While you sleep, your body is active, searching for ways to fix itself and become stronger. In fact, sleep can be an important, yet often overlooked, factor in muscular development. Not only does it improve overall health and motivation for continuing your workouts, it also has specific benefits for your muscles and bones.
Sleep plays a key role in regenerating and rehabilitating damaged muscle tissue. An intense workout typically damages muscle fibers in hopes that they grow back stronger. And, they typically do. While you snooze, energy consumption slows, and blood flow increases to tissues in order to restore the body on a cellular level. This process allows muscle cells to repair themselves and grow back thicker in order to be stronger by the time you wake up.
It’s also why recovery is a critical aspect of any workout. Sleep can have a massive impact on the speed of muscular injury recovery, influencing how quickly cells divide and muscle grows.
Sleep also has an impact on how large your muscles can become. Human growth hormone is naturally secreted by the pituitary gland mostly during the deepest stages of sleep. It’s this hormone that helps maintain and grow new muscle tissue. HGH stimulates muscle protein synthesis in cells, leading to reinforced, larger muscles. In fact, poor sleep can inhibit the release of the hormone and lead to decreased muscle mass.
If your workout needs an update, consider making some changes to your sleep patterns. Make sure you’re getting between 8-9 hours of sleep every night in a comfortable bedroom. Blackout curtains and adaptive bedding can keep you sleeping throughout the night, while a bedtime snack of melatonin-heavy almonds or bananas can help you fall asleep faster.
While it may sound like an oxymoron, it’s important to give your body the rest it needs to become stronger. Make sure you’re adding sleep to your workout plan in order to be the best athlete you can be.