is a compound necessary for energy use. Once it is converted into glycogen, it is then stored in muscle tissues for their own use. The cells in these tissues make use of the energy in the form of glycogen for muscle contraction and relaxation cycles.
In general, your body is in an anabolic state while you are asleep. This state is the body’s overall chance to repair itself, and not just the muscle tissues. At this state, it rejuvenates areas of the body that have endured most of the stress and used up a huge chunk of energy.
How many hours a day should I sleep to optimize muscle health?
If you are training for optimal muscle growth, you should mind how many hours of sleep you get in a day. Not only will it affect the growth of your muscles, but it will also prepare your body for training and exercise the next day.
Optimizing muscle health is possible with 7 to 9 hours of sleep. A recent recommendation of an average of 9 hours and 15 minutes of sleep for athletes has been published in various sports medicine references.
Minding about the growth of your muscles not only entails the right amount of sleep. You will also need to consider the quality of sleep that you will get. Excessive amounts of sleep will not promote muscle growth if your body isn’t optimally rested.
Always aim for uninterrupted, comfortable and the right amount of sleep every day. Remember that both quantity and quality of sleep will help you and your goals for muscle growth.
Does sleep deficiency affect muscle growth?
Without adequate sleep, your muscles don’t have the optimal chance to repair itself. It is also depleted of the chance to grow. Shrinking your sleeping time will also shrink your muscle mass. A good cooling mattress can help you sleep faster, avoiding the risk of sleep deficiency. This guide on mattress types will help you find the one that suits your sleeping position.
Studies have shown that those who sleep less have an average of 60% less muscle mass than those who sleep for an average of 8 hours.
Poor sleep also provides your body with poor energy. This will not efficiently contribute to the training and activities for the next day. This can also lead to a poor muscle performance because of the lack of energy.
Does sleep aid in weight loss?
Sleep directly affects the weight you gain, maintain and lose. Sleep improves your metabolism and therefore promotes weight loss. And one of the major signals for your muscle to hypertrophy is weight loss, leading to a more defined muscle tone.
Likewise, having little to no sleep can trigger weight gain. This is because the lack of sleep spikes up your cortisol levels. This hormone signals your body to conserve more energy, and hang on to fat. Sleep deprivation then hampers your metabolic activity, contributing to weight gain.
How Can I Optimize Sleep for Muscle Growth?
Optimizing the overall condition of your muscles is a piece of cake when you have quality sleep, aside from your training and healthy eating habits. Here are things you can do before you sleep for optimal muscle growth.
- Don’t work out a few hours before bed time. Your body should not be active 3 hours before you hit the sheets to optimize muscle recovery.
- Hydrate with water before, during and after every work out session.
- Don’t consume caffeinated products before you hit the sack. This will only hinder you from sleeping soundly after lying down.
- Shower with warm water to help your body relax your muscles before you sleep.
- Have a comfortable room temperature. A cool room temperature will aid you in your sleep and it also promotes continuous sleep throughout the night.
The quantity and quality of sleep will get your muscles in good shape as sleep promotes recovery and growth. It is a win-win situation when you sleep more after training as it prepares your body for the next day’s hustle.
Shutting your body down at the right time only provides your muscles with more energy to store and a longer chance to repair itself. In addition to your exercise regimen, balanced diet, and skill training, a sound sleep can enhance your muscles.