You Snooze, You Win – Sleep your Way To More Muscle
The first thing people usually think about when it comes to building an impressive physique is what training program to follow. The next, a dialed in nutrition approach, followed by a plethora of the latest sports supplements. But what most people don’t realise (and often miss), is a crucial element essential to muscle growth – sleep. That’s right. Hitting the sack is key to muscular size, strength and optimal recovery.
[WHY DO WE SLEEP]
Sleep serves numerous vital functions. For Crossfitters, it’s essential in physical recovery and mental readiness. Sleep provides these effects directly. But not just any kind of sleep – quality sleep. Without it, time spent in the gym, could be to a large degree, wasted.
[HOW MUCH DO WE NEED]
Getting enough sleep is crucial to proper repair and recovery (especially when strength training). During sleep your body will conduct protein metabolism (muscle growth) at a much faster rate than when you are awake. For maximum benefit It’s advised that you should aim for 8-10 hours of quality sleep per night.
[HOW DOES SLEEP BUILD MUSCLE]
While working out, microscopic tears are built up on a cellular level. For muscle tissue to increase in size, these tears need to be repaired. As you sleep, your body enters a higher anabolic (growth) state and energy consumption is lowered. This allows for the high-quality food eaten during the day to be effectively absorbed. Simultaneously, your body’s growth hormone is naturally released to improve muscle recovery and regeneration. In men, 60-70% of this daily growth hormone secretion occurs during early sleep – the deepest sleep cycles.
In addition, as we sleep the brain recharges. Levels of adenosine (a neurotransmitter that produces ATP, the energy-storage molecule that powers most of the biochemical reactions inside cells) decline. Studies suggest that it is during REM sleep that the alertness of the brain is repaired. A rested brain allows for consistent focus and self-motivation during training. Thus when you sleep, you give your body the ability to recover, repair and rebuild – all of which are needed for optimal progress.
[USING AMINO ACIDS]
In order to build muscle mass (also known as hypertrophy) your body must be synthesizing proteins faster than it is breaking down proteins in the muscle. You can inhibit this breakdown by raising amino acid levels by 25-50%. Amino acids are what makes up a protein and consuming a sport supplement such as whey protein isolate or casein before bed can support in the growth of lean muscle tissue.
[STAGES OF SLEEP]
The sleep-wake cycle process refers to our 24 hour daily sleep pattern, which consists of approximately 16 hours of daytime wakefulness and 8 hours of night-time sleep. This is controlled by the body’s circadian rhythm and sleep homeostasis (the amount of accumulated sleep built through time spent awake) and consists of non-REM and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. There are 4 stages in non-REM sleep before REM sleep begins. Cycles typically last between 90-100 minutes and occur 5 times on average, per night.
Stage 1) This is the stage that transitions a person from wakefulness/drowsiness to falling asleep. Stage 1 non-REM is known to be the shortest period, accounting for 2-5% of sleep in the cycle.
Stage 2) This stage is considered the baseline/foundation of non-REM sleep and accounts for 45-60% of sleep.
Stage 3 & 4) Known as slow-wave sleep, these are the deepest stages of sleep and are the most restorative for the brain.
REM) Brain waves in this stage are fast, and are similar to a wakeful state. Breathing becomes more rapid, eyes move in various directions and limb muscles become temporarily paralyzed.
[HOW TO GET ADEQUATE SLEEP]
We all know the feeling of feeling well rested and relaxed. However for too many people, this feeling is as elusive as a forgotten dream. Here’s a few proven methods to get you back on track:
Avoid oversleeping: You’ll risk resetting your natural body clock and will find it more difficult to sleep the following night.
Install Blackout Curtains: This will assist in blocking unnatural light from your room and help maintain your body’s natural circadian rhythms.
Avoid Alcohol, Caffeine and Tyrosine-rich foods at night: Alcohol reduces REM sleep, and caffeine causes hyperactivity and wakefulness. Tyrosine-rich foods stimulate the brain and keep one awake.
Avoid Sleeping Pills: They may prove to work in the short term, but they are likely to cause the development of disturbed sleep patterns.
Supplement Magnesium: Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxant. This is achieved by moving calcium out of the muscles, and back into the bloodstream where it’s then mobilized elsewhere. popular forms can be tablets, topical oils or absorption through epsom salt baths.
Avoid keeping any electronics near you before sleeping: That includes your smart phone, tablets and television screens. When interacting with these forms of technology, the brain is still alert and active.
Maintain a sleep schedule: Be consistent and implement a routine – both on weekdays and weekends. Your body loves a routine.
In summary, you now understand why quality sleep is essential for many reasons. It restores brain function and readiness in preparation for the intense training sessions ahead. It also enhances muscular recovery and overall bodily function. Recovery is a must for anyone that exercises, so make a commitment to fit in your 8-10 hours of sleep.