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Sleep to Grow

Most bodybuilders know how important it is to get a good night’s sleep. It helps you regenerate in so many ways, from growth hormone release to energy recharging. The problem is, so many people have sleep disorders, and a lot of them don’t even know it.

According to “Refuel: Bring Sleep Into Your Night” by Ashley Koff, R.D., and Kathy Kaehler, which appeared in the November/December ’11 Well Being Journal, “Sleep deprivation is epidemic. And let’s face it: When we’re sleep deprived and moody, and things don’t go our way, we can begin to go down that dreaded path that ends in depressive thoughts or even full-blown depression.”

Your entire body will feel the repercussions of not getting enough sleep primarily due to a malfunction of your endocrine system—hormones go haywire, which is not good for bodybuilding, as testosterone and growth hormone plummet. Here is how the authors describe restful sleep:

“As soon as you enter deep sleep, about 20 to 30 minutes after you first close your eyes, your pituitary gland releases high levels of growth hormone—the most it’s going to secrete in 24 hours. Growth hormone does more than just stimulate growth and cell reproduction; it also refreshes cells, restores skin’s elasticity and enhances the movement of amino acids through cell membranes.... Without adequate sleep, GH stays locked up in the pituitary, which negatively affects your proportion of fat to muscle.”

You get more pulses of GH through the night, so if you aren’t sleeping soundly, your cortisol never drops as low as it should, and that undermines muscle growth and fat loss.

Here are a few sleep tips from Koff and Kaehler:

1) Get on schedule: Go to bed and wake up at the same time seven days a week.

2) Cut the caffeine: Eight hours before bedtime should be the cutoff point.

3) Limit alcohol intake: Don’t drink too late, or it will disrupt sleep patterns.

4) Try deep breathing: Breathe deeply and slowly as you lie on your back with your eyes closed.

5) Get up if you can’t sleep: If you don’t knock out within 20 minutes, go to a different, comfortable place with dim lights and read or do deep breathing exercises. After about 20 minutes try hitting the hay again.


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