You’re not getting enough sleep.
Sleep is a critical component in building muscle, yet is the most commonly overlooked aspect of it. Muscle tissue repairs itself and grows during rest periods, but sleep is more important than waking rest periods.
The best and most effective routines will not make up for a lack of rest, and sleep is the ultimate rest. Growth Hormone is produced and protein synthesis occurs during your sleep cycles. It also assists a lot of other important body functions i.e. The replacement of aging and dead cells and repair of muscle and tissue, lowering of energy consumption and recharging the brain.
Rest is one of the most important principles of exercise and the most commonly overlooked. Whilst sleeping, your body goes into a state of suspended animation and is doing exactly what you’ve been striving for – Builds muscle! Why would you cut this short by not getting enough sleep? All mammals, birds and fish observe a regular state of natural rest. The role of sleep in health and wellness has been intensively studied and still is to this day, restorative theories of sleep describe it as a time of healing and growth for all organisms.
Animal studies have shown that sleep is essential for survival. Animals deprived of sleep in studies, died after a matter of weeks! In humans, metabolic activity in the brain declines considerably after 24 hours of sustained wakefulness. Sleep is required for our nervous systems to work correctly and deep sleep is necessary for the release of growth hormone in children and young adults.
Though a lot of us think we can get by with 4-6 hours sleep, the reality is that although sleep is entirely individualized, the overwhelming majority of us need 7-8 hours to function normally. The quality of this sleep diminishes with age, but the need for it does not. Rest is also extremely important if you’re trying to gain muscle. Sleep is the best training partner you’ll have and depriving yourself of it not only limits your capacity to build, it also stunts your mental focus and co-ordination so your workouts are then less effective.
Our sleep is divided into cycles which consist of non-REM and REM phases. It’s during our non-REM deep sleep phase that we get the biggest human growth hormone spike. In short, HGH is an anabolic agent that promotes muscle recovery and growth among other things. In order to gain muscle, you need to make sure you get the biggest possible release of HGH every night .. how can this be achieved?
Since our HGH is released during the deep sleep phase and the deepest sleep occurs mid-cycle (usually around 2am) – try to make sure you go to bed in the early hours of the night. Their is a greater amount of deep sleep earlier in the cycle, whilst the proportion of REM sleep increases later in the cycle and just before wakening. During our restorative deep sleep phase, our blood pressure drops and breathing becomes deeper and slower. With our brain taking a time-out, there’s more blood to flow into our muscles. Increased nutrient rich blood flow and high HGH levels will drastically improve your ability to build muscle.
Lack of sleep however can quickly decrease the amount of growth hormone that your pituitary gland secretes during your deep sleep and growth hormone deficiency is associated with increased obesity, loss of muscle and reduced exercise capacity.
It is recommended you get 7-9 hours sleep a night. Sleep less than this and your seriously reducing your chances of growth and/or progression in the gym. If muscle gain is your goal, start going to bed earlier!