If you were not already aware, getting a good night’s rest of 7 to 9 hours is essential for your muscles to heal and grow their mass.
Why Sleep is Important
First, your body needs the energy to function. And, it gets this energy from glucose, a type of sugar, that is stored in the body. In fact, glucose is the only kind of sugar that the body can break down to get energy. On the other hand, any other kind of sugar we eat has, first, to be broken down into glucose before the muscles can use it for energy.
Now, while we are sleeping, glucose, which is carried around the body by blood circulation, gets stored in muscles as muscle glycogen. Moreover, muscle glycogen produces more energy than glucose in the blood. On the other hand, if you don’t get an adequate amount of sleep, the replenishment of glycogen in muscles isn’t as much as it could be.
Human Growth Hormone
Meanwhile, the body also produces dietary proteins that help repair muscles as well as grow new muscles. In addition, the body also produces its own muscle building hormones such as the human growth hormone. Moreover, human growth hormone allows muscles to recover and grow. In addition, our bodies need the human growth hormone to use amino acids that is present in the proteins that we eat.
Stage 3 of Sleep
Now, blood flow to the muscles increases and tissue growth and repair occurs during, the so called, Stage 3 of NREM (Non-Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. Also, the amount of human growth hormone in blood is the highest when we are sleeping. On the other hand, sleep deprivation curtails the production of human growth hormone. And, this, in turn, curtails muscle recovery and growth. Therefore, it follows that getting enough sleep maximizes the growth of muscles.
In addition, during this stage of sleep, the anti-inflammatory hormone prolactin is also released to help recover joints.
Stage 4 of Sleep
Meanwhile, in Stage 4 REM (Rapid Eye Movement) phase, the muscles get extra oxygen to break down lactic acid. And, minor tears in the muscles are repaired during this stage.
In addition, muscle coordination improves when we get the recommended amount of sleep. Finally, sleep is vital for cementing muscle recall memory that is linked to body movements, such as learning to dance or play tennis.
On the other hand, inadequate sleep causes muscle mass to shrink. As a matter of fact, a 2011 study demonstrated that those who slept only 5.5 hours had 60% less muscle mass at the end of the study. While those who slept 8.5 hours had 40% more muscle mass.
Meanwhile, another study at Uppsala University in Sweden found that after a sleepless night, muscle samples of participants showed signs of protein breakdown. Also, the study confirmed that sleep loss impairs the production of human growth hormone and testosterone needed for muscle recovery and growth.
What Can You Do?
Much has been written on the many ways you can try to sleep. Some of these methods are listed below.
- Instead of lying in bed, get up and read a book, under soft light, while sitting on a comfortable couch.
- Another option is to lie in bed and stay awake by keeping your eyes open.
- Or, you can submerge your face in a bowl of cold water.
- Yet another option is to get up from your bed and exercise your legs by doing squats.
- And, if that is too active, use a machine that loosens muscles, decreases blood pressure, relaxes muscles, relieves stress, and helps you sleep.
- While not a remedy when you are already in bed, avoid caffeine drinks, such as coffee, after 1 PM in the afternoon.
In conclusion, not getting the recommended amount of sleep is not good just for your muscles, but also potentially puts you at risk of getting Type 2 diabetes, as well as several other bad things.