The importance of sleep is no doubt very big and not only for getting fit and building muscle but your overall health as well. But just knowing that is not enough. There are several things you can do to take full advantage of sleep to improve your physique.
First, you need to understand how you sleep during the night, the structure of your sleep so to speak. Your sleeps come in cycles each consisting of multiple levels, the two of which are the most important for us – Deep Sleep and REM sleep levels. Each cycle takes about 90 minutes for an average person and your body enters a few Deep Sleep and REM levels during the night.
When Do Your Muscles Grow?
Your muscles grow in the Deep Sleep level when your body enters the stage of physical regeneration (while REM is when your mind regenerates), that’s when the growth hormones are most active. It’s important to note that the growth hormones are most active in the first cycle, about an hour in your sleep. That’s why this stage of your sleep is the most important for muscle growth.
Take Advantage of the First Cycle Deep Sleep
So how do you take advantage of this stage of sleep? You have to make sure your body has the maximum nutrition available at the same time as growth hormones are most active. One way to do that is to take whey protein before going to bed. Whey protein is a fast-acting protein and is digested about an hour after the use, that’s exactly when you enter the first Deep Sleep stage.
Make Use of All Sleep Cycles
Using slow-acting protein will supply the required nutrition for the remaining sleep cycles. Casein is one of the slow-acting proteins that is digested for about 7 hours and can provide that nutrition.
The most effective way to get both, whey and casein proteins is using powder supplements. But if you do not want to do that, you can eat dairy food before going to bed as an alternative.
Wake Up at the Right Time
Are you having tough time waking up to an alarm clock? That’s because you are probably woken up during the deep sleep or REM stages, when your body is the regenerative state. A disruption in this state very negatively affects not only the way you feel, but your muscle growth and overall health too.
To avoid this, set your alarm clock at 90 minute marks of your sleep (when a cycle ends), that is at 6, 7.5 or 9 hours. Another option is using a Sleep Cycle alarm clock app for your smartphone which analyses the way you sleep and can wake you up only at the correct time.
So there you have it, if you make use of these tips you will quite literally build muscle while you sleep.