THERE AIN’T NO REST FOR THE WICKED
Let me first start out by asking not to sue me for copyright infringement, the lyrics are great but I don’t have money to pay for that lawsuit (indeed).
Secondly, there is indeed no rest for the wicked (not that I’m a wicked person).
Imagine a college-aged me, back in the beginning days of my training. I was going to school, working two jobs, and working out 5 days a week. I was truly pushing myself to my limits, and I felt great in doing so! While I was pushing myself so hard, sacrifices had to be made. Since I was doing dark magic with my math homework, and making money frying fast food chicken, sleep had to be sacrificed.
That’s no biggie to me. I’m a macho man, I can handle it. However, my workout buddy started to notice that I was showing up later and later to our morning workout (which began promptly at 6:30AM). He noticed how slow and bogged down I had become. From there, he gave me some of the most shocking news I had ever heard…
What Do You Mean I Have to Sleep?
Wait, what?! Didn’t you just read the beginning of this post? I’m going to school, working two jobs, and working out five times a week! In between all the homework I was completing and fried chicken I was cooking, I didn’t have time to sleep!
On top of all that, how important is sleep? It’s sleep for goodness sakes! I’m in my early 20’s so sleep should definitely not be a priority. But on top of that, how is dreaming of dandelions and butterflies truly important to my muscle gains*?
*Don’t judge me, sometimes you need a little dandelion and butterfly in your life.
SLEEP IS VITAL
Here’s the deal, Sonny Jim (wouldn’t it be funny if a Jim were actually reading this post right now?) Sleep is vital, I repeat, vital to muscle gains. Not only does sleeping help your body and mind rejuvenate, but it also helps give you a chance to shut down and distress.
During sleep, it has actually been proven that your body repairs and replenishes the cells and muscles that have been breaking down through training. In other terms, during rest and sleep our muscles are growing.
But don’t take my word for it, let’s take a look at the science behind sleep and muscle gains.
The Science Behind Sleep and Muscle Gain
Sleeping is very important for muscle gains for several different reasons. First, sleeping rests the brain, which for bodybuilders means they have vital mental alertness during the day, and training. Studies show that during REM sleep, proper functioning of the brain and alertness is assisted.
Also, human growth hormone is also released under the conditions of sleep, 60%-70% for men during their deepest sleep cycles. These deep sleep cycles are extremely important to gaining muscle and the growth of muscle tissue, poor quality of sleep can prevent the amount of growth hormones released.
Taking a look at the sleep cycle, we can observe that we actually hit several key cycles while we sleep. Most people go through at least 5 cycles per night, each ranging between 90-100 minutes. A lack of these stages could cause: memory loss, lack of rest, and slowed brain activity.
Lastly, research has consistently shown that REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement), actually allows the body to rejuvenate and repair: organs, bones, tissue, immune cells, etc. So to say that sleep isn’t vital to a workout plan is to blatantly disregard a key proponent of any regimen.
How Much Sleep Do I Need
That’s a tricky question. Everybody is different and everyone goes through different tasks throughout the day. Between 8 hours of work, 8 hours of play, and 8 hours of sleep, the 24 hours of the day are pretty much set in stone. In fact some people work more, or have more tasks than play, and can’t sleep for 8 hours. To keep it simple, research shows that the average person requires between 7-9 hours of sleep daily.
How do we ensure this amount of sleep? Here are some helpful tips!
- Do your best not to over sleep, even on the weekends. Sleeping in is good, but sleeping 12 hours isn’t.
- Exercise consistently (which I’m assuming you are if you’re reading this blog). This naturally makes you want to sleep more.
- Try to avoid caffeine, sugary foods, or alcohol (God forbid) at night.
- Avoid pills or medication that help you sleep. It sounds good at first, but it causes issues with your sleep cycle(s) in the long run.
- Relax before going to bed. Keeping the mind at ease before sleep helps your body fall into a place of rest.
Sleep is vital to any training regimen, and should be considered as such. Trust me, I didn’t necessarily know sleep was truly detrimental until researching for this post, but science doesn’t lie. Sleep helps you body rejuvenate, repair, relax, and get ready for the next day of training you have ahead. Let’s keep it simple, don’t stay out all night, instead stay home every now and then and get some much needed shut eye.
What else can you do to help you training?
Do your research, be prepared, and get lifting!