What a lot of people may not realize is that a very important part of gaining weight and building muscle mass is actually getting enough quality sleep every night.
Your muscles don't grow in the gym, they grow only when you are resting in the hours and days following a workout. So you need to make sure you give your body plenty of good, high-quality sleep to maximize recovery and repair.
Here are 4 good reasons why sleep is an underrated yet highly crucial aspect of bulking up:
So how exactly does sleep affect the muscle building process? Let's find out by listing what will happen if you DON'T get a good night's rest:
1. Your mental focus will decrease
By not giving yourself adequate sleep you are affecting your mental state. It's been proven that by just missing out on one night of decent sleep, you will find it hard to focus on completing some tasks.
This lack of mental strength will almost certainly affect your workouts, because you need a lot of focus and mental strength to push through a workout with heavy weights.
2. Physical performance will decrease
Lack of sleep also affects you physically as well as mentally. Without proper sleep you will be weaker and won't be able to summon as much energy during your workouts. This could mean you will use lighter weights, or won't do as many reps.
In your quest to building bigger muscles, this is not a good thing because you will be wanting to have the strength to lift the heaviest weights you can, and for the most amount of reps possible.
If you're tired because of your sleeping habits, then there's little chance of you increasing your weight and/or reps from the week before. Therefore you won't be pushing yourself hard enough to build bigger muscle mass.
3. Muscle repair and recovery will slow down
Like I mentioned before, your muscles grow whilst you are resting and sleeping. So by not giving yourself enough quality sleep your body isn't able to repair and recover your muscles as well as it could. This isn't good news if your goal is building big muscles!
4. Hormone levels will be affected
Another main drawback to lack of sleep is that important muscle building hormones will be negatively affected. I'm talking about such hormones as testosterone, growth hormone, cortisol and insulin.
These hormones play a major part in your body's ability to build muscle and burn fat. Let's take a look at them in a little more detail and how lack of sleep will affect them in a bad way.
Ok, I'm pretty sure by now you understand the importance of sleep for building big muscles. But how much sleep do you actually need every night?
That depends on the individual, some people need more than others. But in general I would aim for at least 7-8 hours a night if you're training hard. But if you feel you need more, say 9-10 hours, then go right ahead.
With the right amount of sleep you should feel fresh everyday and ready to hit the gym at 100% intensity. Only then can you maximize your gains and build bigger muscles.
But in saying that also keep in mind that it's normal to feel tired in the days following an intense workout, especially after leg day!