Sleep affects many systems in the human body, and processes during sleep also logically affect muscle mass. Intensive training and the use of nutrients is not enough to get maximum results, the body needs to recover and gain strength. The best way to relax is to sleep, as it is beneficial for muscle growth and increased productivity.
Sleep and growth hormone
During sleep, energy consumption decreases, brain cells are renewed, the body produces growth hormone, and if you use protein before bedtime, then protein is also produced. The growth hormone is one of the important components that influence muscle growth and recovery. In the synthesis of protein, the body receives proteins, breaks them down into amino acids, and then uses them in tissues. However, you may not have known that the body needs growth hormone for this process. Since its reserves are replenished during sleep and with insufficient amounts, you sabotage the result of your workouts and the use of nutrients. Of course, growth hormone is also synthesized during training, but up to 75% it is synthesized during sleep. The main time during which RH is synthesized is the first part of phase 3 of the sleep cycle. During this period, the body sleeps deeply and muscles recover.
Sleep and Testosterone
The secretion of testosterone, in addition to growth hormone, also depends on the quality of sleep. Lack of sleep leads to lower testosterone levels. A 2015 study examined changes in testosterone levels in young men who slept less than their body required. Participants slept only 5 hours a day for 1 week. This reduction in sleep time led to the loss of 10-15% of testosterone in young men. As you can see, a short period of lack of sleep has a significant effect on hormonal balance. Testosterone is an important hormone that affects not only muscle growth but also fat burning. You should seriously think about lowering testosterone levels due to lack of sleep, as the level of testosterone in the body decreases with age. Aging is naturally associated with the loss of testosterone, its amount decreases by about 1-2% per year.
How to improve the quality of sleep?
Sleeping better and longer is the desire of many of us, but sometimes it is not easy. In the evening, we think about our problems and experience stress from the whole day. Perhaps you also evaluate your day and information received in the last minutes before bedtime. First, identify the factors that affect the quality of your sleep both positively and negatively:
- Caffeine. Drinking coffee in the morning does not affect night sleep, but drinking caffeine before bedtime can be a problem. Caffeine is a well-known stimulant that improves alertness, boosts alertness, and stimulates the nervous system. It remains in the blood for about 6-8 hours, so drinking coffee 6 hours before bedtime can affect its quality;
- Physical exercises. Training during the day can tire the body and help you fall asleep faster. Aerobic exercise, in particular, is proof of this fact, but late evening workouts can have the exact opposite effect;
- Alcohol seems to be a good solution to fall asleep, but it has the opposite effect. It affects the level of melatonin and growth hormone, causes snoring in a dream. Alcohol affects the phases of sleep, thereby disrupting it. Drinking a glass of wine in the evening is a good idea, but if you drank a lot more in the evening, don’t be surprised that you will most likely wake up several times a night;
- You are used to falling asleep with the TV. However, for some people watching a TV show helps to fall asleep, but it can also increase alertness. Watching TV in bed gives the brain an incentive to maintain attention, rather than getting ready for bed. Another problem may be the brightness of the screen, so it is advisable to turn off the TV and all bright light sources at least 2 hours before you go to bed.
Nutritional Supplements for Better Sleep
Various nutritional supplements can also calm the body and improve sleep. We are talking about natural supplements that are not addictive. Nevertheless, before you start using them, you must read the instructions and information on the packaging. Currently, there is a wide range of nutritional supplements to improve sleep:
- Herbal supplements – Lavender and ginkgo Biloba are the plants that support sleep, have a relaxing effect on the body, thereby improving the quality of sleep. Plants that improve sleep include valerian root, which helps to fall asleep and also improves sleep quality;
- Melatonin – the hormone melatonin is naturally found in the human body, and its role is to send a signal to the brain that it is time to sleep. Taking melatonin as a dietary supplement helps with changing time zones, sleeping problems, or difficulties associated with work and change. It improves the phases of REM and NREM, as well as the overall duration of sleep;
- CBD – cannabidiol is a natural substance with calming and stress-reducing effects. CBD is obtained from cannabis plants, so it does not have a psychotropic effect, which is associated with marijuana and with the content of THC;
- Amino acids – glycine, L-theanine, tryptophan, or GABA – are amino acids that can help fall asleep. Glycine improves sleep quality, and L-theanine helps to relax the body and sleep. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that can improve sleep quality and speed up sleep time. GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is naturally found in the brain, its role is to reduce the excitability of neurons, and it can also improve and prolong sleep.
- Minerals – magnesium, iron, and calcium are among the minerals that affect the relaxation of the body and improve the quality of sleep. Magnesium helps the body synthesize melatonin and also soothes muscle tissue. Iron is associated with the transfer of oxygen to the cells and tissues of the body, and iron deficiency is one of the main causes of restless legs syndrome. Incentives for this syndrome occur in the evening and at night and can interfere with people sleeping well. Minerals that affect sleep quality include calcium, as it helps the brain use tryptophan to produce melatonin.