One of the most important parts of any workout routine doesn't happen in the gym. In fact, it happens in your bed.
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Why Sleep is an Important Part of a Muscle-Building Routine
Good sleep is essential for fitness and health, especially during post-exercise recovery. When you get enough sleep, you can accelerate building muscle. It also supports your strength, endurance, and memory.
What Happens to Your Muscles When You Don't Sleep Enough?
When you don't get enough sleep at night, your fitness and recovery can suffer. Your body needs sleep to restore itself, so when you don't sleep enough, you can't fully recover. Your reaction time, attention, and focus suffer as well.
With a lack of sleep, you may find it difficult to maintain positive mood and stress levels. This can have a negative impact on your performance.
Less sleep means lower energy as well, and limited endurance. When you're sleep deprived, your body doesn't produce the fuel you need for energy during sustained athletic activity, such as weight lifting or a marathon.
Muscle-Building Benefits of Adequate Sleep
When you get adequate sleep, your body better able to recover from physical activity and stresses. You can process information better and commit it to memory.
Deep Sleep Muscle Building
While you're in deep sleep, your body goes through processes that are critical for muscle recovery. Hormones that support metabolization and endurance are regulated during sleep.
Building Memories in Your Sleep
Your brain synthesizes new information while you sleep. This is important for mental function as you remember training tips, muscle movements, and advice.
Increasing Human Growth Hormone with Sleep
With exercise and long, heavy sleep, you can promote a natural increase of human growth hormone (HGH). Growth hormones are released during deep sleep, and you can encourage more hormone production with extra sleep. This promotes tissue repair and recovery of your muscles.
How You Can Use Sleep to Build Muscles
Consider extra sleep. If you're sleep deprived, getting adequate sleep will offer muscle-building benefits. But if you want additional muscle-building support, try extra sleep. Adults should get an average of seven to nine hours of sleep, but adult athletes should get 10 hours of sleep during training and competitive events.
Take naps. Although not ideal, naps can fill the gap between how much sleep you're getting and how much sleep you need. Keep naps to 30 minutes or less and avoid napping just before practice, competition, or within the hours before bed.
Maintain a regular sleep schedule. Go to bed at the same time every night, even on weekends and vacation. This will help with sleep onset, as your body learns to expect to go to sleep at the same time every night.
Maintain a bedtime routine. A bedtime routine is another way to make it easier to fall asleep. Doing the same thing each night before bed helps to signal to your brain that it's time to settle down and sleep.
Create a comfortable sleeping environment. Your bedroom should be cool, dark, and quiet. Your mattress should be supportive, comfortable, and relieve aches and pains.
Exercise, but not too late. Exercise can help you get better sleep, but if you exercise too close to bedtime, it can keep you awake. Plan your workouts so you finish exercising at least a few hours before bed.
Sara Westgreen is a researcher for the sleep science hub Tuck.com. She sleeps on a king size bed in Texas, where she defends her territory against cats all night. A mother of three, she enjoys beer, board games, and getting as much sleep as she can get her hands on.