Sleep is restorative for both mind and body. Sleep is a key part of a healthy lifestyle but is often ignored and over looked. In a life where building muscle is not the only thing you have going in your day, it isn’t unusual to get only 6 hours or even less of sleep a night.
However, getting enough sleep will help build healthy muscle, improve your memory, improve your digestion, improve muscle repair and reduce inflammation, improve your focus and burn fat more effeciently. Sleep will also help to reduce your stress levels, which in turn reduces your cortisol levels. Cortisol is the stress hormone that is responsible for the production of fat in your body.
If you are having trouble getting to sleep, staying asleep or feeling restored when you wake up, there are several things you can do to improve your sleep cycle. Have a sleep schedule and stick to it. Your body will become accustomed to falling asleep and waking up at the same times every day. By sticking with your sleep schedule you can help balance the hormones that control your sleep wake cycles.
Get enough sunlight during the daylight hours. Because we often work in dimly lit office environments, it can be a challenge to our bodies to get enough strong light during the day. After arriving home at night we turn on the lights and sit in front of the computer or television, effectively waking our bodies up.
Instead, get about 1 hour of strong light during the day and start to dim the lights at night to increase your bodies production of hormones that make for a restful nights sleep. Turn the computers and tv off at least 30 minutes before bed. Make your bedroom as dark as possible, using room darkening blinds or a sleep mask if you need one.
Use the same bedtime ritual every night to get your mind and body ready to sleep. Stay away from caffeine in any form (including chocolate) at night. Limite your alcohol and nicotine too. Don’t go to bed hungry, but have a small high protein, high fat snack to get your through the night. Ditch the carbs!
Get your workout in at least 4-6 hours before going to bed. Heavy strength training will release cortisol and increase your energy level. Combined with your post workout supplements and meals, it can be difficult to fall asleep at night and experience repair. A workout close to bedtime once in a while is not the issue. If you have to workout within 3 hours of sleep once a month that’s fine. It’s when you do it consistently every week that your body, your muscles and your mind will suffer.
If your intent is to give the body enough sleep to build muscle and repair your muscles then you’ll need between 8 and 9 hours of sleep per night. During sleep your body uses less energy to function, which means it can more efficiently build muscle. During sleep your body also releases growth hormone needed to regenerate and repair muscle.
Your rested brain will also be more focused the next day and less likely to forgo a workout or grab that twinkie when you’re hungry.
Check out these links:
Mayoclinic: Sleep Tips
Relentless Gains: Importance of sleep for muscle growth
Bodybuilding.com: Workout Programs