Contrary to popular belief, you don’t build muscle in the gym; the damage created when training gives the opportunity to grow outside of the gym.
However, without the correct diet, supplementation plan, and adequate sleep, new muscle growth can be difficult to achieve.
Eating a diet rich in protein provides the necessary amino acids to develop muscle mass after the fibers are broken down through annihilation in the gym.
Appropriate amounts of energy from natural foods are also needed to facilitate muscle growth.
Of course, being consistent with this process is intrinsic to your success. There are a few key factors that are critical to your success, which includes:
- Crush the muscle in the gym with intensity and overload.
- Feed the body with enough nutrients to support recovery then growth.
- Enjoy plentiful amounts of deep sleep to let the muscle recover and grow.
For the sake of this article, I’m going to presume that you’re eating the right foods, in the correct amounts, and at the appropriate times. I hope you’ve spent time educating yourself on the importance of quality of the supplements you put into your body daily.
Provided you’ve said, “yes” to both, I’ll share six sleep principles which I use to help build muscle.
1. Avoid Synthetic Stimulants
Cheap, synthetic stimulants have a habit of putting a significant burden on the adrenal glands. Ironically, although people take these stimulants to feel more energized, that effect is often short-lived, requiring higher dosages each time to get an elevation in focus and energy.
As your adrenal glands become fatigued, getting a good night’s sleep is actually harder because you’re never truly able to wake up, and therefore can’t completely “switch off” either. It’s a vicious cycle!
Related: Sleep Science - Nature's Most Effective Performance Enhancer
Taking stimulants close to bedtime can also ruin the quality of your sleep. Caffeine usually has a 5-6 hour half-life, during that period your CNS will be much more stimulated. The opposite of what you need to fall to sleep without a struggle.
My experiences with stimulants for enhancing performance in the gym, without affecting sleep, is to focus on the quality, not the quantity. There is a definitive difference in the way my body feels after using a cleaner source of organic caffeine, compared to cheaper synthetic sources of caffeine.
2. Night Time Nutrition
Eating before bed is good practice for building muscle because of the long stint you're about to undergo without catabolic buffering food. My recommendation is a premium slow digesting protein.
The protein I use is cold-processed and produced with an innovative microfiltration process. This type of protein forms a gel in the gut, which prolongs the release of muscle sparing amino acids for a 5-7 hour period.
If it is required, sometimes having a small portion of oats can also help with sleep because of carbohydrates relationship with serotonin, causing the body to secrete more which sends you to sleep. Adding some berries can give an extra boost in nutrition, providing your body with antioxidants and plenty of vitamins.
Around an hour before bedtime focus on unwinding. Try to avoid mentally stimulating activities such as exciting movies.
Stress is something else to be avoided so don’t check your work emails. Things like this can really effect your mood, putting your mind on alert and consequently upsetting sleep. Reading books, having a bath in a darkened candle lit room and listening to slow paced music can all help to unwind the mind ready for sleep.
You’ve got to take control of this time of the day and prevent anything from becoming a distraction. Like I always say, control your environment or be controlled by it.
4. Sleep Enhancing Supplementation
Magnesium is an effective natural mineral which can enhance sleep quality. The pathway in which this is achieved is through helping the CNS relax, turning down activity. This doesn't just make you sleep better; it also helps muscles recover much quicker.
Building muscle starts with recovery because the damaged fibers need to repair, this also allows for much better performance in the next workout. Taking another mineral, zinc, can also help build muscle during sleep because of its testosterone boosting properties.
5. Switch Devices Off
Switch any mobile devices off during the hour before bed, so your brain isn’t distracted with all of the online media available at your fingertips! Doing so is very important because remember your mind needs to avoid excess stimulation at this time of the day to unwind.
Somebody might message you which might stress you out or leave you contemplating what they've said all night. Avoid that situation by switching all devices off!
Mobile devices also give off something called “blue light.” This light can affect the brain, upsetting sleep quality. Even if it is in the room you’re sleeping in, and you’re not looking at it, there can still be adverse side effects. Keep all devices out of the room!
Your room should be completely blacked out, so there’s no light shining through the windows, underneath the door, shining from any clocks or things alike.
Related: Hacking Your Sleep 101 - Nine Tips For Better Gains
The human brain is much better at falling asleep in complete darkness although in the modern age it is more difficult to achieve a total blackout. With some effort, you can, and your muscle growth will benefit from it!
To summarize there are so many benefits for muscle growth associated with improving sleep.
- Better CNS recovery which improves performance in the gym and overall muscle regrowth after training.
- Less stress which reduces cortisol, a known catabolic hormone which can reduce muscle growth.
- Increased natural testosterone and growth hormone both of which are highly anabolic hormones, supportive of muscle regeneration and growth.
Deploy the tips I’ve shared to enhance your sleep specifically for muscle growth and I’m certain you will notice the benefits very quickly.
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