How Sleep Adds Muscle
A weightlifting session at the gym may leave you powered up for a night out on the town. It turns out that sleep is crucial for strength training recovery and helps with muscle repair after a strenuous workout. On the flip side, inadequate sleep can interfere with the body’s ability to recover after lifting weights and inhibits the body’s ability to build maximum muscle strength.
Along with dietary protein to aid in muscle repair and new muscle growth, your body produces its own muscle-building hormones while you sleep, including human growth hormone (HGH). During the N3 stage of NREM (non-rapid eye movement) sleep, blood flow to your muscles increases, and tissue growth and repair occurs. During REM sleep, the muscles relax, which can help relieve tension and reduce symptoms of certain types of chronic pain. In fact, many of the critical restorative functions in the body—like tissue repair and muscle growth—occur mostly or only during sleep. A consistent sleep schedule of seven to nine hours a night (possibly more if you are a competitive athlete) will help the muscle-healing process.
In addition to muscle strength, muscle coordination improves with sufficient sleep. Basketball players who added two hours of sleep to their nightly routine experienced a five percent increase in reaction time and speed on the court. Sleep is vital for cementing muscle recall linked to body movements. Together with the muscle repair and growth that happens during sleep, this allows for overall improved athletic performance.
The exercise-sleep connection works both ways: Strength training itself can help you get a better night’s rest. Individuals who strength train may fall asleep faster, have better quality sleep, and wake up less frequently throughout the night. Don’t like to lift? Try running, yoga, or aerobics instead. Any type of exercise is beneficial when it comes to sleeping more soundly although some exercises, like competitive sports, should be avoided within two hours of sleep.