Are muscle gains made during the night?
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Sleeping for 7-9 hours per night is crucial, especially if you want to change body composition, increase muscle mass and/or if you want to be ready for your personal training session the next day.
Sleep enhances muscle recovery through protein synthesis and human growth hormone release.
According to the sleep scientist Dr Greg Potter who holds a doctorate degree in sleep science there are several techniques we can use to improve the quality of our sleep.
This is the same sort of advice that the study participants used to increase their muscle growth by 30% while simultaneously losing fat.
These sleep-optimisation techniques are called sleep hygiene and the idea is that the more of these things we do the more likely we are to get a good night’s rest.
Now we don’t necessarily need to do every single thing on this list and some of these techniques are more important than others but before we dig into the nuance let’s quickly go through the full list from Oliver William, a fitness coach:
Get to bed early enough:
Make sure that you get to bed early enough that you can get up to eight hours of sleep before needing to wake up.
Even better if you wake up before your alarm clock goes off.
Reduce chronic stress:
Reduce your overall stress and anxiety levels especially near your bedtime and especially near your bedroom.
If you have a lot weighing on your mind, make a to-do list in the evening so that you won’t need to think about it at night.
Save the hour or two before bed for relaxing activities that have nothing to do with work, social media or phones.
Save your bedroom for relaxing activities like sleep sex and reading novels.
Get enough sun:
Spend some time outside in the sun during the day and ideally for half an hour or more.
Going outside first thing in the morning works well as does going outside around lunchtime.
This will help you fall and stay asleep more easily at night because of increased melatonin production.
No alcohol late at night:
Avoid drinking booze within four hours before your bedtime.
Having a drink or two per day seems to be fine for general health but you’ll want to keep those drinks well away from your bedtime given that alcohol can interfere with the quality of your sleep.
Keep your caffeine to the morning:
Avoid consuming caffeine within nine hours of your bedtime.
There’s nothing unhealthy about having some daily coffee or tea, we just need to make sure that it isn’t interfering with your sleep.
You may also want to limit your caffeine consumption to a milligram per pound body weight per day.
Eat a bigger breakfast:
It’s often best if your final meal is proportionally small compared to your other meals.
I ignore this one while bulking.
It makes it too hard to get my calories in.
I prefer to have a big meal right before bed.
But it’s technically better to stack more of your calories into your earlier meals.
Dim the lights at night:
Dim the lights a couple of hours before going to bed and ideally switch to warm amber-coloured tones.
If you use screens before bed such as using a phone computer or watching TV then consider installing an app that changes the screen colour or getting blue-light blocking glasses.
Looking at screens before bed can reduce sleep quality study.
If we avoid them, dim them and use warmer tones for an hour or two before bed we’ll produce more melatonin.
If you want to grow or lean out, sleep plays an important role.