When you think of building muscle, you may conjure up images of the gym where hard-core body builders spend countless hours pumping iron to bulk up. You may also think of protein shakes and a healthy diet to stimulate muscle growth and recovery. Very few people, however, think about sleep and the important role it plays in muscle growth.

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Sleep and Muscle Growth

When people spend hours working out in the gym, they are likely to end up with a lot of microscopic tears on their muscle fibers. The tears must undergo a repair process for the muscle to strengthen and for muscle tissues to grow bigger. The key factors for muscle repair are nutrition and sleep.

The body enters into an anabolic state during sleep. This is the period when body tissues, especially muscle tissues that experienced tearing during workouts, repair and rejuvenate themselves. During sleep, larger molecules are formed which then serve to repair the different body parts, including the muscular, nervous, and immune systems.

Sleep enables the body to complete the needed repair and recovery cycles in order for the muscle to grow. During sleep, the body produces larger amounts of growth hormone, testosterone, and melatonin, which play a significant role in the regeneration and reproduction of cells. Without enough sleep, the body simply cannot perform the necessary muscle repairs that allow for ongoing muscle growth.

Protein Metabolism

Protein metabolism refers to the different biochemical processes that synthesize proteins and amino acids and break down large protein molecules. Protein metabolism is conducted at a faster rate during sleep than during periods of wakefulness. Ever notice that you crash into bed after a strenuous workout? That is because the body needs sleep for the necessary muscle repair and recovery. Sleeping for 8 to 10 hours after a strenuous workout is a good goal to shoot for.

In order for the body to build muscles, it must synthesize proteins a lot faster than it breaks them down. The process of synthesizing proteins for muscle restoration starts right after the body absorbs nutrients. You can give your body a nice, long period to synthesize those proteins between dinner and breakfast the next morning. When you wake up the next morning, your body will have absorbed proteins from the last meal and accelerated muscle growth and repair. Work hard. Sleep hard. Your muscles will thank you.