Sleep And Muscle Mass – What Is The Connection?
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A lot happens when you are catching up on your sleep.
You know that high-quality proteins in your diet and an effective, regular exercise regime are the pillars of good muscle health. However, there is a third, underrated and less discussed pillar that is as crucial as the other two – non-REM sleep!
But before we get into how sleep can affect your muscle mass, let us first understand what REM and non-REM sleep cycles are.
REM v/s Non-REM sleep:
You alternate between two kinds of sleep cycles during your sleep – Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep and non-Rapid Eye Movement (non-REM) sleep. When you first fall asleep, you fall into the non-REM cycle, and after about an hour and a half, you enter a relatively short REM cycle.
Your eyes rapidly move in different directions in the REM cycle, but your brain receives no visual information through them. The sleep is light with your heart rate and breathing at an almost waking level. Vivid dreams are more likely to appear during REM sleep as your brain is active. That is not the case when it comes to non-REM sleep.
pressure falls, your heart slows down and you breathe more slowly and deeply. When your brain rests and the blood supply to the other parts of your body increases, carrying with it extra nutrients and oxygen is essential Non-REM sleep is also called the slow-wave, and it is the stage of deep sleep. In this cycle, your blood for muscle restoration and recovery.1
Now that we know what REM and non-REM sleep cycles are, let us understand how exactly non-REM sleep works towards sustaining and increasing your muscle mass.
Human Growth Hormone:
When you are in the deep sleep cycle, the pituitary gland in your brain secretes the muscle-building Human Growth Hormone or HGH. HGH stimulates muscle recovery, repair, and tissue growth. It is also responsible for utilizing the amino acids released by the protein you consume.2
If you do not clock in enough sleep every night, it can lead to a decline in the secretion of this hormone, causing an HGH deficiency. It can ultimately result in lost muscle mass and impaired muscle health. Prolonged lack of sleep can also increase the chances of you developing chronic pain.
Additionally, as you sleep, your muscles relax and are relieved of any pent-up tension or pain. Without adequate sleep quality, your body does not get enough time to perform these functions. Therefore getting 7-9 hours of quality sleep every night is crucial to prevent muscle loss and promote good muscle health.
Sleep and strength training:
Strength training exercises in your workout regime, such as weightlifting, causes micro-tears in your muscles. It is the regular repair of these worn-out muscles and tissues that increases your strength. This process is the most efficient when you sleep deeply and for sufficient hours.3
Not only does sleep play an important role in muscle health and recovery, it also helps maintain a healthy body weight, improve focus, and stay energised all day.
So many benefits, and yet, most of us struggle with prioritising sleep. Everything else takes precedence over getting enough sleep, whether a presentation for work or scrolling through social media.
Inculcating mindful bedtime self-care habits can go a long way to ensure that you get the much needed and well-deserved sleep every night. Turning off all mobile devices at least an hour before your bedtime, enjoying a cup of calming tea, and switching off all the lights in your bedroom before going to bed can all help you sleep better. It will give your body time to relax, your muscles to heal and repair, and you will wake up well-rested and energized for the day ahead.4
Supplement your protein intake:
An effective workout routine, complemented by sufficient rest and a healthy, balanced diet, contributes to good muscle health. However, a typical Indian diet does not meet the recommended daily intake of protein required for sustaining muscle mass and function, making supplementation a necessity, especially after the age of 30.
Did you know that adults over 30 years of age tend to lose about 3-8% of their muscle mass per decade? A high-protein nutritional beverage like Horlicks Protein Plus with its scientifically designed triple protein blend – fast-acting whey protein, intermediate-acting soy protein, and slow-acting casein support muscle maintenance & growth.
Available in vanilla and chocolate, Horlicks Protein Plus is designed to address optimum quality protein intake amongst modern-day adults.
When consumed with about 200 ml of milk every day, it can provide up to 16 grams of protein, making for almost 30% of the daily protein RDA recommended by the Indian Council of Medical Research. It helps trigger the muscle protein synthesis and supports muscle strength in the long run5.
Insufficient sleep not only means low energy and reduced concentration, but it can also mean poor muscle health. Health is a cumulative result of mindful practices and consistent efforts. Even after eating well, working out, supplementing protein intakes, you could see no results, and you may lose muscle mass if your sleep cycle isn't regulated.
Chalk out a bedtime routine and try to stick to a sleep schedule that works for you. Sleeping late and waking up later to make up for the lost sleep can interfere with the body's circadian rhythm. Going to bed and waking up at similar times every day can significantly impact your overall health and well-being.
So, keep that phone aside, resist the urge to binge-watch your favorite shows, and hit the bed for a blissful 7-9 hours of quality sleep. Your body will thank you later!
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