"We are born to be fit, strong, and healthy." Robb Wolf

September 18, 2011

Sleep And Muscle Recovery

A few months back I posted a poster that was quite informative and to the point about sleep. Now I am going to expand a bit and explain why sleep is very important and how it affects everything we do in life.

Sleep is an active physiological process. Ideally, when you first fall asleep, you enter a non-REM stage (rapid eye movement). It is during this stage where you cannot be awakened and the body begins to restore itself. After a few hours you enter the REM stage where dreams occur. You can be woken up during this phase. This process repeats itself several times throughout the night. But most people do not go through this entire process. A good way to tell if you have gone through the rebuilding process is if you feel rested upon awakening in the morning. If you still feel tired or fatigued, that is a good sign that the body is not healed/recovered and good quality sleep was not attained.
Sometimes overlooked, sleep is extremely important in the development of muscle. It is just as important as nutrition and training. Many people think that by increasing the weight and rep scheme will increase muscle mass. While this is true, it is not the only way for muscle to develop.
The reason why sleep is so important is human growth hormone (hGH) is secreted from the pituitary gland. This usually occurs within the first 30 - 45 minutes of sleeping. The effects of HGH of human tissue is growth and encourage cell production amongst others. Some of the physiologic effects on the body include:
  1. stimulation of protein synthesis - a process where the body makes proteins in order to repair itself
  2. increased lipolysis and lipid oxidation, which subsequently leads to the mobilization of stored triglycerides - fat is broken down which causes fat that is stored to be released to be burned as energy
  3. antagonism of insulin action - helps decrease the action of insulin therefore not promoting fat storage
  4. sodium and water retention - helps to keep hydrated
 A study was performed back in 1990 and published in the New England Journal of Medicine where 12 men over the age of 60 were treated with HGH. At the conclusion of the study, all men showed significant gains in lean body mass and bone mineral. The control group did not show any improvement.
After working out, the body requires time to recover. Recovery time, on average, is approximately 8 hours. So that means getting 8 hours of quality sleep each night. Most people lead stressful lives and do not get the quality of sleep required for recovery.
So, when sleeping, muscles repair and grow thereby making your abilities during your next workout to improve. If you don’t get enough sleep all your efforts will not be rewarded.