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Articles > Other Resources > Importance of Sleep for Muscle Growth
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Your intended workout today is chest and triceps followed by cardio, and like your last several training sessions, you're exhausted and lethargic after 20 minutes on the treadmill. Don't overlook poor sleep habits as a possible problem. While sleep deprivation can have varying effects on your health, it can certainly hinder the way your body metabolizes certain foods and your preparation for athletic performance.

As bodybuilders we are always attentive to new and helpful ways to gain muscle. The finest exercise routine, diet and supplement program will not make up for inadequate rest, and sleep is the best, and only way of getting this rest. Growth hormone is produced and protein synthesis occurs during sleep. Sleep assists a lot of other very important functions, for example:
• The replacement of ageing and dead cells, and the mending of muscle and other tissue
• The lowering of energy consumption
• The recharging of the brain

Rest is one of the most important principles of exercise and often the most overlooked. When you sleep, you body goes into a suspended state of animation, and does precisely what you've been beseeching it to do ever since you raised that first dumbbell: build muscle. If you've just started lifting, give your body parts at least 48 hours to recover between workouts.

All mammals, birds and fish observe a regular state of natural rest. The role of sleep in health and disease is increasingly being studied in specialized sleep laboratories throughout the world. Restorative theories of sleep describe it as a time of healing and growth for organisms. Non-REM sleep is an anabolic situation marked by physiological processes of growth and rejuvenation of the organism's immune, nervous, muscular and skeletal systems.

Sleep is perhaps best described as the loss of awareness of what is going on around us. Public awareness of fitness and nutrition has grown over the last few years but sadly little is known about the very important subject of sleep disorders. Why do we suffer with sleep deprivation? Stress and anxiety is a major cause, and also a vicious cycle: while stress can actually cause our lack of sleep, it is also a result of it.

Animal studies have revealed that sleep is essential for survival. The usual lifetime of rats is 2-3 years. However, rats deprived of sleep live only for about 3 weeks. It has been confirmed that the metabolic activity of the human brain declines considerably after 24 hours of sustained wakefulness. Sleep is required for our nervous systems to work right. Deep sleep is also necessary for the release of growth hormone in children and young adults.

Few bodybuilders realize how important sleep is. Check the list below and see which items apply to you:
• I frequently have trouble falling asleep at the correct time
• I often find it painful to get up in the morning due to sleepiness
• I am regularly very lethargic at school or at work
• I frequently slash my sleep by 2-3 hours in contrast to what my body appears to require
• I use the alarm clock and actually detest it
• I drink buckets of coffee or coke
• I often take 2-4 hour naps in the evening
• One of the above is a cause of regular stress or reduced productivity

Though many people think that they only need 3-4 hours of sleep, the facts state that while sleep requirements are greatly individualized, the majority of people require seven or eight hours to function optimally. The quality of sleep diminishes with age, but the need for sleep does not. Scientists say that the body is as dynamic during sleep as it is when we're awake.

Rest could be critically important if you want to gain weight from muscle growth. Sleep could be the best workout partner you'll ever have. Depriving yourself of those Zzzz's not only limits your capacity to develop muscle, but it also messes up your coordination and mental focus. This could be decoded as less strength and a greater possibility of getting hurt.

You've known about the importance of dietary protein for as long as you can remember. The reason behind taking a protein supplement just before bedtime is simple: in the night, when you go hours on end without eating, amino acid levels in your body are radically reduced. With less protein being ferried to your muscles, your odds of getting bigger – and even keeping the size you already have, get smaller.

Studies show that those who suffer from sleep deprivation have a reduced ability to handle stress, poor concentration and memory, slower reflexes, difficulty accomplishing tasks, and diminished enjoyment of relationships. Sleep-related hormone imbalances could result in memory problems, more body fat, and higher susceptibility to infections. If you get inadequate sleep, you are using your brain on a metabolically depleted level.

When you skimp on sleep, not only will the following day's training session be hurt by your lack of sleep, but you also hamper a number of processes in your body that only occur during periods of deep sleep. You also make friends with Cortisol, a hormone that breaks down muscle and is present in higher levels when you are mentally stressed. Getting your Zzzz's, at least seven to eight hours a night, is a proven way to improve workout performance and radically improve your physique-development efforts.


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