Regenerate your muscle mass through sleep

We often mistakenly believe that the more we train, the better results we get. In fact, it's simpler than you think: the real secret to gaining muscle, strength, and effective recovery is sleep. Sleep can even become the most important part of training. 

What happens in our body when we sleep? 

We spend about one-third of our lives sleeping, during which the body and brain regenerate. Sleep is an essential mechanism for both our physical and psychological well-being. When we sleep, various physiological and biochemical processes restore the damage caused to the body, including bone renewal, toxin elimination, and muscle repair. 

The two main phases of sleep

There are two main phases of sleep, each contributing to the body's regeneration.

REM sleep, which accounts for 25% of total sleep time. Its duration is greater towards the end of the night. During this phase, brain activity is very intense, so intense that it could resemble a waking phase. REM sleep plays a role in memory consolidation, which means the durable fixation of our memories and what we learn during the day. It is also during this phase that our muscles are completely relaxed. 

Slow-wave sleep or deep sleep. This phase accounts for 40% of total sleep time. It is essential for muscle recovery and body regeneration. During this phase, blood pressure decreases, and breathing becomes slower but also deeper. It is also observed that brain activity significantly reduces so that muscles receive a greater blood flow. Our muscles will therefore receive a larger amount of oxygen and nutrients, facilitating their restoration and growth. 

What are the benefits of sleep on our body?

1. Better performance 

The notable benefits are healthy muscle growth and thus better performance. To become stronger, muscle fibers need to be microscopically torn to rebuild themselves stronger and thicker to withstand future stimuli subjected to the body (for example, training with progressively heavier weights). This process primarily occurs during sleep, so it cannot be carried out correctly without sufficient sleep.  

Studies have shown that physical and mental performance decreases after a night of less than 8 hours of sleep. By depriving yourself of sleep, muscles become inflamed and begin to break down their own protein molecules, providing building blocks (nitrogen and other protein constituents) to the rest of the body, which needs more proteins to function during sleep.

2. Better muscle recovery 

To prevent potential injuries, good muscle recovery is essential. When we sleep, our body repairs the various micro-tears that occur during training or throughout the day. During the slow-wave sleep phase, our body produces a growth hormone essential for the restoration of all tissues. New cells are generated, thus avoiding the accumulation of micro-tears that could lead to an injury. 

3. Eliminating toxins 

During the deep slow-wave sleep phase, our blood flow is increased. This high blood flow available to the muscles allows for the elimination of toxins present in the muscle tissues. When you get enough sleep, your body prevents lactic acid from accumulating in your muscles and forming knots or mini contractions. Without sufficient sleep, you could develop muscle tissue congestion and see the appearance of inflammations. 

4. Consolidating your memory. 

As you read above, REM sleep plays an essential role in our memory. Beyond the memorization of various daily learnings, this phase also plays a role in consolidating muscle memory. When you sleep, you consolidate new learnings, such as a new movement learned during your training or the perfection of a technical gesture. 

Final thoughts 

You have probably now understood that sleep is essential for practicing a sport. It is an essential element that you need to take care of to perform better. 

To continue on this path of sleep and sport, we recommend two articles:

The post Regenerate your muscle mass through sleep first appeared on Le journal de l'oreiller.

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