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Sleep to Get Gainz

When was the time in your life when your sleep was the worst? I know for sure mine was when my younger child was an infant. He was the worst sleeper as a baby, and it was an awful time for everyone. I felt anxious and irritable nearly all the time, we struggled with a ton of illness as a family, and basic tasks felt overwhelming. I was not mentally sharp, because I was exhausted all the time. I often felt like I was going to fall asleep driving. My heart goes out to any parent with a baby who just doesn’t want to stay asleep. Most of us know how important sleep is for our health and all the things I mentioned: mental acuity, immune response, mood, concentration. Did you know sleep is important for another reason… muscle building?

Relationship Between Sleep and Muscle

Sleep and exercise have an incredible relationship to each other. Research shows that exercise can help improve sleep quality, leading to improvements in things ranging from memory to hormonal activity to immune function. Likewise, sleep quality is associated with improved strength. Thus, sleep and strength seem to have a positive circular relationship, where improvements in either lead to improvements in the other.

Why Sleep Helps

Sleep allows time for your muscles to repair. Hormonal processes that occur during sleep help to repair tissues that are damaged during exercise. Note: it is normal for tissues to be damaged during exercise, and that is part of what helps them to get stronger. That only works if the tissues have time to get repaired, and sleep is a key part of that repair process.

Tips for Good Rest

So if sleep is so important, how do you improve your sleep? First, I’d suggest not having any babies in your house. Okay, obviously kidding, but I do think it is important to consider any sleep tips within the context of your own life and limitations. If you have sleep disorders, kids or pets who keep you up, a work schedule that impedes quality sleep, these are all things you probably need to work around. That being said, there are probably some steps you can take to improve your sleep to the best of your ability.

Reducing screen time before bed has huge benefits for your overall sleep, and getting electronics out of the bedroom can help improve your sleep. Aim to have a relatively consistent bedtime and wake up time. Use of the “10 3 2 1 0” rule can help.

  • Eliminate caffeine 10 hours before sleep
  • Cut alcohol 3 hours before bed
  • Stop working 2 hours before bed 
  • Stop screen time 1 hour before bed 
  • Hit ‘snooze’ 0 times in the morning.

Sleep is so important to your overall health, and to your gym gains! Implementing just one new positive habit can help to contribute better sleep that has significant downstream benefits.


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