Have you been hitting the gym too hard lately to achieve the body of your dreams? Do you think that the more time you spend working out, the better chances you have of gaining muscle mass? Well, there might be some truth to it but not all of it is true! The real and most overlooked secret to muscle gain and muscular recovery during training and working out is, hitting the snooze button!
Why is Sleeping Necessary for Muscular Recovery?
When our body sleeps, it starts carrying out important physiological activities while alternating between two types of sleep, Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep and non-REM sleep. REM sleep is the starting phase of sleep where the energy is being provided to the brain to support waking up and restoring your mind before you wake up. It is considered the light stage of sleep. Non-REM sleep can be considered as the stage 3 or 4 of sleep. During this phase, the person has fallen into a slow and deep sleep. During non-REM sleep, your blood pressure starts decreasing and your breathing rhythm becomes deep and slow. The blood supply to your body muscles increases and starts delivering an extra amount of essential nutrients and oxygen to aid in their growth and healing. During this phase of sleep, your body tissues and muscles are regenerated and new cells start forming.
Sleep is quite crucial for muscle regeneration and recovery, because when you hit the sack, and after you enter the non-REM stage of sleep, your pituitary gland starts releasing a growth hormone that repairs muscles and stimulates the growth of tissues. Here is how sleep plays an important part in maximum muscle recovery and regeneration: poor quality of sleep or lack of it can cause a decline in the release of growth hormone which eventually leads to a loss of energy and exercising capability, muscle mass and an increased risk of obesity!
What Must You Do?
Zzzzzzzzz! That’s what you must do! Your body requires sleep to recover itself after strenuous training and workouts. Your body repairs the damaged and torn muscles while you snooze. That is why sleep is essential for muscle recovery. If you are suffering from a muscle injury or are in postoperative physical therapy, extra hours of sleep are very essential and vital to your health.
Sleep deprivation or poor sleeping habits can affect muscle recovery to a great extent. If you undergo endurance training or extensive exercise sessions, it is very likely that your muscles get torn to some degree. In such circumstances, poor sleep quality can further damage your muscles rather than repair and rejuvenate them. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours of sleep for healthy adults. Anything less than this, is harmful for your body and health (and this includes muscles).
Tips on Improving Sleep for Maximum Muscle Recovery
Here’s how you can make sure that you get your snooze routine back on track. Follow these simple tips to improve your sleeping pattern to ensure maximum muscle recovery and rejuvenation while you sleep.
Sleeping is good but no need to overdo it! You need to get at least 7 hours of sleep daily but that doesn’t mean that you oversleep. Oversleeping can (especially during improper times) cause confusion in your body and affect the physiological processes that occur according to the circadian rhythm. This can cause hindrance in muscle recovery and rejuvenation as well.
Set a Sleepy Time Routine! This can help a lot in setting a proper sleeping pattern. Set a fixed bedtime routine and follow it. Engage in relaxing activities and avoid activities that get your mind thinking and over stimulate it. Take a warm bath with your favourite bath oil before hitting the sack, or read a good book. Setting a schedule will help your brain in identifying when sleep time is getting near.
Avoid Stimulants! Avoid any kind of stimulants like cigarettes, coffee or energy drinks before bed time. They will over stimulate you senses and make it difficult for you to fall asleep.
Unwind before Bed time! Make it a habit to avoid exercising too close to bed time and use the hours before your bed time to just unwind and relax.
Less Water! Drinking water is encouraged throughout the day and especially during training and exercising but avoid taking water 2 or 3 hours before bed time because it will make you get up in the middle of the night with the urge to rush to the little girl’s room. This obviously will interrupt your beauty sleep and we do not want that now do we?
Eat Less and Fresh! Avoid taking heavy meals before bed time. The best meals to take for dinner, so that you can maximize muscle growth and recovery during sleep time, are slow digesting proteins. An ideal meal should consist of chicken, turkey paired with pineapples, almond or cottage cheese.
Another great way to maximize muscle growth and recovery while sleeping is to take a shake made with casein. Casein protein shakes should be taken right before bed as casein is released into the blood stream at a very slow rate. This helps in maintain a great balance between protein synthesis and protein breakdown which helps in gaining muscular mass and recovery.