How Your Body Rebuilds Muscles During Sleep

This month I have a guest blogger, her name is Samantha Kent from SleepHelp.org  The title is How Your Body Rebuilds Muscles During Sleep.

Ever tried to go to sleep with a throbbing thigh or a swollen ankle? Muscle strains and sprains are painful, which can make it hard to fall asleep. However, sleeping seems to affect the speed at which your muscles recover. If you want to get back on your feet faster, your best solution may be to go back to bed for a few hours.

Many athletes can’t make time for sleep between a busy training schedule or other responsibilities. However, sleeping less than seven hours per night has been linked to multiple chronic diseases, such as diabetes and depression. In the short term, it can make you irritable and less happy about training. Also, sleep deprivation may impede your ability to recover from injuries.

Of course, if you increase your hours of sleep each night, the improvements in your athletic performance can be immediate and dramatic.

More Sleep, Improved Performance

The benefits of increasing the number of hours that you sleep may extend beyond healing your muscles faster. In one study, a basketball coach added a new requirement to the training regimen – sleep at least 10 hours each night. Well rested basketball players had faster reaction times and reported less fatigue, as expected. More surprising, their shot accuracy improved and those surveyed said that their physical and mental well-being was better after the sleep extension.

Why Sleep Is So Essential

Everyone knows that sleeping makes your muscles feel better after a while, though the feeling of lying in bed may be uncomfortable. However, scientists are now hypothesizing about the chemical processes that occur during sleep. One study suggests that certain chemicals, like growth factor 1, aren’t released as much when you’re sleep deprived. Since these components have a role in regenerating muscles, sleep loss may lead to muscle loss.

So, in addition to eating your protein (which has been demonstrated to help muscle recovery), make time for a few more hours of rest when you’re trying to recover from a hard workout or injury.

How to Rest Better

Aching muscles can keep you awake at night, but they need sleep to recover. You can overcome this situation by focusing on improving your sleep habits and comfort level in bed.

First, keep a consistent bedtime and wake-up time, even on weekends. Your body calibrates its internal clock using many mechanisms, but it likes consistency. If you go to bed at 9 p.m. each night, your body will learn to start releasing sleep hormones, like melatonin, at that time. Even if you’re in pain from a rough workout, the melatonin release will help ease you into slumber.

Second, make sure your bedroom is comfortable. People need different firmness mattresses depending on their body weight and preferred sleeping position. Check mattress reviews to see if your bed is a good fit for the way that you sleep. Another way to make your room more restful is to minimize distracting light and sounds. Blackout curtains and a white noise machine may help.

Lastly, don’t exercise right before bed. In the summer, it can be tempting to wait for the cooldown of the sunset before working out. However, the rush of hormones from exercise can make it difficult to fall asleep afterward. If you must do some activity in the evening, keep it light, like easy yoga or stretching.

These tips should help you get the sleep you need to recover from tough workouts and feel better soon.

Guest Blogger @ SleepHelp.org