Eating a healthy diet, for our bodies, is a vital part of what keeps us going and what helps keep our bodies healthy, organs functioning properly, and assists in giving our body the energy it needs to maintain our daily lifestyles full of busy schedules and large workloads. However, in order for our healthy eating and hours at the gym to not go to waste, it’s important that we focus on some other aspects of our health to ensure that our body can take on the daily challenges of life.
Believe it or not, sleep has a profound affect also, on how our bodies metabolize food, our alertness and ability to problem solve, and getting adequate sleep can even contribute to muscle growth for the avid gym goer. The rule of thumb, for most people, is that we should maintain at least seven to nine hours of sleep. However, if you take the advice from sleep experts, from the Wall Street Journal, it turns out that for the average person, seven hours of sleep is best, as eight or more hours has been proven to be more damaging, (3) but when it comes to building muscle, the rules are a little bit different.
According to bodybuilding.com, in their article “Sleep and Muscle Growth,” they write, “Sleep plays a role in protein synthesis, the release of GH and gives you the necessary energy needed for another day in the gym.” They further go on to stress about how work, parties and stress, along with other activities or emotional distractions can both attack and negatively impact our sleeping patterns. Getting a handle on these types of interruptions may be difficult, so a sense of time management may be needed to help navigate your own personal issues with sleep disturbances.
The article further goes on to give us an insightful definition of what exactly “rest” is, since a lot of us are wondering, how in the world can we get enough rest when I am shoveling kids to and from school, I work full-time, I must hit the gym, have to do laundry and grocery shop.. Rest? What’s rest?
Bodybuilding.com defines rest (and explains why it is so important) as “Rest is the period in between workouts that includes low energy loss activities. Each body part requires a different number of days to recover. Hypothetically speaking, every time you work out, you should be stronger than the previous time, given you have allowed yourself enough rest.”
So, maybe just sitting on the couch, while you may have a little down time to watch a movie, may just qualify as “rest” based off of their definition. Interestingly, however, there are multiple ways to rest, and one of them is actually often classified as an exercise in itself: yoga. Before you envision twisting yourself into an exhausted pretzel, take a look at a few of the words a yoga student shares about a unique type of yoga, on mindbodygreen.com: “When the meditation came to a close, I sat up and noticed an amazing surge of peaceful energy flowing through my entire body,” describes the former insomniac, who had resigned to a life with little sleep before finding Yoga Nidra. Yoga Nidra means “yogi sleep,” and it takes you through the waking state, dream state and even into deep sleep state, all while you are awake. Just a mere 30 minutes of this exercise, which mostly involves positions of rest, is equivalent to up to 4 hours of sleep. If you are having trouble reaching the proper number of hours for sleep, yoga just might be a good substitute from time to time.
Once you rest and get back to working out, you may feel as though your muscles have grown. According to the site, “That pumped feeling is just rushing blood and stretched muscle fibers. So, how much rest should one get? That answer is totally up to the individual. So, where does sleep equate with the phenomenon of rest?” And furthermore, why is sleep so important to muscle growth?
Bodybuilding.com tells us that the number one, most important reason that sleep is vital to muscle growth is because the Human Growth Hormone (HGH) rises within 35-40 minutes after falling asleep. The HGH is also known as Somatotropin, which is an amino acid produced in the pituitary gland of the brain. It also plays a huge role in human growth from adolescence to adulthood and affects skeletal growth.
The site goes on to say that “During puberty, HGH levels determine height and bone size. After puberty, HGH levels start to decline, and by age 61 decrease to 20% of what they were at age 21. HGH is continually produced throughout the human life-cycle, and continues to regulate the body’s metabolism.”
Relentlessgains.com gives us a more comprehensive look into this subject in their article, “How Does Sleep Affect Muscle Growth?” It’s common knowledge to all the gym buffs that during a workout, our muscles build a large number of microscopic tears, of course these tears all have to be repaired in order to become stronger and grow muscle tissue and mass.
According to the article, “The two main factors in how well your muscles are repaired after training are sleep and nutrition,” says that “During sleep your body will conduct protein metabolism at a much faster rate than when you are awake. Getting enough sleep every night is crucial to ensuring that your muscles are repaired and recover properly. This is especially true when you’re strength training. Getting a good night’s rest is important every night, although it is even more important on the days you train. You should be aiming for anywhere from 8 to 10 hours of sleep every night. If you sleep any longer than that you may be resetting your body’s natural clock and may find it much more difficult to fall asleep on time the following night.” (2.)
Regardless of how many hours of sleep your body requires, it’s important to keep in mind that sleep is the body’s way to recover, reset and repair. It accomplished this through the release of testosterone, HGH, and melatonin, which play a huge role in reproduction and repair of vital cells in the body. In order to repair any damage we do to our bodies while training, it’s very important that we put our sleep efforts on the same level of importance as our training and our diet.