One of the most crucial elements of building muscle is sleep. If you’re not getting enough quality sleep, you’ll have a tough time making gains.
‘Why is sleep so important for building muscle?’
Here are 3 reasons…
- Testosterone – Quality sleep helps your body produce more testosterone
- Growth hormone – Deep sleep is what elevates your growth hormone levels
- Muscle recovery – Your muscle don’t grow in the gym; they grow through the repair and recovery process while you’re sleeping
Basically, if you’re not getting enough quality sleep, you’ll produce less testosterone. John Fawkes also points in an article on johnfawkes.com how this leads to gaining more body fat and less muscle mass.
Likewise, your body releases growth hormone during deep, restful sleep. Without testosterone and growth hormone, your muscles will not be able to recover. Pretty simple, eh?
Now I’m going to show you 9 NEW ways to build muscle in your sleep by increasing the quality of your sleep that you may not be aware of!
1 – Early Morning Workouts
There’s a good reason why I’m sharing this tip with your first. In fact, if you just did this stopped reading, it’s going to improve your sleep.
I started training in the early mornings in my early days of lifting, and have done it ever since. When you wake up early to lift weights, your body is almost forced to go to bed early.
Early morning workouts are the absolute best natural sleep remedy. Especially if you train hard and heavy, which you should be. Your body just shuts down around 9:30 PM or so.
Here’s your new early morning workout routine for waking up early to workout:
- Set your alarm for 5:00 AM
- Set your gym clothes by your bed
- Go to bed no later than 9:30 PM
- Upon waking, drink a full glass of water
- Take any pre-workout drink or supplements
- You can optionally eat a small meal with fast-digesting protein and slow complex carbs
- Go to the gym and train!
It will take a week or so to get used to waking up so early to work out if you’re not used to this schedule. But stick it out because it’s so worth the many benefits you’ll get. Not to mention your gym probably won’t be as crowded in the early AM.
2 – Don’t Do Anything Stimulating An Hour Before Bed
The last thing you want to do before going to bed is be revved up to where you can’t sleep. So I’m going to give you some things to stay away from before you turn in.
Before bed, DO NOT…
- Work on anything intense
- Start a project
- Watch anything on TV that’s disturbing (aka stay away from the news!)
- Get into an argument with your other half, or anyone for that matter
- Eat sugary foods!
- Read anything that makes your brain work overtime
There’s probably more NOT TO DO’s you can add to the list, but you get the idea. You don’t want to start or do anything that’s going to have you pondering that while you’re trying to sleep.
You need to be in a restful state so that when your head hits the pillow, you’re out like a light.
3 – Do Yoga At Night
Though Yoga requires some effort, it does relax your body and mind. And it’s a healthy way wind down.
There’s a deep connection between Yoga and better sleep, as suggested on sleepfoundtion.org. Aside from improving core strength and flexibility, yoga also helps reduce stress. And stress is one of the main reasons people don’t sleep well.
Yoga also helps get rid of metabolic waste. This will play a huge role in helping your body lose fat and recover to build more muscle tissue.
Here’s a short beginner’s Yoga video you can watch. This routine is perfect o start with and do at night:
Also, it doesn’t have to be just Yoga. You could also practice something with low intensity like Tai Chi, or even stretching (I personally do a mix of Yoga and stretching each night).
4 – Drink Herbal Non-Caffeinated Sleepytime Tea
Another natural way to relax before bed is to have a cup of tea that helps you sleep. There are several herbal teas to choose from (just do a quick search on Google for ‘sleepytime tea ‘or ‘night time tea’).
Obviously these teas are non-caffeinated. So make sure you don’t mistakenly drink regular tea!
Here are some ingredients to look for in a night time tea that helps you sleep:
- Tilia flowers
- Blackberry leaves
- Orange blossoms
Start sipping on your tea about an hour before bed. And of course, follow all of the other tips in this post to ensure you’re in a calm and relaxed state.
5 – Take Zinc, Magnesium, and Vitamin B6 Before Bed
Remember that the core reason why you want better sleep is to boost testosterone. Why? Because testosterone is what builds muscle
Through deep sleep, you’re also naturally elevating your growth hormone with deep sleep. The results simply allow you to build more muscle.
There’s a special blend of vitamins and minerals that when combined, have a tremendous impact on boosting testosterone and growth hormone while you sleep. They are…
- Vitamin B6
What’s so special about zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B6? It plays a role is boosting your immune system, metabolism, and muscle growth. Webmd.com further explains how this works for building muscle and increasing testosterone.
The reason why the combination of zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B6 works so well at boosting testosterone is that it also promotes deep and restful sleep.
The ZMA, zinc magnesium, (and aspartate) and vitamin B6 formula were founded by Victor Conte, founder of SNAC (Scientific Nutrition for Advanced Conditioning).
***You can read more about supplements that boost testosterone in my post 7 Ingredients To Look For In Natural Testosterone Boosters.
6 – Make Sure Your Partner is Onboard with Your New Schedule
This can be crucial, especially if you’re in a relationship or married and are already used to staying up late together, watching TV or whatever. This can be a hard habit to break.
Make sure your ‘other half’ understands the benefits that you (and they) will get from you waking up early to workout.
You could also entice them to do get up early for the gym with you! But this would only work if both of you are disciplined. In other words, you don’t want one of you encouraging the other to sleep in and miss workouts.
Now, you may think this doesn’t apply to you if you’re single. But it does. Because it’s much harder to break the habit of staying up late when you’re with someone. It’s much easier if you already have this established schedule of early morning workouts going into the relationship.
7 – Keep Consistent Sleep Patterns
I’m going to guess that you workout about 4-5 times a week. So if you’re following the first tip (early morning workouts), you may think you just need to go to bed early those nights before.
Yes, you do, but here’s the problem…
You probably workout Monday through Friday and you may want to relax a little on the weekends. For example, you may want to stay up a little later on Friday and Saturday nights to hang out with friends or family.
I have a solution for you!
You do need to develop a consistent sleep pattern. But it doesn’t mean you can’t still have fun and relax a little on non-training days (or nights before your workouts).
In order to find balance, here’s my personal early morning workout and sleep schedule…
Sunday through Wednesday
- Bedtime: 9:30 PM
- Wake-up next morning: 5:00 AM
- Bedtime: 9:30 PM
- Wake-up: 6:00 AM
Friday and Saturday
- Bedtime: 10-11:00PM
- Wake-up: 7:00 AM
As you can see, I relax a bit on the weekends. However, you’ll also notice my bedtime and wake-up schedule isn’t extremely far off from the days I workout.
You’ll also notice that I give myself a little more sleep time Friday morning so that I can stay up a little later on Friday nights.
There’s no need to go extreme on this. The key to life and happiness is indeed balanced. And this schedule may work very well for you for building muscle, boosting testosterone, and keeping your social life.
8 – Eat a Small Meal Before Bed
The last thing you want before bed is a huge meal. Why?
Because your body is going to work overtime to break down those nutrients and foods, which could cause a disruption in sleep. Joy Bauer (joybauer.com) explains more why eating a huge meal before bed can cause discomfort, bloating, gas, or indigestion while you’re trying to sleep.
However, you can have a snack before bed. In fact, eating a healthy snack can not only help you sleep better but will also benefit in the muscle recovery process while you sleep.
Remember, part of sleeping is muscle recovery. While your muscles need sleep to rebuild muscle tissue, they also need nutrients.
Here’s a couple of good bedtime snacks that will keep you in an anabolic state:
- Eggs and oatmeal
- Casein protein powder
- Greek yogurt and nuts
- Cottage cheese
The foods you want to avoid before bed are:
- Heavy meals
- Foods high in sugar
- Starchy foods
9 – Don’t Get Drunk Before Bed
Many experts say a glass or two of wine in the evenings is good for your health. And that’s true. But you don’t want to get drunk before bed.
Here are 2 reasons why…
- Drunk sleep is NOT quality sleep
- Too much alcohol can actually lower your testosterone
Many think that getting drunk will help them sleep better. But passing out isn’t quality sleep. In fact, it’s far from it. And here’s why…
Drunk sleep doesn’t allow your body to get REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, according to an article on menshealth.com. The problem here is that REM sleep is when your hormones are kicking in. Without REM, you cannot raise your testosterone or growth hormone levels.
Another thing to consider is that drinking too much alcohol can actually lower your testosterone. How? The impact is on your reproductive system and that’s what is required to maintain your natural levels of testosterone.
The good news is the negative impacts of alcohol mainly apply to heavy drinkers and those who drink a lot consistently. The moral of the story here is simple: drink in moderation, and don’t get stupid drunk before bed!
**You can read more about how alcohol impacts your testosterone and ability to build muscle, both the good and bad, in my post 8 Rules of Alcohol.
How Much Sleep Do You Need To Gain Muscle?
This really depends on the person. There’s really no ‘blanket answer’ that works for everyone, and I’m going to give you some examples below.
But the question isn’t really how much sleep you need, it’s how much REM sleep you need to build muscle, and that may vary from person to person.
Here are 3 common answers in how much sleep is needed to recover, function and build muscle:
- 7-8 hours
- 8-10 hours
- 6 hours
7-8 Hours of Sleep
Getting 7-8 hours of sleep each night seems to be the most common. Actually, it’s been said by many experts that 8 hours of sleep is the magic number. If I were forced to give you 1 answer for the amount of sleep you need, it would be this one.
8-10 Hours of Sleep
Other experts recommend getting up to 10 hours of sleep in order to elevate testosterone and growth hormone levels (aka to build more muscle). According to an article on bodybuilding.com, many bodybuilders say they perform best with 8-10 hours of sleep.
Keep in mind these people train extremely hard in the gym and their lifestyle requires more (of most everything) than the average person.
6 Hours of Sleep
Arnold Schwarzenegger only slept 6 hours a night during his bodybuilding days. I’m referencing Arnold’s book ‘Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story.’
Arnold was able to function well with only 6 hours asleep. His reason for less sleep was that it gave him 2 extra hours (going by the norm of 8-hour sleep) to work towards his many successes.
Find What Sleep Cycle Works For You
At the end of the day (or night!), you have to find the sleep pattern that works best for you. You may be able to boost your testosterone and build muscle with 6 hours, or you may do better with 8-9 hours.
If you follow the 9 tips I gave, you should be able to find what works for you. Because you’ll be doing all of the right things to help you get into that deep sleep for building muscle.
Your Muscles Grow While You Sleep
Remember, the reason deep, quality sleep is crucial for muscle gains is to optimize:
- growth hormone
- muscle recovery
You can’t expect muscle growth without getting proper sleep. Not to mention you can’t expect to be healthy or have the energy or brain function you need without sleep.
So if you truly want to gain muscle and put your body in the most anabolic state possible, make sure you’re sleeping well, and that your sleep patterns are consistent.
I hope you enjoyed reading this, and encourage you to take these 9 ways to build muscle in your sleep to heart!
Let me know if this helps by commenting below, and please share this article.