Bodybuilders and professionals alike have long touted the benefits of sleep when trying to optimize gains. Sure, everyone knows that you have to train hard and eat well, but why is sleep so important?
We know that our muscles adapt to training (grow) during the recovery period. The recovery period is simply the time between workouts (general or specific to the muscle group). This is why it’s so important to eat well; proper nutrition is necessary for facilitating recovery and optimizing gains. However, what’s something you [should] do 8-hours every day? Sleep!
When we sleep, our bodies release several different anabolic hormones that help repair muscle tissue and assist in directing the chemical network required to build muscle. If we miss out on sleep, we don’t get the optimal hormone release. Think of this as a road crew; which road crew would get more work done: a crew working 6-hours per day or a crew working 8-hours per day? It’s a no brainer.
So, what happens if we don’t get enough sleep? Nothing good, that’s for sure. Our Sleep and Bodybuilding article (here) goes much further into detail on that front. But, this specific study found that insufficient sleep (5.5-hrs/night) also impaired subjects’ ability to lose fat during a diet. This is likely due to hormone imbalances that arise from poor sleep that can reduce your metabolism and increase cravings for naughty food.
With all of these concerns in mind, we strongly recommend bodybuilders to get at least 7-hours of sleep per night. 8-9 hours would be even better, but we know that’s an incredibly difficult proposal in today’s age. Your best bet is to develop a decently strict sleep schedule; you should always plan on heading to bed and waking up about the same time everyday. This helps you get into a routine and should also improve your sleep quality. Unfortunately, the argument with your significant other over going to bed at 9pm every night is on you. Good luck.
Nedeltcheva, A. V., Kilkus, J. M., Imperial, J., Schoeller, D. A., & Penev, P. D. (2010). Insufficient sleep undermines dietary efforts to reduce adiposity. Annals of Internal Medicine, 153(7), 435-441.
From being a mediocre athlete, to professional powerlifter and strength coach, and now to researcher and writer, Charlie combines education and experience in the effort to help Bridge the Gap Between Science and Application. Charlie performs double duty by being the Content Manager for The Muscle PhD as well as the Director of Human Performance at the Applied Science and Performance Institute in Tampa, FL. To appease the nerds, Charlie is a PhD candidate in Human Performance with a master’s degree in Kinesiology and a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science. For more alphabet soup, Charlie is also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), an ACSM-certified Exercise Physiologist (ACSM-EP), and a USA Weightlifting-certified performance coach (USAW).