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How Sleep can benefit Muscle Growth



If there’s one aspect of building muscle and losing fat that’s most underrated, it’s definitely sleep. Many people neglect the power of sleeping for sufficient hours during the night and its effects on improving the performance of their organs.

One reason why you’re lacking in gains can be because other people know about this. Keep reading if this something you think can boost your gains.


Normal Muscle Physiology

We know that muscles increase or decrease their bulk based on the protein content. This protein is mainly myoglobin and it gets its energy via ATP (adenosine triphosphate). The energy intake that you acquire per day needs time to be distributed throughout the body. This energy reaches the muscle through several metabolic pathways. All such pathways are potentiated while the body is in energy conservation phase i.e. sleeping.


What helps Muscle Grow?

Muscle stress, muscle tension and muscle damage are three major determinants of muscle growth. It is important to keep these 3 in check. If one focuses on gaining muscle mass, muscle tension and stress (energy absorption) need to be greater in order to balance out the damage (energy consumption).


Sleep Morphology

While sleep is a state elicited by the brain, its vital role reaches beyond maintaining brain health. Unhealthy sleeping habits have been associated with increased risk for inflammation, obesity, or diabetes. Sleep guides processes playing an important role in promoting the regulation of endocrine function involved in tissue regeneration and tissue remodeling. Thereby, sleep presumably is a critical factor contributing to the balance of core body tissues: bone, fat, and muscle mass.


How Sleep benefits Muscle Growth

The proportion of fat-free mass and fat mass in the body often referred to as “body composition,” is a key aspect determining overall health. This body composition is maintenance through a number of processes that directly or indirectly involve sleep-wake cycles.

1. Role of Insulin like GF

IGF-1 or more commonly called insulin-like growth factor 1 is a metabolic protein in the body. It functions to increase glycolysis and protein turnover. This means that under its influence, more protein is produced and distributed to skeletal muscles.

Now, IGF concentrations peak late at night between the 1am and 5am window when body is resting. We can deduce that better sleeping habits directly increase the body concentration of IGF and hence increases protein production and distribution to skeletal muscles; thus, increasing skeletal muscle mass.

Similarly, age-induced insomnia is shown to have negative effect on lean body mass and vice versa.

2. Testosterone

Opposed to popular opinion, testosterone is not only a sex steroid but also an anabolic hormone that regulates muscle hypertrophy through stem cell differentiation. Researchers have shown that men who get more than 8h of sleep have increased levels of GH (growth hormone) and underwent muscle fiber hypertrophy as compared to men who were exposed to less than 8h of sleep in a 2 month clinical trial.

3. Cortisol

Also called the “stress hormone”, is released in the body under conditions of stress like anxiety, insomnia, depression, freight etc. These stresses directly increase the cortisol blood concentration. Cortisol is shown to directly modulate the body catabolism i.e. protein breakdown. People who are constantly sleep deprived or experience busy work hours are more prone to develop higher cortisol concentration hence directly inhibiting skeletal muscle protein concentration.

4. Other Hormones

Hormones like leptin, ghrelin and adiponectin are important regulators of appetite. They induce, reduce and reuse metabolic substances to make up or breakdown total body fat, free fatty acids and amino acids. Free amino acids in the blood are potential precursors for new protein formation.


What happens if I don’t Sleep Enough?

Low muscle mass, resulting from an imbalance between muscle protein synthesis and muscle protein breakdown, results in muscle atrophy which at a later stage can result in detrimental outcomes such as disability, decreased quality of life, and increased mortality. Finally, decreased bone mass known as osteopenia can further progress to osteoporosis, a state of low bone mineral density, and an increased rate of bone resorption. Osteoporosis is an important risk factor for bone fractures and increased risk of falling

Sleep deprivation is proposed to influence the balance between synthesis and breakdown of muscle proteins by increased proteolysis, which ultimately leads to a loss of muscle mass.


What to do to maintain Muscle Mass?

If you want speedy muscle recovery and gain skeletal muscle bulk, some potent and effective ways can be effortlessly employed. Protein ingestion before sleeping can help store more energy in the body. During sleep, minimal skeletal muscle involvement allows the excess energy in the body to be stored as myoglobin so that very little energy is wasted.

Sufficient nutrient intake is a good supplement for muscle protein augmentation. Even when you ingest enough protein, it is advisable to keep a check on net nutrient balance. A negative mineral balance can still mean that the protein will be utilized in the body for other important metabolic processes.

Lastly, sleep hygiene should also be catered simultaneously. Avoid any chemicals or dietary substances that hinder the normal sleep cycle. These can include caffeine, nicotine etc.


Conclusion Sleep regulation is of significance when you want to focus on muscle growth. However, it is important to consider it a supplement to the real grind. Make sure that you stick to the workouts, stay hydrated, eat enough calories and stay consistent with the effort schedule.

Always remember: “Muscle gain and weight maintenance is a marathon and not a sprint”.


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