Total Nutrition Technology
Monday, June 1, 2015

By: Total Nutrition Technology

Ever feel like you're spending hours upon hours at the gym only to find yourself not making any progress? How about feeling like you're putting in the effort for a quality workout, but still only find yourself maintaining your current fitness? Often times we tend to forget that factors other than the workout itself come into play when working to improve strength and overall fitness. Two very important factors that are far too often overlooked include: SLEEP & STRESS.

We're all well aware that a good night of sleep leads to higher energy levels, improved mood, and greater motivation for our daily activities. But the effect of a good night of sleep on muscle gain has far greater benefits than one might believe.

So the question is, “What can we do following a workout to reap the most benefits?” Following a strength-training workout it often appears as though muscle mass increases. However, this increase is size is simply due to an increase in blood flow and an increase in the stretch of the muscle fibers. In reality, your muscles increase in strength and size following the workout, during the recovery phase. The recovery phase is the most important part of keeping fit and feeling your best, ultimately enabling yourself to come back even stronger for the next workout. Depending on the intensity of the exercise, full recovery can take up to 48 hours after an exercise session. The most important period of this recovery phase is sleep, which is when your body works to repair the microscopic muscle damage caused by the exercise. Recovery also eliminates the byproducts produced during exercise, and transports them back into the bloodstream. From the bloodstream the byproducts are transported to the kidneys, liver or lungs to be processed and/or excreted.

Believe it or not, sleep is just as important as the workout itself! Muscle growth is directly related to sleep, as it plays a major role in protein synthesis and the release of many essential hormones, giving you the energy needed for another day at the gym!

So how much sleep is necessary? Sleep deprivation, which varies from person to person, usually results from less than 6 hours of sleep per night. Less than six hours causes the majority of the body systems to struggle, ultimately leading to decreased muscle growth and a lack of proper muscle recovery. The goal is to aim for 8 HOURS OF SLEEP/NIGHT. The affected systems include: the endocrine system, immune system, and metabolism.

● The endocrine system is responsible for releasing muscle building hormones which significantly decrease from low levels of sleep. One important hormone in particular, growth hormone, is released at this time. This hormone positively impacts muscle growth, ultimately leading to a speedier recovery. However, the endocrine system is also responsible for releasing catabolic hormones, or the fat-storing hormones. Due to reduced levels of sleep, these hormones can significantly increase, resulting in the break down of muscle mass.

● A properly functioning immune system is vital in order to fight off infection and ensure good-quality workouts. It also plays a major role in the process of muscle recovery.

● Due to a lack of sleep, metabolism is greatly reduced. This ultimately leads to an increased level of fat storage and a decreased rate of muscle growth.

As most of our lives are quite hectic, it's often quite difficult to unwind in the evening and prepare ourselves for a good night's sleep. For many, eight hours of sleep might be quite unrealistic. However, by improving your quality of your sleep you can still gain the majority of the muscle-building benefits!

Some helpful tactics to try include:

● Avoid working out 3-4 hours from the time you'd like to fall asleep.

● Refrain from drinking caffeine late in the day. This is different for everyone, but try not to drink it after 5pm.

● -Try drinking chamomile tea 1-2 hours before bed- it may help you relax and prepare yourself for a restful sleep.

● Maintain a comfortable and hygienic sleep atmosphere.


Stay tuned for Part 2 of 'Simple Tricks To Help You: Sleep Better - Stress Less - Improve Your Fitness', which will come tomorrow.  We'll talk about STRESS and how this common state for many people today is affecting you more than you think.

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