The science of muscle building is well understood. Basically, it involves training with sufficient intensity and eating a diet that emphasizes on ample protein intake. But the science is a lot more entailing, and one facet that is not adequately discussed is that of sleep.
The Importance of Sleep
There’s a reason getting enough sleep is so avidly stressed by experts. It is akin to the glue that holds us all together. We are complex beings, and our brains are only able to function at best when gifted with periodic breaks. Sleep provides said breaks. It is more than a night-time convenience. Sleep is a naturally recurring state that cannot be resisted without consequence. There is a reason why you will die faster from lack of sleep than from lack of water. It is an evolutionary compulsion that allows for memories to be sorted, chemicals to be balanced out and so on.
Sleep and Recovery
By far the most important motivation of sleep, at least in this context, is that it allows muscular recovery. This is especially important to bodybuilders who spend a portion of their day stressing out their muscles. It is said that good nutrition is critical to muscle building, but so is sleep. You cannot enthrone one and eschew the other.
It is during sleep that your body recovers from the damage it has accrued. As workouts cause micro-tears in muscle fibers, the repairs that occur, do so in the night. The result is thicker, more resilient fiber. This is how muscle building occurs. In addition, during sleep, the processes of growth and rejuvenation are accentuated, and this leads to that morning feeling of freshness and renewal.
Growth hormone, a substance thought to play a critical role in muscle growth is only produced during sleep. This is to say that sleep deprivation denies the body of its anabolic functions and negates muscular recovery and growth.
Vital neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, adrenaline and noradrenalin are also replenished during sleep. They are the chemicals responsible for attention, focus and motivation and during the day, they are depleted. Allowing your body to restock in the night ensures you have a supply adequate enough to sustain you during your intensive workouts and thereafter.
How Much Is Enough?
It really is an age old question, with the general consensus being that eight hours are sufficient. While some people seemingly thrive with as little as six, eight hours is considered the ideal for a bodybuilder. Less than is insufficient for complete muscle regeneration, while more is detrimental. Ideally, the eight hours should be spread from dusk till dawn. Going to bed late and waking up late, despite getting the eight hours is discouraged. It interferes with the body’s natural circadian clock.
If you are serious about building size, you should be serious about getting enough sleep. It is the unsung secret that can help you put on lean muscle. Your commitment to sleep should match your commitment to exercising.
Eventually, if progressively intense workouts and perfect nutrition plans are followed and topped off with enough shut-eye, your gains will be inevitable.
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