Did you know you can build muscles even while sleeping? The three aspects of the muscle building pyramid are nutrition, training and rest. Most of us pay close attention to the first two factors but frequently ignore the third and suffer the consequences. Sleep isn’t a luxury for the human body, it’s a genuine necessity. Extended periods of sleep deprivation can lead to amnesia, delusions and hallucinations. Shorter stretches cause forgetfulness, bad moods and irritability.
How Does Sleep Lead To More Muscles?
If you’re trying to gain strength, sleep becomes even more important because it’s synonymous with recovery. If your body doesn’t get to fully recuperate from a hard workout, there’s no way it will be ready for the next one. Heavy training destroys tissues. In order for the tissue to be repaired, your body needs the proper nutrients and deep sleep. One of the key events that occur during sleep is that the body releases growth hormones which are critical for repairing tissues, maintaining tonus in the muscles and keeping the fat in the cells. Since the body releases growth hormones only during deep sleep, the question is how do you get deep sleep?
Getting enough rest is critical to your overall health. Lack of sleep, even for a single night, can have a huge effect on your immune system. Research has shown that there’s a 20-30% drop in the immune system cells that fight cancer and viruses after just one night of sleeplessness. If sleeplessness continues over several days, the percentage of decreased immune system cells climbs drastically. The good news is that you can bring the number of cells back to normal with a solid night’s sleep.
So How Much Sleep Is Enough?
That depends on individual to individual and it depends on many variables. Ideally, one should aim to get at least 7-8 hours of sound sleep. Sleep is the most critical variable affecting our workouts. How well we have slept the previous night will determine how good a workout you do the next morning.
Work-related stress is one of the many reasons that most suffer from sleep deprivation. One of the best things you can do is slip in to a nap prior to your workout. You don’t want to drop off into the deeper stages of sleep before training because it will make you groggy. 20-30 minutes is plenty before a workout.
How Can You Induce Sleep Quickly?
Deep sleep at night is very important and here are some of the things we can do to get sleep fast:
- Read to relax
- Take a shower or soak in the tub
- Listen to soothing music
- Try Chamomile tea
- Warm turmeric milk will induce melatonin, which is a sleep hormone
- A light snack can be useful in promoting a more relaxed state, but it’s smart to select foods that contain the amino acid tryptophan, which converts to serotonin in the brain, helping you to feel drowsy. Milk, yogurt, cheese, turkey and fish contain tryptophan.
What to Avoid Before Sleeping
Now here are some things you should not do if you want to have a good night’s sleep:
- Don’t overindulge in alcohol
- Avoid eating large quantities of food. Eating a large meal before bedtime isn’t conducive to sleep as the food will trigger various systems, including the heart, to work harder. Also, the digestive tract may become upset and disrupt sleep even more.
- Avoid stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine. This includes tea, coffee and soft drinks as well.
- Avoid any form of strenuous exercise or participating in a competitive sport as it will work against you. Vigorous physical activity stimulates the body, and it takes some time to calm you down.
- Don’t take your work to bed. If you make your bedroom an extension of your office, you’re sure to carry business problems with you at night. Your bedroom should be a cool, dark, sleep chamber.
You may have to experiment a little to find out what works for you. But if you’re having trouble getting a good night’s rest on a regular basis, make some changes in your lifestyle, quickly. The “magical one-third of your life” is a critical variable in your quest to gain strength, so be mindful of that.
We hope this article on sleep for muscle building helps you. Do leave your thoughts in the comments below. For more on muscles and sleep, check out Healthy Reads or speak with a GOQii Coach by subscribing to our Personalised Health Coaching program here.