Like diet and exercise, sleep plays a critical role in your physique. It’s not just a matter of raw hours, but rather the quality and timing of sleep that can make an incredibly positive impact on your muscle growth, fat loss, and general happiness.
Yes, exactly like diet and exercise… Timing + Quantity + Consistency = Results.
Many professionals take it so far as to say that sleep is another form of training. Without it, you’re leaving your mind and body unprepared.
Here, we’re going to lay out the best guidelines to improving your sleep in order to improve your muscle growth. There will be additional benefits like increased cognition, fat metabolism, etc.
For a true fat burning approach, read our article on burning fat while you sleep.
3 Ways Sleep Improves and Promotes Muscle Growth and Recovery
It’s pretty big talk saying that more sleep will get you more gains. So, where is all this coming from?
Proper Sleep increases protein synthesis (building) and decreases degeneration
This is really all we need to say. Sleep is a muscle builder, well, maybe more correctly – lack of sleep is a muscle destroyer. As discussed by Medical Hypotheses, lack of sleep actively promotes the breakdown of muscle, hinders the growth of muscle, all while promoting the growth of fat. And who said sleep is for the weak…
Sleep is essential for Testosterone and Growth Hormone
We’ve already covered this topic on our natural ways to raise testosterone levels article. On that page, sleep is the single handedly most important factor for proper levels of T.
Really, the same can be said for growth hormone, as the pituitary is gate-keeper to both in a way.
The Important Part: For each extra hour you sleep up until about 9-10, the amount of testosterone your body produces doubles. The same can likely be said for growth hormone, though we’re not entirely 100% on the ratios.
Proper sleep reduces risk of injury – so you can keep making gains
Adequate sleep at night effects injury prevention two-fold.
- First, proper sleep improves coordination to avoid dangers and improve balance.
- Second, proper sleep allows muscles, joints, and ligaments to heal faster and perform under greater stress.
The Ideal Amount of Sleep
Initially, you’re sleep requirements will be greater as you break out of ‘sleep deficit’ according to Scientific American. You may feel like you’ve fully recovered after just a night or two of truly regenerative sleep, but that’s not the whole story.
So to begin, attempt 10 hours of sleep, or begin on a weekend by going completely alarm-less.
For an athlete, the ideal amount of sleep is 7 to 9 hours every night.
This is because the most regenerative part of sleep occurs in the deepest sleep cycle. One that not everyone will reach every single night if they are not provided with enough time and quality conditions.
5 Sleep Hygiene Tricks to Improve Sleep Quality
#5 Wash your sheets weekly to avoid sleeping weakly
Can’t sleep? Blame your girlfriend and tell her to wash those sheets. If you typically go a 4th night or longer between washes, not only is the feeling of laying down less satisfying, but mold may be growing which keeps you awake.
#4 Airplane mode your phone and lift off your gains
Just try it for a week and you’ll be amazed. The benefits here are two fold.
- First, you’re not being bothered every few hours with a cat meme.
- Second, there’s less radio waves going through your skull. After all, who doesn’t want less of that?
#3 Sleep masks and Blackout shades are your friend
We sleep at night because our bodies are trained to. Night is dictated by darkness. Therefore, when it’s time to sleep, make any trace of day go away. If you’ve never used a sleep mask or even better – black out shades… it’s very much worth a test drive.
#2 Cut the caffeine at least 8 hours before bed
Even if you still don’t feel the extra energy, caffeine can still be working against you to ruin sleep. Furthermore, if you do fall asleep, it can still ruin the overall quality.
#1 Go to bed at the same time, every night
Circadian rhythms love a good schedule. Give it what it wants, if you want what you want from it.
3 Best Supplements to Improve Sleep Quality and Build Muscle
There isn’t a magic bullet pill for better sleep. But, incorporating these into your sleep routine can help out.
#3 Sleep Tea’s
Nothing quite as manly as sipping on a good old cup of tea while wearing your nightcap aye? No, but seriously, it can help.
Load up on teas that contain chamomile, valerian root, passionflower, etc. for sleep boosting effects.
#2 Magnesium Supplements
Without magnesium, the brain exists in a constant state of panic. Likewise, your muscles won’t relax easily either. Do yourself a favor and load up on a high quality magnesium supplement or ZMA.
#1 Combination of ZMA with Sleep Tea Ingredients (double-kill)
Why choose one or the other? Go all in and do both.
To date, we haven’t found the ideal combo of each together. In our experience, all brands will find a way to slack off, and magnesium seems to be the highest slack-off mineral to date. With that being said, do your best to avoid at all costs magnesium oxide supplements. If they were music, it’d be the brown note again, and again, and again.
Conclusion on Improving Sleep for Muscle Growth and Performance
There is no denying that sleep plays a role in nearly every bodily process and mental ability. Really, sleep is a form of whole body metaregulation. Meaning, the efficiency and effect of tasks being delegated and carried out (or not carried out).
Bottom line, we can all benefit from more sleep.
So before you go saying that you don’t have enough time in a day for a full night sleep, perhaps you should consider improving your daily efficiency. As well, if you are not capable of sleeping well at night, then it’s time to work on your sleep hygiene and set yourself up for success with some of the recommendations above.