Sleep plays an important role in any fitness program. So in order to gain muscle mass, you must follow this advice to improve sleep quality.
No matter how far you are in your fitness journey, getting enough quality sleep will always play a critical role in packing on more muscle.
After all, what we do outside of the gym can be just as important as what we do inside of it.
Along with good nutrition, restorative sleep is an essential part of muscle recovery as it is the time when muscle growth occurs.
While some people focus exclusively on supplements and workout routines, others acknowledge the importance of sleep and make it a priority by forming good sleeping habits.
In this article, we will go over what constitutes good sleeping habits and how they can aid in your fitness journey.
The Five Stages Of Sleep
Before addressing how to improve sleep quality and habits, let’s take a moment to detail the five stages of sleep and how they can impact our overall health.
The first stage of sleep is generally characterized by nodding off and is usually accompanied by muscle relaxation and decreased brain activity.
For most people, this will occur while in bed drifting off to sleep, watching television, or reading a book.
Essentially, the body is alerting you of the fact that you’re tired and need to sleep.
During the first stage of sleep, you can easily be awakened and recall the moments leading up to you drifting off.
Similar to stage 1, the second stage of sleep is generally characterized by decreased brain activity and muscle relaxation, usually within the first 30 minutes of falling asleep.
Also like stage 1, you can easily be awakened and can also recall the moments leading up to falling asleep.
Stage 3 And Stage 4
Stage 3 and Stage 4 of sleep closely mirror one another in that they both decrease brain activity and promote muscle relaxation within 45 minutes of nodding off.
Unlike stages 1 and 2, however, it can be slightly harder to awaken during these sleep stages. When waking up from either stage, it is common to feel groggy and/or disoriented.
REM (rapid eye movement) is the deepest sleep stage that you can enter. It is characterized by increased brain activity and decreased muscle activity.
It is also worth noting that this is the time when you most likely to experience dreams.
How To Improve Sleep Quality
Having detailed the five stages of sleep, this would be a good time to go over how quality sleep, also known as anabolic sleep, can lead to gaining muscle.
Anabolic sleep generally occurs once we enter the REM stage. During this time, you benefit from not only recovery but also muscle growth and performance. This combination can lead to even more productive gym sessions.
1. Get A Good Mattress
It is also a good idea to invest in a quality mattress that’s firm but also supportive like those offer by Ecosa, for example. A good mattress will not only support your weight but also helps in distributing it evenly, which can significantly improve sleep quality.
2. Create A Bedtime Routine
Having a sleep routine in place can go a long way towards ensuring you get a solid night’s sleep.
One of the best ways to achieve this goal is to establish a consistent bedtime as it will allow you to fall asleep easier, meaning you spend less time tossing and turning.
Studies have also shown that a cool and quiet environment can contribute to a great night’s sleep as well.
3. Things To Avoid
While setting a bedtime and choosing an environment that is conducive to getting a good night’s sleep is helpful, it is also a good idea to avoid the following before bed:
- Drinking caffeine;
- Eating large meals;
- Drinking too many liquids;
- Exercising right before going to sleep.
4. Get Supplements
For those who have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep, taking all-natural supplements may be worth considering.
Some of the more popular supplements include:
Easily one of the most popular sleep supplements, melatonin contains properties that can you get to sleep and stay asleep.
It is often recommended following surgery and is a great way to combat insomnia.
When it comes to bodybuilding, it is important to take multivitamins. That said, ZMA is a blend of vitamin B-6, magnesium, and zinc that is commonly used as a sleep aid.
However, it is also used to help stimulate muscle growth, making it an all-around great supplement for bodybuilders.
If you’re not familiar with GABA, it is an all-natural neurotransmitter that guides you to sleep by binding to receptors in the brain.
It is also worth noting that it has been shown to help alleviate feelings of anxiety.
Regardless of how much effort we put towards building the perfect physique, sleep and good nutrition is always a critical part of the recovery process.
That said, you’re encouraged to follow some of the recommendations outlined in this article to improve sleep quality and maximize your anabolic potential.