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The three key elements in building quality lean muscle are undoubtedly rest, training, and nutrition. Even though rest can mean not lifting for two days in the week, or not lifting for one week after every eight weeks, the sleeping aspect is as important as nutrition and rest. If you train hard, you have to sleep ‘hard’.

Benefits of Sleep For Athletes

The average person living in a first world country only gets 7 hours of sleep according to a recent study. According to a study done on men 18 to 35, sleep deprivation led to glucose metabolism dropping 30-40% and had higher levels of cortisol. High levels of cortisol can lead to insulin resistance, increased fat, muscle breakdown, reduced athletic recovery, and other effects. The lowering of glucose metabolism normally seen in elder men led researches to speculate that prolonged sleep deprivation can also increase aging.

Improving Sleep For Muscle

The body releases human growth hormone during sleep. Although the biggest spike is after you fall asleep, you will continue to release Growth Hormone (GH) in bursts throughout sleep. Getting a good night’s sleep without any interruptions will help make sure you get adequate GH released. All research studies on this topic have one common denominator- sleep deprivation causes cortisol to rise. Cortisol is a catabolic hormone and works in the opposite fashion of testosterone, an anabolic muscle building hormone. The higher cortisol levels and other effects on the body shown by this study show it is necessary to get quality sleep every night or it will greatly affect your ability to gain muscle or lose fat.

Sleep Requirements For Bodybuilders

Everyone seems to have slightly different requirements. Age, genetics, and lifestyle play a role. Generally a bodybuilder should aim for at least 8 to 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep. ZMA and natural GH stimulators (normally in the form of arginine pyroglutamate and lysine) may be effective for improving sleep.

Testosterone & Sleep

Care to guess the best way is to increase testosterone?  You would probably guess that it has to be something that requires a huge amount of effort or expense, right?  Well, actually all you need to do is sleep, sleep, sleep. While one sleeps – that is assuming the sleep is uninterrupted – the body ramps up testosterone production. Testosterone levels are at a daily peak at about 8 a.m. and then decrease to a daily low at about 8 p.m. Lack of sleep leads to decreased long term testosterone through a variety of means. One of these is the fact that of sleep leads to greatly reduced glucose sensitivity making. You become much more insulin resistant. For example, one recent study placed 11 participants in a closed environment where sleep, calories and physical activity could be carefully controlled. The researchers found that as those in the study went from 8.5 hours of sleep to 5.5 hours, their blood sugar was significantly higher and their insulin resistance significantly worse. You need quality sleep to bring your testosterone back up to optimal levels. While you are sleeping, your body literally turns on its testosterone engine and injects extra testosterone into your system in cycles based on basic sleep stages. The more uninterrupted sleep, the more testosterone potentially. As has been evidenced, quality sleep is a crucial element in not only gaining lean muscle mass, but also crucial in sustaining muscle mass. Professional bodybuilders work extremely hard in the gym together with their stringent nutritional habits - all of which is followed through with quality sleep. This should be the case for anyone who is serious about bodybuilding. So, give your pillow some extra head time and squeeze in an extra hour or two for quality muscle gains.

Penev PD. Association between sleep and morning testosterone levels in older men. Sleep, 2007; 30(4):427-432.Belenky G, Wesensten NJ, Thorne DR, Thomas ML, Sing HC, Redmond DP, Russo MB, Balkin TJ. 2003 Patterns of performance degradation and restoration during sleep restriction and subsequent recovery: a sleep dose-response study. J Sleep Res, 2003; 12(1):1-12.
Spiegel, Leproud, and Van Cauter. Impact of sleep debt on metabolic and endocrine function. The Lancet (1999;354:1435-1439)

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