Weightlifters and people who love to work out are generally always on the lookout for new and effective ways to gain muscle. They are continually searching for better supplements, perfect training routine, a new diet, and new ways to optimize their workout effectiveness.
No one denies that a quality training routine and a proper dietary and supplemental program are vital for gaining muscle. However, most of us aren’t aware that having a good night’s sleep is equally important.
Why Is Sleep Important for Weightlifters?
Sleep is essential for the cellular, organic, and systemic functions of an organism and its absence can severely jeopardize our physical and mental health. Studies show that you can never compensate insufficient rest. So, even the best workout routine, diet, and supplements cannot provide everything your body needs the way sleep can.
Lack of sleep, apart from affecting glucose regulation, blood pressure, hormonal secretion, and cognitive performance, also causes muscle loss. Sleep scientists explain that lack of shuteye slows down protein synthesis and increases the activities necessary for protein degradation. In the end, this will ultimately lead to loss of muscle mass.
Additionally, increased activity of degradation pathways also negatively affects muscle recovery after the damage that is induced either by exercise or an injury. In that case, if you really want your training routine to work, you have to ensure you have 8 or 9 hours of sleep every night. Without adequate sleep, the time spent in the gym will be, to a large degree, wasted.
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Sleep is also essential for weightlifters for a bunch of other reasons. During sleep, you give your body a chance to repair, recharge, and regrow both physically and mentally. During REM sleep, our body restores organs, bones, and tissue. Immune cells are replenished, and the human growth hormone is produced. All of this has a positive effect on muscle growth and overall physical wellbeing.
So, now when you are familiarized with the importance of sleep, you are probably wondering how much sack time you should be getting to optimize the efficiency of your workouts.
Establish a Sleep Routine
Establishing a sleep routine will help weightlifters to ensure their brain experiences all sleep stage. These are crucial for adequate muscle growth and recovery. Two most important stages of sleep are REM and non-REM sleep.
A typical sleep cycle commences with four cycles of non-REM sleep. After this, REM sleep begins, also known as Rapid Eye Movement. An individual usually experiences around five cycles or REM sleep per night. Non-REM sleep is a passive phase of sleep during which muscles repair and replenish. On the other side, REM sleep is an active stage of sleep which promotes muscle growth.
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To ensure you have four cycles of non-REM sleep and five cycles of REM sleep every night, you should establish a sleep routine. Your routine will help you relax before bed and fall asleep faster. Some ideas include reading, enjoying a warm bath, listening to calm music, watching a movie, or anything else that relaxes you.
Just make sure you don’t do anything that excites you.
To properly tune your circadian rhythm, go to bed and wake up at the same time every day (Including weekends). A good night’s sleep is all about quality and not quantity. In order to give our body a chance to repair itself, you must have seven to nine hours of interrupted sleep per night. Sleeping less or more will not only detune your inner clock but also prevent efficient muscle repair and growth.
Correct Sleeping Environment
Make sure you sleep on the best mattress you can afford. Without a quality mattress, it is impossible to get a good night’s sleep.
The temperature in your bedroom should be reasonably cool. Sleeping in a too warm and humid bedroom will disrupt your sleep.
Shut down all light-emitting devices in your bedroom at least 30 minutes before bed. This includes your smartphone, laptop, and TV. Limiting your exposure to devices that emit blue light is necessary. This is because they all suppress the natural release of melatonin, a hormone that is crucial for regulating your circadian rhythm.
Don’t Exercise Before Bedtime
Regular exercise is crucial for improving the quality of your sleep. However, lifting weights close to bedtime will alert your mind and raise your body temperature. When your body temperature is elevated, and the brain is stimulated, you won’t be able to fall asleep properly.
We know that it can be hard to make enough time and that you have to squeeze in workouts whenever you can. However, you mustn’t exercise 3 to 4 hours before bed unless you want to spend the entire night fighting off insomnia.
Cut Out the Booze
You certainly know that alcohol negatively affects muscle growth and lowers your testosterone levels. But did you know that alcohol can also mess with your sleep and wake cycle? If you do consume alcohol before bed, your body won’t be able to repair your muscles properly nor produce the necessary hormones that help them grow.
Drink a Lot of Fluid
As weightlifters, we are always told to stay hydrated because dehydration can limit our performance and increase fatigue. Hydration is essential for recovering your muscles faster. Drinking a lot of water helps to flush out the toxins from your body, thus allowing your muscles to recover from exercise and alleviate soreness.
Hydration is also crucial for having a better night’s sleep. Going to bed even slightly dehydrated can disrupt your sleep. First, your mouth and nasal passages will become dry, providing the perfect conditions for sleep-disruptive snoring and a sore throat in the morning. A lack of fluids can also cause nocturnal leg cramps that may keep you awake during the entire night.
To have a restful and uninterrupted sleep, focus on drinking a lot of non-caffeinated fluids evenly throughout the whole day. Drinking too much fluid before bed will lead to multiple unpleasant nighttime bathroom trips that will prevent you from achieving quality sleep.