Let’s face it, as we grow older as both bodybuilders and people, we begin to appreciate sleep more and more, which is ironic, as many of us actually don’t get enough. When we were younger we could go to bed when we wanted, get up when we wanted, and not feel any ill effects in the slightest. As time goes by however, we find ourselves feeling more and more tired, and we still don’t do anything about it. Sleep can benefit us in a number of ways, but especially when it comes to exercise, with weight training and bodybuilding in particular. If you’re serious about your weight training, and are looking to build muscle, lose fat, tone up and improve your physique, then you must ensure that you’re getting enough good quality sleep on a nightly basis. Here are a couple of examples of how a lack of sleep could be affecting your muscle building potential.
Sleep Helps Us Feel Energized – Sleep is beneficial for weight training for a variety of different reasons, some obvious, and some not so much. For starters, if you go to bed late at night, and wake up early after only a few hours of sleep, how do you feel generally? Do you feel happy, energetic, motivated and ready to take on the world? Or do you feel tired, lazy, lethargic, and generally starved of energy and motivation? It’s the second example right? Yes, if you feel tired the last thing you want to do is go to the gym and weight train intensely, and you’d much rather lounge about on the sofa in the evening, watching TV and doing absolutely nothing. When you get enough sleep, you have the energy to do things, including workout.
Sleep is Literally Vital for Building Muscle – Now, onto the most important reason as to why sleep is so vital for weight training. When we lift weights in the gym, we don’t build muscle at all, we destroy it, or rather, we destroy the tiny muscle fibers contained within our muscles and our muscle tissue. That’s why we ache afterwards, because we’ve literally damaged our muscles. We build muscle when we rest, or rather, our bodies build muscle when we rest, by taking nutrients from the food we eat, and using them to rebuild the damaged and destroyed muscle fibers. Guess when the body does this? Yep you got it, the body repairs and rebuilds our muscles whilst we sleep. Think of the muscle fibers inside your muscles like a wall.
Imagine that the wall became damaged during a fierce storm, which was actually your workout destroying the muscle fibers. Now, whilst we sleep, imagine these muscle fibers are a series of bricks being used on a wall. The body rebuilds the wall even bigger and stronger than it was previously, in order to try and protect it in the future. It’s the same principle for your muscles, the body repairs and rebuilds these muscle tissues and fibers even bigger and stronger, to try and protect them from being damaged during any future workouts. If you don’t get enough sleep however, then the body can’t properly repair and rebuild new muscles and muscle tissue, meaning that all of your effort in the gym was essentially for nothing.
Ensure you get into the habit of going to sleep at the same time, every night, and getting out of bed at the same time every morning. The body loves routine. Aim for between 7 and 9 hours sleep a night, and you’ll be good to go.