We all want the easiest way to lose fat, tone up, get fit and be healthy, right?! The temptation is to throw all of your effort into your diet and exercise routine, which we agree make up sizeable chunks of the big picture. But, it is important to remember that your diet and exercise will be significantly more effective by giving your body and mind adequate time to adjust to the changes being made. Hence, sleep is an important factor in this equation. So much so, that it’s possible to sleep your way to better muscles!
It sounds a bit odd to say that you can sleep your way to better muscles, but who doesn’t love the idea that a good, rested sleep can boost your health? Getting some solid slumber every night is particularly vital to seeing improvement of your lean muscle (the part that gives you that great toned look!). So, how exactly can you sleep your way to better muscles, in particular improved lean muscle mass? And, more importantly, how you can get the best sleep possible?
Sleep your way to better muscles – Strength
Sleep is essential for giving your body and your muscles a chance to recharge and repair. This is most important after you exercise. During exercise your muscles go through a fair amount of tiny tears, that help them grow stronger as they repair. Don’t worry, this is exactly how they are meant to work! But it also highlights that it’s important to give them a chance to rest and heal from the work you’ve been putting them through. While taking a day off between workout days can help, your body is most at rest when it is sleeping. Slumber is also when protein synthesis begins to rebuild muscle tissue that was used throughout the day.
A recent study showed that muscle strength improves with uninterrupted sleep of at least seven to eight hours. Scarily, lack of adequate sleep also had alarming results. Receiving anything less than six hours of sleep a night resulted in poorer muscle strength. Meaning that all your workout effort during the day can be undermined with poor sleep habits.
Sleep your way to more lean muscle
In addition to helping keep your muscles strong, sleep promotes the growth of muscles too. This isn’t a new idea, babies are great examples. They sleep for many hours a day to accommodate the rapid growth their muscles undergo in the first years of life. After all, whether you’re a baby growing your entire body or an adult trying to grow your muscles, it’s hard work! So it makes sense that sleeping is the time when most growth occurs. Your body and mind must be otherwise at rest to take on the challenge of changing.
Lack of sleep could hurt your efforts for better muscles
Sleep or lack of quality sleep, can impact your body in less obvious ways too! Getting plenty of rest allows you to wake more focused and engaged with everyday tasks. Conversely, when you don’t get enough sleep, you’re more likely to find yourself being less efficient and productive, as well as searching for sugary snacks to keep you going throughout the day.
Of course, too much sugar is not going to be helpful for your waistline or any weight loss goals you may have. When you workout your muscles will take energy from the easiest source of fuel. If you have loaded up on sugar throughout the day, they will take from these stores, without ever depleting them. This undermines your weight loss goals, as you never reach calorie deficit. Getting sufficient sleep allows your metabolism to function more optimally. You tend to crave less ‘pick-me-ups’ to get you through the day.
So, how do I sleep my way to better muscles?
There are some really simple ways to set yourself up for a great night sleep and get those muscles recovered and growing. Obviously, you need make sleep a priority. No more excuses. Set a non-negotiable bedtime and stick to it, just like you would your workout regimen or clean eating plan. Next, make sure you have the right tools to get your best sleep. That means investing in a quality mattress, supportive pillows and decent sheets. Finally, assess your sleep environment. Is it conducive for uninterrupted sleep? Make sure your sleep space is cool, dark and quiet so that you get the shut-eye you need. Check out the Active8me Get Sleep Fit Guide for more great tips!
As much as we love sleep it is important to remember that sleep alone is not going to do the work of growing and strengthening your muscles for you! You still need to workout using body weight resistance or weights on a regular basis to have optimal weight loss and achieve that lean, toned look! Check out one of our customized programs today.
Words By: Lisa Smalls
Lisa is a freelance writer and cycle instructor. Her battle with insomnia has ignited a passion to write about how sleep affects overall health and wellness. Lisa can be found writing about her passion for sleep at the Mattress Advisor.