A sophisticated workout routine, taking the latest supplements, and eating all types of protein are some ways that bodybuilders use to grow their muscles. Just as these things are important in muscle gain, sleep is the most important of all. Without insufficient sleep, your body will not adapt to the new changes even with the best training programs and diet plans.
As bodybuilders have to train harder to build muscles, they have to get adequate sleep to recover their muscles from injuries. Moreover, sleep serves as a preparation period, meaning that it helps your muscles prepare for the next day.
Muscle Growth and Sleep:
Do you know your body uses glucose to use as energy? Glucose is the only sugar that is broken down by your body for energy. Other kinds of sugars are first converted into glucose so that your muscles can utilize them for energy.
When you fall asleep, your muscles store blood glucose in the form of muscle glycogen. Compared to glucose present in the liver and blood, the preferred location for glycogen storage is muscles because it generates more and a quick boost of energy when broken down into glucose. When you’re sleep-deprived, your muscle glycogen levels will deplete .
Human growth hormone (HGH) is also responsible for growing and recovering your muscles. HGH is required for your body to use amino acids (proteins) that you eat. High levels of HGH are secreted during sleep. It is estimated that 60-70% of HGH is secreted during early hours of sleep. Poor sleep quality negatively impacts the secretion of human growth hormone .
Poor Sleep = Poor Muscle Recovery and Performance:
The growth of your muscle mass is also associated with sleep quality. According to a study, the effect of sleep deprivation on muscle recovery was examined in two groups having a sleep-restricted schedule for 72 hours. One group was allowed to sleep 8.5 hours, and the other group for 5.5 hours per day. The results showed 40% more muscle mass in those who slept for 8.5 hours and 60% less muscle mass in those who only slept for 5.5 hours. This is how sleep affects your muscles’ growth .
Sleep and Bodybuilding:
The following effects of sleep are proof of why it is important in bodybuilding:
1. It Affects Your Workout Performance:
Sleep has a significant impact on workout performance, muscle growth, and fat loss efforts. One study reported that your body gives up when you’re sleep-deprived. It means that good sleep quality makes your body capable of pushing further .
2. It Has a Great Impact on Testosterone Levels:
A decrease in the secretion of anabolic hormones like testosterone has been linked with sleep deprivation. One study published in 2015 found that young men who were on sleep restriction for just one week and allowed to sleep for only 5 hours per night had their testosterone levels decreased by 13-15% .
Testosterone is an anabolic hormone that helps you build muscle mass and improves your workout performance.
3. It Promotes Fat Loss:
Promoting fat loss and preventing muscle breakdown are some prominent functions of adequate sleep. One study was conducted to examine the effects of sleep on 15 young people who did not sleep for one night. The results showed elevated levels of metabolites and proteins by fat tissue and increased protein breakdown by muscles .
How Much Sleep Is Required to Build Muscles?
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends 7-9 hours of sleep. However, how much sleep a person needs also varies according to the extent of training. Active individuals who are close to achieving their bodybuilding goals may also require more hours of sleep.
What About Naps?
Research says that daytime naps might be beneficial when you don’t get the time to sleep properly. However, it is not suitable to take naps as a regular substitute for a peaceful night’s sleep. Instead, you can improve your sleep quality to get adequate sleep.
Tips for Getting Adequate Sleep:
The following are some tips that can help you have adequate sleep:
1. Avoid Caffeine Before Bed:
By avoiding caffeine six hours before bed, you can prevent wakefulness and hyperactivity. According to a study published in 2013, total sleep time was reduced by 63 minutes and 41 minutes with moderate caffeine ingestion 3 hours and 6 hours before sleep, respectively . So, try avoiding caffeine at least 6 hours before bedtime.
2. Improve Sleep Hygiene:
Improving sleep hygiene has been associated with improved sleep quality and reduced time required for falling asleep. You can improve sleep hygiene by avoiding mobile or laptop usage and sticking to a consistent sleep routine.
3. Correct Your Sleeping Environment:
Humidity and an air-tight environment may disrupt your sleep. Ventilating your room might be effective in encouraging sleep. Avoid any noise to make your room a peaceful place for sleep.
4. Never Oversleep:
Oversleep can disrupt your sleep-wake cycle and set your body clock to different times. It can also make it hard to fall asleep.
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- Souissi N, Chtourou H, Aloui A, Hammouda O, Dogui M, Chaouachi A, et al. Effects of Time-of-Day and Partial Sleep Deprivation on Short-Term Maximal Performances of Judo Competitors. J Strength Cond Res 2013;27.
- Leproult R, Van Cauter E. Effect of 1 week of sleep restriction on testosterone levels in young healthy men. JAMA 2011;305:2173–4. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2011.710.
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