Build Up Your Sleep to Build Muscle

Whether or not you’re trying to look like a superhero, building and maintaining muscle mass is important.

It revs up your metabolism and reduces fat in the process. It has anti-inflammatory effects, plays an active role in your immune system and helps your body regulate glucose. Due to age-related muscle loss, or sarcopenia, strength training gains importance as you age.

If you’re serious about your strength or resistance training, however, you also need to make sure you’re getting enough good sleep each night.

Yes, building muscle is one of the many, many bodily processes hampered by lack of quality slumber.

Most strength training is based on the premise of “progressive overload,” or continuously taxing your muscles so your body has to repair them, in the process making them larger and stronger.

Well, your body goes into “repair” mode while you’re asleep, so depriving it of that opportunity means you can’t meet the other part of that equation, research has shown. One Brazilian study found participants who got 5.5 hours of sleep for three nights lost 60% of their muscle mass, while another group who got 8.5 hours saw theirs grow by 40%. The results may not be as dramatic every time but the message is clear: you need your sleep.

Weight management, a key reason many people take up weight training, is also hindered by lack of sleep. Being overweight and obese has been linked to poor sleep in part because levels of two appetite-related hormones, ghrelin (which increases appetite) and leptin (which promotes satiety) go in the opposite direction than you want them to.

Cravings for fat- and sugar-laden foods also tend to spike when you’re sleep-deprived. Because they’re so easy to overeat, they’re especially detrimental to reaching your goals.

It’s not always easy to routinely obtain a good night’s sleep, and you may want to speak to your health care provider for additional suggestions, but here are the best places to start.

  • The minimum required amount of sleep scientists have settled on for most people is seven hours, though needs vary between individuals and some top-tier athletes have been known to need 10, which is more than the upper limit of nine hours that most experts recommend for the average person.
  • If you’re unsure of what your needs are, try moving your bedtime up by 15 minutes each week until you wake up feeling refreshed.
  • Once you’ve determined your ideal amount of sleep and your general circadian rhythms, keep the same schedule; don’t let your nighttime activities bleed into your sleep time. Tomorrow will be much better for it.
  • Once you’ve determined. your ideal amount of sleep and your general circadian rhythms, keep the same schedule; don’t let your nighttime activities bleed into your sleep time. tomorrow will be much better for it.
  • Avoid exposure to electronics at least 30 minutes before bedtime, including your phone, computer, television and other screens that emit blue light and electromagnetic waves, which disrupt your sleep.
  • Keep your bedroom cool, dark and quiet. If you don’t fall asleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed and try reading or some other quiet activity (without screens) until you are sleepy; then go back to bed.