The Importance of Sleep when Strength Training

You wake up early for your morning jogs, spend all day Sunday getting your pre-portioned meals ready for the week, sweat bullets during your strength training sessions and drink protein shakes like there’s no tomorrow. Yet, you are still not gaining as much muscle as you had hoped. What are you missing? Well, you might be missing a good night’s sleep.

Sleep is essential for recovery and improving performance. John Underwood Director of “Sleep and Recovery” reported in his research that “the majority of muscle repair and growth occurs during sleep when hormones are released. Without adequate sleep, muscle gain is greatly diminished”.

During sleep our bodies are building muscles, restoring energy, repairing tissues and brain cells. During our deepest stage of sleep the body releases a hormone called HGH, this is the human growth hormone. This hormone is responsible for muscle maintenance and body composition as well as other important functions. Strength training causes tiny tears in muscles and while you sleep the HGH hormone jumps in to help repair and rebuild the damage to make your muscles larger and stronger. The longer and deeper the sleep, the more of this hormone is released, meaning the more muscles you build. Studies have even noticed a decrease in muscle mass when sleep is deprived. The International Sports Science Association quoted, “What researchers discovered was that the individuals who slept only 5.5 hours had 60% less muscle mass at the end of the study, while those who slept 8.5 hours had 40% more muscle mass.”

Getting a good night’s rest can also improve your physical performance. Cheri D. Mah published a study that was done on collegiate basketball players and how extending their sleep had improved their performance. The basketball players demonstrated faster sprints, shooting accuracy improved by 9% and field goal percentage increased by 9.2%. All due to them adding hours of sleep to their nightly regime. They even stated that in order to reach an individual’s sports peak performance all you need to do is sleep more. “Performance after sleep extension indicate[s] that optimal sleep is likely beneficial in reaching peak athletic performance”.

More sleep will allow the muscles to grow and improve performance, that sounds like a win-win situation. So, complete your healthy and active lifestyle by getting a good night’s rest to let your body recover so you can reach your personal best physically and mentally.