Post-workout recovery is critical, and sleep is widely recognized as an essential part of recovery. Find out more about what sleep is, why it is important, and how to increase its anabolic effect!
While resistance training is an effective way to achieve significant improvements in physique (i.e., increase in muscle mass and burn fat), it takes a tremendous amount of effort. This means that post-workout recovery is critical, and sleep is widely recognized as a critical component of recovery. It’s just a fact: in order to recover and grow, you need to rest.
Unfortunately, sleep is sometimes an unaffordable luxury, and many bodybuilders do not get enough of it. Sometimes a busy workout schedule is to blame, sometimes neglect of the importance of sleep. This is a mistake, because this attitude towards sleep will lead to the fact that you will be painfully marking time in one place, not seeing any progress.
After you read this article, you will know what sleep is, how it works, why it is important, and how best to increase the anabolic effect of sleep for more muscle growth.
The phases of sleep are regulated by the biological clock in accordance with the time of day.
In the morning, as light levels rise, your body begins to release more chemicals like adrenaline and dopamine, while simultaneously decreasing the release of chemicals that cause drowsiness. This allows you to wake up and invigorate.
Adrenaline is a hormone and neurotransmitter. It is a catecholamine, a sympathomimetic monoamine that is derived from the amino acids phenylalanine and tyrosine .Dopamine is a neurotransmitter found in a wide variety of animals, both vertebrates and invertebrates. In the brain, phenethylamine works as a neurotransmitter, activating five types of dopamine receptors: D1, D2, D3, D4, and D5, as well as their subtypes.
In the evenings, when light levels decrease, the body begins to release more substances such as serotonin, melatonin and gamma-aminobutyric acid, while simultaneously reducing the release of substances that stimulate activity. It allows you to relax and prepares you for sleep.
Serotonin is a monoamine neurotransmitter synthesized in serotonergic neurons in the central nervous system and in enterochromaffin cells in the gastrointestinal tract.
Melatonin is a natural hormone. Circulation levels differ at different times of the day, and melatonin plays an important role in the regulation of circadian rhythms in several biological functions.
Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is the main inhibitory neurotransmitter in the mammalian CNS. It plays an important role in regulating the excitability of neurons throughout the nervous system.
Sleep includes a number of periods that can be divided into five phases:
The first phase of sleep
Drowsiness, slowing down of brain activity, closing of eyes. It is in this phase of sleep that you are most easily awakened.
The second phase of sleep
Further slowing down of brain activity and increasing muscle relaxation. The heart rate slows down, the body temperature goes down. The musculoskeletal system begins to shut down, preparing for deep sleep.
The third and fourth phases of sleep
Continued decrease in brain activity, complete shutdown of the musculoskeletal system, loss of awareness and slowing down of metabolism.
The third phase passes into the fourth – the deepest stage of sleep, from which a person is most difficult to wake up. This is the most beneficial phase of sleep, as it is during this phase that growth hormone levels peak.
The fifth phase of sleep is the so-called REM sleep. During this phase, the eyes move quickly, and the person in it sees vivid dreams. Heart rate and breathing rate accelerate, blood pressure rises.
Over the course of one night, we repeatedly go through all these phases. This diagram shows how the phases of sleep replace each other.
As you can see, sleep phases change each other many times, and REM sleep from time to time “interferes” with this process.
The importance of sleep: anabolism and more
So, with the science out of the way, let’s move on to the fun: How can sleep help your health and increase muscle mass?
Sleep has an invaluable effect on your entire body. It is during sleep that your body recovers from exertion, heals damage and builds muscle mass. During sleep, hormones are released most intensively, which is why sleep has an anabolic effect.
In addition, during sleep, the reserves of neurotransmitters (special chemicals) are replenished, which are necessary for strength training to be effective and safe. These neurotransmitters include dopamine, adrenaline, norepinephrine, acetylcholine, and more.
These substances are responsible for alertness, focus, motivation, overall energy levels, and muscle contractions. They are depleted from hard training and any other activity. Only sleep allows the body to heal itself, replenishing the reserves of the substances it needs to achieve results.
At the same time, sleep is important for the immune system, mental health and the millions of biological processes that take place in the body every day. Without enough sleep, your body will not function properly, your health will deteriorate, and your results will drop.
The consequences of lack of sleep
Not getting enough sleep is the best way to worsen your health and cause muscle wasting. Sleep deprivation is associated with a number of diseases, including depression, lowered immunity, and a number of serious illnesses, incl. heart problems.
When it comes to building muscle, sleep deprivation is particularly damaging, as less sleep leads to less time the body has to recover and grow.
As a result, it can cause inflammation throughout the body, increased cortisol levels, catabolism, decreased muscle tissue, and increased adipose tissue. In addition, lack of sleep leads to a decrease in the level of anabolic hormones and disruptions in the normal functioning of the body.
Scientific fact: lack of sleep increases the stress that the body receives from training, and a person is at risk of overtraining. But there is another consequence of lack of sleep: an increased risk of injury.
Lack of sleep will have a huge negative impact on your ability to concentrate – and thus, stay alert in the gym. Without proper concentration, you will not be able to pay attention to following the technique during the exercise, and because of this, the risk of injury increases.
How to maximize the anabolic effect of sleep
The best way to increase the anabolic effect of sleep is to:
- Change the environment in which you sleep
- Use effective nutritional supplements
An increase in the anabolic effect of sleep means an increase in the quality and quantity of sleep itself – in that sequence.
The quality of sleep is more important than its quantity – any person who is constantly awakened by something will confirm this to you. For the anabolic effect of sleep to be maximized, sleep must be deep.
The environment in which you sleep has a huge impact on how easily you fall asleep and how much you sleep. Nowadays, many people find it difficult to fall asleep because they are surrounded by too much light and noise.
Although it is almost impossible to provide yourself with a completely dark and quiet environment, you need to try to get as close to this as possible.
As already mentioned, sleep phases change in accordance with the time of day. In the morning, when the light level rises, you wake up. In the evening, when the light levels drop, you begin to relax. This is mainly due to melatonin.
Scientific studies have shown that melatonin stimulates the onset of sleep, and light reduces the release of melatonin in the human body. In other words, if there is too much light where you sleep, your body’s secretion of sleep hormones will be lowered, making it harder for you to fall asleep.
Noise also affects your ability to fall asleep, because while your brain can fall asleep in incomplete silence, it continues to perceive sounds, which means that noise can wake you up in the middle of the night, even when you are in the deepest and most rewarding sleep phase.
Therefore, do your best to shield yourself from light and noise during sleep. By doing this, you will be able to fall asleep more easily and sleep without waking up into the morning.