Articles and books on working out will often focus on the same few factors, with sleep and diet getting the most attention. The general consensus is that if you eat well and train hard, you will build muscle and lose fat.
Of course this is true to an extent, but there are many other factors that you need to consider as well. Your body is a reflection of your lifestyle as a whole, and you need to consider every last aspect of your daily routine if you want to get the very benefit from your training.
And one of the most important factors of all is sleep; which is responsible not only for giving us the energy we need to workout during the day, but also for giving our body the chance to recover and grow. Read on to find out why your sleep is so important, and how to get more out of it.
Why Sleep is So Important
When you work out the main goal as you know is to create ‘microtears’ in the muscle which later lead to hypertrophy. It’s by healing this minute damage that your body builds the fibers back thicker and this is what makes the muscle stronger and bigger over time.
But in order for your body to rebuild that damaged muscle fiber it needs the opportunity to rest and it needs to be in an anabolic state meaning that your body has an abundance of anabolic hormones like growth hormone and testosterone. As sleep is an anabolic state that means that you will build much more muscle while resting than you would while awake. FYI, if you’re under 18, then sleep is also when you’ll grow in height.
How to Increase Hormone Production During Sleep
The good news is that you can actually increase the amount of growth hormone and testosterone you produce during your sleep too and this can be accomplished in a number of ways. One is obviously to use supplements, and here using Gaba can help you to increase growth hormone production while a t-booster such as Tribulis Terrestris can help you to create more testosterone. As a rule though, these supplements aren’t particularly effective, and the chances are that they won’t help you to produce much more in terms of hormones than you do already unless you have a deficiency. Gaba in particular also has a number of unwanted side effects such as lethargy and potentially mood alterations – so you’re better off steering clear.
Fortunately more natural means can also be employed. For instance if you have a very hot shower just before bed, then this will stimulate your pituitary gland to produce more growth hormone during sleep. Likewise going for a run can also increase growth hormone production, and this will also help you to sleep more heavily too.
Sleeping deeply it’s important to note will also help you to produce more anabolic hormones, so make sure you get a good quality of rest by turning off all lights (including LED displays) and by reducing noise as much as possible (by using double glazing, heavy curtains, etc. etc.). A comfortable bed will also help a lot, and ensure you don’t wake with a bad back (which really isn’t ideal for your workout the next day).
If you are going to benefit from all this increase in anabolic activity however, you are going to need protein in your system to serve as the raw materials for rebuilding your body. Eating protein just before bed then is one of the very best times to do so (just behind that other anabolic window you get right after training). And for this before-bed protein snack you should consider using casein as opposed to whey. While whey is generally the superior form of protein, casein is ideal before bed, because it releases more slowly – meaning you’ll have a steady supply of amino acids throughout your sleep.
Finally, you want to ensure that when you wake up, you do so refreshed and with plenty of energy for the day ahead. One way to do this is to be as regular as possible with your sleep/wake cycles which will help your body to be more prepared for waking up when the time comes. Another is to make sure that you wake yourself up naturally and gradually – using a ‘daylight lamp’ which gradually gets brighter as it gets closer to the time you need to wake up is one effective way to do this.
About the Author: Paul Macdonald is the director of sales for www.my-waterbed-shop.com, a fast growing online retailer of waterbeds and related products.