Humans spend about a third of their lifetime asleep. Most people know how crucial sleep is for health. But sleep also plays a pretty significant role in muscle recovery. So, if you’re hitting the gym and burning the candle at both ends, you may feel more sore than usual if you’re sacrificing your sleep.
Muscle Recovery During Sleep
Aside from feeling groggy and tired, a lack of sleep can impact your muscle recovery too. If you don’t get enough sleep, your muscles will struggle to repair properly. While you can feel like you can work out and function normally after a few hours of sleep, you’re still not giving your body the sleep it needs to repair and recover for optimal function.
The two main stages of sleep are REM (rapid eye movement) and Non-REM sleep. During REM sleep, your brain processes new memories and learnings and creates dreams. Non-REM sleep is an important phase for muscle recovery. Non-REM makes up about 80% of your sleep cycle. Your blood pressure drops, your breathing slows down, and your brain is in a more restful state.
In non-REM sleep, your body secretes human growth hormone (HGH). This encourages your muscles to repair and grow. Poor sleep can cause your growth hormone to dip, impacting your muscle mass and reducing your ability to perform. Good quality and consistent sleep are crucial for muscle repair and growth.
Being overly tired when you exercise can also lead to poor judgment. A chronic lack of sleep is associated with increased sports injuries in teens. Sleep not only helps with recovery but is a crucial part of injury prevention.
How Much Sleep Do You Need for Muscle Recovery?
Experts recommend getting between seven to nine hours of sleep every night. Sleep is essential for any age. Your activity level and general health also influence how long you should aim to sleep. The truth is that the ideal amount of sleep can differ from one person to another. But if you want to feel awake and alert for exercise, you need to get consistent sleep and rack up those hours.
4 Sleep Tips for Better Muscle Recovery and Growth
Improving your sleep quality benefits muscle recovery and your health in general. Stress, diet, and exercise can all influence your sleep. Here are five tips to help you get a better night’s sleep and support muscle recovery.
Switch Off Electronics Before Bed
Backlit electronic devices can make it more difficult to fall asleep. Blue light-emitting devices can reduce or delay the release of melatonin, so you don’t feel as sleepy.
When you go to bed, keep the lights down low and switch off electronics thirty minutes before bed. Some electronics have night mode, making your device a little easier on the eyes.
Have a Caffeine Cut-Off Time
Caffeine has a half-life of about six hours. So, six hours after your last cup of coffee, you still have half the caffeine in your system. You should aim to have a caffeine cut-off time of at least six hours before bedtime. But this can vary depending on the individual. If you’re sensitive to the effects of caffeine, you may want to have your last cup of coffee around midday.
Create a Nighttime Routine
A bedtime routine helps you wind down, relax and set you up for a good night’s sleep. It’s not just children that benefit from a nighttime routine. Going to sleep and waking up at the same time can help your body clock get into the same cycle. Here are some tips for creating a nighttime routine:
Take a warm bath
Read a book
Dim the lights
Switch off the electronics
Meditation may help to sleep better as it can help quiet the mind and body. Evidence suggests that meditation can help increase sleep quality and duration.
Try using an app like Headspace or Calm to start incorporating meditation into your routine. Set aside ten minutes of your day to see how meditation could benefit you.
Sleep and muscle recovery go hand in hand; your body and mind heal, rest, and repair during sleep. Sleep is a crucial part of your exercise routine to get the most out of your workout and perform at your best. By improving your sleep health, you can look to support your overall well-being.
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