How Much Sleep Do You Need For Muscle Growth?

dark empty bed for optimum sleep and muscle growth

I’m no sleep expert on sleep and muscle growth so when I google how much sleep do you need for optimal muscle building, I end up getting the same 7-9 hour window suggestion as everyone else. I’m also frequently asked is 6 hours of sleep enough to build muscle? To which I answer, “No. 6 hours is not enough sleep to grow muscle.” I put the resource link below the article. Also you can watch this article via youtube directly or embedded below:

The study is concerned with mental capacity due to lack of sleep but the body works as a whole so I take the personal liberty of assuming if one system starts to fail due to lack of sleep, then the others can be operating at optimal levels either.

If you don’t get a full 7-9 hours sleep, can you make up for it with naps? Mostly.

Do Naps Help Muscle Recovery?

Do naps help muscle recovery? The short answer is YES. But there is more to the story…

The length of the nap matters. Naps in the 20 minute up to say 70 minute range (subjective) are more for mental alertness and quick energy recovery. When your nap gets into the 90 minute range, you release the hormones that help muscle recovery and growth.

The best time to take your nap is between 1-4PM. This matches your body’s normal rhythms.

So now thats covered, let’s concentrate on WHY the sleep is so important for muscle growth.

Why Sleep Is Important To Muscle Growth And Recovery

Rest is one of the most overlooked parts of an exercise regimen, but the reality is it is actually the most important I would say. Sleep is one of your most valuable tools for growth that you can have in your bodybuilding arsenal.

Muscle adaptation and growth often occurs at night. During the suspended state of animation you are in, your body is doing exactly what you have been asking it to do during your workouts – build muscle.

Lack of sleep can have an intoxicating effect on your body. According to the Journal of Applied Sports Science, being awake for 24 hours has the same physical effect as a blood alcohol content of 0.096, which is above the legal driving limit in most states.

Working out in this state has its obvious downside. For starters, your lack of muscular coordination places you at a much higher risk for injury. Just as you’d never head to the gym after drinking a few beers at your local tavern, you should never work out after not sleeping the night before. You’re better off waiting until the next day when your body has been given proper rest.

Sleep Tips For Muscle Growth And Repair

What are the best practices when it comes to getting enough sleep? Here are some pointers:

  • Don’t exercise before bedtime. Body temperature has a huge effect on our ability to fall asleep. As your body temperature lowers, you start to feel sleepy. If you work up a sweat before trying to sleep, you will have difficulty falling asleep and it could take your body several hours to cool down enough so that you can drift off.
  • Try having a light snack before bedtime. Some people disagree with this theory, but if you go to bed on an empty stomach, it can distract from your ability to fall asleep. Make sure this snack is light, though.
  • Get at least eight hours of quality sleep per night. This will insure that you get the rest and recovery that your body needs to be able to function effectively during the day.
  • Keep your bedroom dark and cool.
  • Try having some white noise in the room like a fan running. I wear earbuds and listen to a white noise app
  • Don’t drink a lot of fluids before sleep, especially tea or coffee. Not only will the caffeine keep you awake, but you’ll have to use the bathroom more often as well which will disturb your sleep.
  • Establish both a regular sleep cycle as well as a pre-sleep routine like stretching. This will help you signal your body that it’s time to think about resting.

While your body is sleeping, your body’s synthesis of protein increases. This is what makes you grow. Your body can recover and repair any damage you did during the day while you are at rest.

A majority of growth hormones are also released when the body is in the sleep state. Growth hormones are very important in increasing muscle mass. During a workout, growth hormones are also released, but the majority of this happens while the body is at rest.

Just as sleep will give you more energy, it is also vital in helping your body recover and ultimately grow like you want it to.

After you cover the major building blocks of muscle growth, which are training, eating and sleep… some people suggest supplements when you really want to grow your body. They are not mandatory, you can get awesome results without them, but they can help. I take only a few supplements to cover my bases. I will discuss those in another article.

Hope that helps,
Raymond Burton
Calgary Personal Training


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