Lifting weights is an excellent way to build strength in your core and grow your muscles. You’ve probably heard about what you should eat for optimal muscle growth and repair after a workout, but you could be surprised to discover that sleep plays a big role in your muscle recovery, repair and growth after a weightlifting session. Scientists are just beginning to uncover how muscle development is tied to sleep, and here’s what you need to know.
While you sleep, your body releases hormones that assist with the building of muscle tissue. These include human growth hormone, which is responsible for growing new muscle cells. While you are in the deep stage of sleep, your body also increases the level of circulation to your tissues. This allows your muscles to get more oxygen and nutrition, which further enhances their rate of growth.
Sleep stage three is also when your body gets to work repairing the damage that took place during the day. Lifting weights is known for causing minute tears in muscle tissue. While you sleep, your body repairs those tears. The body also cleans out the metabolic waste products from the cells. Weight lifting requires an intense metabolic rate, and your cells aren’t able to clear out all the waste at the time you’re exercising. Your body finishes removing those waste products while you sleep.
Recovery of Muscles After a Workout
Lifting weights and doing other forms of strength training makes your muscles contract. If you do a lot of repetitions, your muscles could end up stiff and somewhat sore. During the rapid eye movement stage of sleep, your muscles finally get a chance to relax. This release of tension alleviates your aches and pains from doing a new lift or doing too many lifts. Rapid eye movement sleep also lessens chronic pain. If you have an old back injury or another type of ongoing pain that gets worse from vigorous workouts, a deep sleep on the right mattresswill reduce your symptoms.
While you sleep, your body builds muscle memory. Your brain makes connections of what you did and ties those connections into your past experiences. Getting at least seven to nine hours of quality sleep after an intense workout improves your muscle recall for the next workout session. This is why your second try of a new exercise or sport is often smoother and more coordinated.
Professional basketball players who added two hours of sleep to their nightly routines demonstrated a 5 percent increase in their time and speed. If you want to be more coordinated as an athlete or in your regular exercise, a good night’s sleep is key.
Getting a Better Night’s Sleep
Strength training itself can help you sleep better at night. You could fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer and reduce your awakenings between sleep cycles by adding strength training to your workout routine. Sleep and strength training have a positive reinforcement. The more you sleep, the stronger your muscles get, and the more strength training you do, the better your sleep. You can also improve your sleep by maintaining a dark bedroom, setting the thermostat to 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit and investing in a new, high-quality mattress every five to 10 years.