Hormones That Help Us

As we engage in a fitness or training routine, we need to understand how truly important sleep is because of how it affects hormonal release that occurs during sleep. We release growth hormones at their highest concentrations during the period when you’re in slow wave sleep during the night. Since growth hormones play a big part in the increase of lean muscle mass, it is very important that you maximize the availability of this hormone to your body by getting enough good quality sleep for better workout results.  Lack of sleep can also suppress thyroid activity, which can affect the main regulator of your Basal Metabolic Rate, or BMR (how many calories you burn on a daily basis just to exist). If you’re trying to burn fat, it’s important that you maximize your metabolism by getting enough sleep for better results from your diet and workout routine.

Hormones Working Against Us

Cortisol is a hormone that directly opposes muscle building. Instead of encouraging repair and new tissue growth during the day, it encourages the breakdown of body tissue.  Normally, it’s present in the body at higher levels in the morning, and at its lowest at night. Although stress isn’t the only reason that cortisol is secreted into the bloodstream, it has been termed “the stress hormone” because it’s also secreted in higher levels during the body’s ‘fight or flight’ response to stress, and is responsible for several stress-related changes in the body.

In addition to NOT getting enough growth hormone, those who don’t get enough sleep also tend to show a higher resting cortisol level in their body. The result of this is that the higher level of cortisol keeps you from your optimum recovery state that you want to be in before your next workout. This is one major factor of why sleep is essential.   To keep cortisol levels healthy and under control, the body’s relaxation response should be activated with sleep being the ideal solution. You can also learn to relax your body with various stress management techniques, and you can make lifestyle changes in order to keep your body from reacting to stress in the first place, but good sleep must occur.

Sleep and Muscle Repair

Muscle repair occurs while you’re asleep, more proof of the need for sleep when you are working your backside off in your training routine. When you workout and overload your muscles, you create tiny micro-tears in the muscle tissue. When these micro-tears are repaired and strengthened, you gain strength.  A lack of sufficient sleep severely limits this process.  During the physically restorative phases of non-REM deep sleep, your blood pressure drops and your breathing becomes deeper and slower. Your brain is resting with very little activity, so the blood supply available to your muscles increases, delivering extra amounts of oxygen and nutrients which facilitate their healing and growth. Muscles and tissues are rejuvenated and new cells are regenerated during this phase of sleep.

Sleep and How It Affects Your Overall Health

While you’re asleep, your immune system is working overtime to repair your body of all the damage it’s received during the day, which includes everything from head to toe and inside to out.  If you don’t give yourself enough time to carry out these repairs, you might not get the muscle recovery you need. This will leave you weaker entering your next workout which will ultimately slow your progress and delay you reaching your fitness goals.

How Much Sleep Do I Need?

You are considered to be sleep deprived if you sleep four hours or less per night, while eight hours constitutes normal sleep. The National Sleep Foundations sleep guidelines recommend seven to nine hours for the average adult. One night of missed sleep will probably do little harm, but the cumulative effect of poor sleep will have a negative impact on your muscles.