How Sleep Affects Muscle Growth

By Isabelle Laker
31 October 2017

We all know that sleep is key to a healthy lifestyle – but did you know it’s also really important in muscle growth? Here’s a rundown of exactly why that is. 

 

A simple breakdown of muscle growth

man doing pushup

When we exercise, we damage our muscle fibres – that’s why your body feels so sore after a good superset. After working out, our bodies repair those damaged fibres by fusing separate strands together. These new, repaired strands are thicker, and that’s how muscles build. This process takes longer when our bodies aren’t used to it, which explains why it can be tough to get over that initial hurdle (and soreness!) when starting training. When the body goes through this process of damage and repair frequently, endurance builds and repair becomes easier and faster.

 

Sleep – where does it fit in? 

Recovery is a broad term which encompasses strategies that restore physical and mental wellbeing including sleep, nutrition, hydration, stretching and stress management, among others. Our bodies carry out vital tasks whilst we sleep, from producing proteins in the immune system to lowering blood pressure. Getting enough sleep is vital to muscle recovery, as well as mental health and hormone balance.

 

During sleep, the body releases a natural growth hormone, which stimulates tissue growth and contributes to muscle recovery and regeneration. There are two modes of sleep which we fluctuate between throughout sleep – REM (rapid eye movement) and non-REM, during which the body performs different jobs. During non-REM, or “deep sleep” blood pressure drops and breathing becomes slower and deeper. Because the brain is resting, there is an increase in blood supply available to the muscles, which means they’re getting more oxygen and nutrients than when you’re awake, which boosts healing and growth. 

 

How much sleep should you be getting?

turning off alarm clock

Everybody is different and requires varying levels of sleep depending on lifestyle, exercise and health. Between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night is usually ideal for most people. When injured or ill, our bodies require more sleep than usual, especially for muscle recovery. Also, people who don’t get enough good quality sleep produce less growth hormone, which has been linked to obesity, loss of muscle mass and reduced capacity for exercise.

 

The best quality sleep occurs when your environment is as natural as possible, meaning that it’s a good idea to sleep at night in the dark with good natural air flow, and wake up with the sun. It has also been proven that the hours of sleep you get before midnight are more effective than those after. 

 

ZMA 

True Protein ZMA – a combination of Zinc, Magnesium and Vitamin B6 – provides numerous benefits to the body, including aiding a deep and restful sleep. ZMA is a fantastic way to ensure a good sleep and effective recovery after a tough training session. 

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