Sleep - The Most Overlooked Aspect of Muscle Building


Elite athletes and bodybuilders swear by sleep for their impressive gains. NBA star Kevin Durant, for instance, gets at least eight hours of sleep per night. Professional runner Usain Bolt aims for eight to 10 hours of sleep per night. Tennis player Michelle Wie sleeps for at least 12 hours.

Does it really make sense to sleep that much? Can a few extra hours of rest boost your gains? According to health experts, the answer is yes. Sleep appears to be one of the most important yet overlooked aspects of sports performance.

How Important Is Sleep for Muscle Growth?
Have you noticed how great you feel after a good night's sleep? You have more energy, focus better at work, and feel stronger in the gym. On top of that, you lose fat more easily and have fewer cravings for unhealthy food.

No supplement or miracle pill can replace sleep. This factor has a direct impact on your muscle and strength gains. It also regulates your mood, revs up your metabolism, and boosts brainpower. Moreover, it plays a key role in protein synthesis and stimulates the production of anabolic hormones.

During sleep, your body recovers from daily stress and exercise-induced muscle damage. At the same time, it produces growth hormone (HGH) and builds new tissues. HGH levels begin to increase about 30 to 45 minutes after falling asleep. This hormone influences body composition and muscle recovery. As you age, its levels drop. Sleep deprivation only makes things worse.

Besides your diet and workout, sleep is the most important factor for hypertrophy. Yet, over 40 percent of Americans get less than seven hours of sleep per night. This puts them at risk for memory problems, cognitive impairment, heart disease, type II diabetes, and high blood pressure. Furthermore, sleep deprivation leads to hormonal disorders.

Research shows that lack of sleep causes testosterone and Insulin-like Growth Factor 1 levels to drop. At the same time, it increases the stress hormone levels, which leads to poor recovery, abdominal obesity, and muscle loss. Cortisol also triggers hunger and sugar cravings, which may result in overeating and weight gain.

Things are even worse for athletes. If you work out regularly, sleep deprivation can affect muscle growth and repair. You'll have a hard time building mass and recovering from training, which may cause frustration, plateaus, and injury. On top of that, you'll get tired quicker and have trouble staying focused in the gym.
Aching muscles, depression, blurred vision, daytime drowsiness, slowed reaction time, and mood swings are common side effects of sleep deprivation. The less you sleep, the harder you'll find to build mass and stay lean. If muscle building is a priority, get at least eight hours of sleep per night.

How to Get a Better Night's Sleep
Now you might wonder how to catch more Zzz's. After all, who has the time to sleep in today's hectic world? You barely make it to the gym! Well, unless you get enough sleep, your efforts will be in vain. Proper rest should come first on your list.

Start by creating a bedtime routine. Go to sleep at the same hour every day. Do whatever it takes to relax, whether it's soaking in a warm bath or reading a good book.

Just make sure you avoid electronics, such as the TV or smartphone. These devices emit light that works against quality shuteye by affecting melatonin production.

Refrain from working out three to four hours before bedtime. Exercise boosts your energy and stimulates the nervous system, which can affect your sleep. Steer clear of caffeine, black tea, alcohol, and tyrosine-rich foods at night. Drink a cup of valerian tea and eat a high-protein meal to catch more Zzz's.


  • Sleep plays a crucial role in hypertrophy, muscle repair, and sports performance. 
  • During sleep, your body produces hormones that support anabolism. 
  • Sleep deprivation affects your muscle and strength gains, raises cortisol levels, and promotes fat storage. It also increases your risk of injury. 
  • Get at least eight hours of sleep per night to boost your performance in the gym.