The field of bodybuilding demands constant attention and is constantly evolving. Because of this, we are always putting our focus in the wrong areas.
Often times, we look at the new products on the market like protein powder, multivitamins, or supplements- when we need to be focusing on the basics!
Sleep is the foundation of bodybuilding! Without sleep, you will not grow any muscle period.
So, how many hours of sleep do bodybuilders need? Well, honestly, as much as you realistically can. 8 hours of sleep is ideal for the bodybuilder, and even up to 10 hours is good. But, you should never be getting less than 6 hours of sleep a night, your muscle growth will slow dramatically. Always listen to your body- if you’re really tired, sleep!
First and foremost, it is important to understand the benefits of sleep. If you know why it is important for you and how it impacts your performance, you are more likely to keep at it.
Here we take a look at the benefits of sleep in a bodybuilding context- and why you need to be sleeping more!
Table of Contents hide
1Sleep Rests and Recharges The Brain
2Tissue Repair During Sleep
3How Lack of Sleep Affects Muscle Growth
4The Human Growth Hormone
5How Much Sleep Do Bodybuilders Need?
6Do Naps Play An Important Role?
7Rich Piana Always Said To Sleep and Eat As MUCH As Possible
8Improving Sleep Quality For Faster Muscle Growth
8.1Consistent Sleeping Schedule
8.2Consider Buying A New Mattress
8.4Form a Sleep Routine
Sleep Rests and Recharges The Brain
Sleep is the number one factor that affects your overall mental health. Sleep is responsible for the proper functioning of various mental processes.
Our thought processes are directly influenced by a lack of sleep. Inadequate amounts of sleep impairs the memory and leads to forgetfulness. Short-term memory seems to be the most deeply affected area.
Lack of sleep also makes it harder for our brain to learn new things. Depressed moods and lack of awareness are also commonly seen. One of the biggest dangers of inadequate sleep is slowed-down reaction times.
Studies have shown that brain activity is reduced during sleep. This suggests that the brain actively recovers its mental energies during sleep. Adenosine is an important chemical in the body that serves as a signaling agent for neurons.
- Read: Should I Go To The Gym Without Sleep?
Decreased levels of adenosine suggest that the brain is taking rest as we sleep. From a bodybuilding perspective, good mental health is of paramount importance.
Tissue Repair During Sleep
Sleep brings about the needed physiological changes to help the body heal and repair the tissues. This is incredibly important for bodybuilders. As you work out, the muscles and tissues undergo microdamage. These are like small damages that take place in the muscle fibers.
During the sleeping process, the immune system makes use of resources in the body and starts repairing the micro damages. Protein synthesis is an important biochemical process in the body by which the body produces much-needed proteins.
The microdamage repair and the protein synthesis together make sleep a quintessential state for tissue repair and muscle buildup in the body.
How Lack of Sleep Affects Muscle Growth
We’ve looked at the direct benefits that sleep has on bodybuilding. Next, we will look at how sleep affects muscle growth. There are two major ways in which sleep impacts muscle growth in our bodies.
Our muscles need energy to do work. When glucose reacts with oxygen, energy is produced. We obtain this glucose from the food that we eat.
However, the body does not store the glucose as it is in the body. Instead, it is stored in the form of glycogen. Our liver plays a major role in glucose storage. A part of this glycogen is also stored in the muscles.
Muscle glycogen is the body’s first and major resource for energy. The glycogen is converted back into glucose and broken down to release energy.
The main point to note here is that muscle glycogen is highest during – you guessed it – our sleep. This means that sleep is the best time for our muscles to generate energy. This energy can then be used for muscle growth.
The Human Growth Hormone
The human growth hormone medically abbreviated as HGH is the main developmental hormone in humans. It is responsible for all kinds of growth in the body including but not limited to – cell reproduction, cell regeneration, and tissue repair.
It is also noteworthy that in a healthy body, levels of human growth hormone are the highest during sleep.
This tells us that it is during sleep that the body utilizes most of the secreted growth hormone and uses it for cell and tissue build-up.
This leads us to conclude that not getting enough sleep is not only responsible for low levels of growth hormone on a daily basis, but also low levels of growth hormone production in the body as a whole.
How Much Sleep Do Bodybuilders Need?
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine is a professional body that is dedicated to sleep medicine. In fact, it is the only professional society in the United States to be solely dedicated to sleep medicine and circadian rhythms.
According to the AASM, healthy individuals should aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. This of course varies individually. If you are looking for a specific number, 8 hours of sleep each night is a good goal to try and reach.
It gives ample time for the body to fully rest physically and mentally and enough time for the physiological and biological processes to take place. If you are looking for guiding rules, keep the following in mind:
- The more physically active you are the more sleep you need. This means that for active bodybuilders, they should be going for the higher end of 9 hours or even higher per night of sleep.
- As we’ve discussed before, muscle growth is accelerated and is much faster during sleep. Therefore try and get as much sleep as possible.
Do Naps Play An Important Role?
Naps, whether during the day or the evening time, provide a huge boost to mental health and the biochemical processes in the body. In many cases, especially if you work and bodybuild alongside, the extra stress makes it impossible to stay without naps.
Naps are not bad. They provide a good boost to the physiological processes in the body. When it comes to naps we should keep the following two points in mind:
- Naps, although beneficial,should not be treated as a substitute to night’s sleep. A proper night’s sleep can not be replaced by daytime naps here and there.
- Naps, if overdone, can disturb your sleep schedule. People often sleep late because they took a nap in the evening. Avoid taking naps in the evening time and try to keep the daytime naps to a minimum.
Rich Piana Always Said To Sleep and Eat As MUCH As Possible
Rich Piana, one of the world’s most famous bodybuilders ALWAYS told his fans to eat and sleep as much as possible!
The more sleep and food you eat, the more muscle you will put on.
- Read: The Secret to Getting HUGE, Dirty Bulking.
Here’s the sad thing: If you end up NOT eating or sleeping enough, you will actually end up NOT growing any muscle. Here’s the thing, if your body does not have enough food or sleep to build that muscle, it just won’t. Our bodies don’t ‘half build it’- it just refuses to build it.
It’s why people (like me) who went to the gym for 4 months straight and literally LOST muscle. When our bodies don’t have the resources, it just doesn’t build a THING.
But, the more time you spend sleeping, the more muscle growth you’ll get. If you don’t get enough sleep, you may lose ALL the potential muscle growth.
That’s why Rich Piana always told his fans that 8 hours of sleep just wasn’t enough, and that if they could sleep 10 hours, they needed to.
It’s my favorite Rich Piana quote! “The more you eat, the more you sleep, the more you put into anything- the more you will get out of anything”. He’s saying that when you finally own up and start eating more, sleeping more, etc- YOU START SEEING MORE RESULTS, PERIOD.
Improving Sleep Quality For Faster Muscle Growth
Having a nightly sleep goal is beneficial. You can decide to sleep x hours (we recommend at least 8) each night and try to reach the goal with determination.
Eventually, the body will adjust to your new habits and will start demanding the same amount of sleep each night. Let us discuss some ways of improving sleep quality for faster muscle growth.
- Read: 20 Bodybuilding Tips for Beginners (That I Wish Someone Told Me!)
Consistent Sleeping Schedule
This is the first and most important change to make if you do not already follow a set schedule for sleeping and waking up. Our bodies are more discipline-loving than our minds.
The body demands sleep at regular intervals. If you keep changing the sleeping times often, the body is never able to settle down at a regular interval and this causes all sorts of stress both physically, chemically, and neurologically.
Many people sleep late thinking they will still achieve their sleep target and wake up late. This in fact makes the situation worse as your body has to constantly keep adjusting its inner body clock. That’s right. The body has an inner ‘clock’ built in known as the circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm works the best when it gets the following two things:
- Regular sleep and wake up timings
- Sleeping during the night and waking up in the morning
Consider Buying A New Mattress
In many cases, a faulty mattress is a culprit. Getting a new mattress might be the easiest way you can try and improve your sleep quality. There are many varieties of mattresses available in the market.
Personally, my sleep life changed when I went from a normal mattress to a memory foam mattress. I got one of those ‘cheaper’ models on Amazon that comes in a box and expands on opening and it was a game-changer. I never have had such good sleep in my life!
Each with their own pros and cons. Go for one that works best for your body shape and type. Avoid getting a new mattress if your existing mattress is already comfortable enough.
This is not as bad as it sounds. You do not have to completely boycott caffeine from your day.
However, caffeine does not go well with sleep.
It is much better to substitute caffeinated intake with other items. The best approach is to shun all caffeine about six hours before bed. This gives your body enough time to get rid of any caffeine that is already in your system.
Form a Sleep Routine
If you are just starting out on your sleeping journey or have been facing issues with falling asleep or staying disciplined about your sleep, forming a sleep routine is a great way to establish it.
A sleep routine is composed of various cues from the environment that lead your brain to think that it’s time for bed. We have the following tips in this regard:
- Use the bedroom exclusively for sleeping. This means no TV or food on the bed. This helps your brain associate bed with one sole activity – sleeping.
- Avoid using any electronic items or gadgets, especially avoid facing screens at least half an hour before bed. Blue light filters are also a good option if you are forced to check your phone around bedtime for some reason.
- Have a light activity to do while on the bed. Reading a few pages from a book is the most common such activity.
In today’s busy and fast world, it is easy to forget the importance of sleep. The condition has worsened so much in the last decade that doctors have had to prescribe sleep to their patients!
No wonder we are going through a sleep deprivation pandemic worldwide. A night of proper sleep is extremely important for bodybuilders.
The extra physical work and muscle growth requires that the body take proper rest. Remember that sleeping less, equals gaining less.
Famous bodybuilders like Rich Piana advocated for bodybuilders to sleep nearly 10 hours a day! The literal Academy of Sleep Medicine advocates for you to sleep 8 hours a day minimum! It’s no secret guys, all of us need to be sleeping more to see that muscle growth.
And honestly, it’s not even just that muscle growth- it’s our mental and physical health.
Remember, if you don’t sleep enough, you’ll lose a ton of muscle growth. It’s the law of minimums for the body, so don’t waste your time spinning wheels in the gym, get some well-deserved sleep.
There's no point in doing hardcore workouts if you're consistently getting less than 6-hours of sleep per night. 8-hours is ideal, while 9-10 hours is even better. Remember, you can use mid-day naps to boost your overall sleeping time and that may actually be more beneficial than getting all of your sleep overnight.How much do professional bodybuilders sleep? ›
How much sleep do bodybuilders get? Bodybuilders and athletes in general usually prioritize their sleep in order to get 7–9h daily. It highly depends on the person, but 7–9h of daily sleep have been proved to optimize muscle building.Is 6 and a half hours of sleep enough for bodybuilding? ›
Is 6 hours of sleep enough to build muscle? No way. You should try to get between 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night in order to maximize muscle growth and support your health.How many hours of sleep did Arnold Schwarzenegger get? ›
Arnold Schwarzenegger's “sleep faster” strategy
The former Mr Olympia sleeps just six hours a night so that he has at least 18 hours of productive time during the day. The seven-time bodybuilding champion reportedly spent as much time in the gym as he did in bed during his early career.
Sleep Deprivation and Muscle Recovery
Your body will produce less protein than it otherwise would. That's why you need to sleep for at least 7 hours a night if you want your muscles to grow properly and quickly.
Sleeping for 7-9 hours per night is crucial, especially if you are looking to change body composition, increase muscle mass and/or if you want to be ready for your personal training session the next day. Sleep enhances muscle recovery through protein synthesis and human growth hormone release.How many hours does Jay Cutler sleep? ›
I'm training four times a day, and I sleep 6 to 8 hours. So, if you calculate time of the day together, there's really not much else going on in my life.”Will my muscles grow if I don't sleep? ›
Shrinking Sleep Time = Shrinking Muscles
It's not only that getting enough sleep helps muscles grow. Without adequate sleep muscle mass decreases. A study in 2011 examined how sleep deprivation affected muscle gains and recovery. 1 The study followed individuals who were on a strict sleep schedule for 72 hours.
While some people regularly function on short periods of sleep, research mostly agrees that six hours of sleep is not enough for most adults. Experts recommend that most adults need at least seven hours of sleep every night.Can you fully function on 6 hours of sleep? ›
Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, discovered that some people have a gene that enables them to function well on six hours of sleep a night. This gene, however, is very rare, appearing in less than 3% of the population. For the other 97% of us, six hours doesn't come close to cutting it.
It's common knowledge that sleep is good for your brain – and Einstein took this advice more seriously than most. He reportedly slept for at least 10 hours per day – nearly one and a half times as much as the average American today (6.8 hours).How many hours did Winston Churchill sleep? ›
Similarly to Margaret Thatcher and especially during the war years, Winston Churchill would only sleep for four to five hours a night. However, in contrast to Thatcher, he would catch up on sleep in the afternoons with a 90 minute nap.Do high achievers sleep less? ›
Generally, high achievers tend to sleep less, Brager tells CNET. "If you look at US presidents, successful CEOs and military leaders, many report sleeping little but feeling fine and don't need stimulants to stay awake," she says. "Daily sleep needs fall along the bell curve like most physiological processes in nature.Is 10 hours of sleep too much for muscle growth? ›
Sleeping for 8-10 hours per night is similar to fasting and this is catabolic to muscle growth. However, eating just prior to sleeping, can help to reverse this process and increase protein synthesis.Do naps help muscle growth? ›
Taking a nap after exercise can support muscle recovery. When you sleep, your pituitary gland releases growth hormone. Your muscles need this hormone to repair and build tissue. This is essential for muscle growth, athletic performance, and reaping the benefits of physical activity.Do muscles grow when you sleep? ›
When we sleep, our body builds them back up even stronger. This is because as you sleep, the pituitary gland releases a growth hormone that rebuilds and repairs muscle cells.Can I split my 7 hours of sleep? ›
Some people divide their sleep into a schedule of naps around the clock, sometimes called polyphasic sleeping. It's often designed to let you get by on less total rest. That's a bad idea, Kushida says, since adults need at least 7 hours of sleep in 24 hours. There can be major consequences if you cut back, he says.How many hours of sleep does Bill Gates sleep? ›
Now, the billionaire Microsoft co-founder gets at least seven hours of shut-eye, and wrote that all people need that much, “even if you've convinced yourself otherwise.”
But while the average of 7.5 hours a night that New Zealanders enjoy each night is higher than anywhere else, even that might not be enough. The American National Sleep Foundation, recommends that adults get between seven and nine hours a night.Can athletes sleep 7 hours? ›
Aim for Seven to Nine Hours
How much sleep do athletes need? Pro athletes typically need more than most—it's recommended that they get 8-10 hours every night. But for the average adult, aim for seven to nine hours of sleep a night to avoid the effects of chronic sleep deprivation.
- Doing too much cardio.
- Overtraining, not enough rest.
- Using too much weight and bad form.
- Not eating right or enough.
- Lack of accountability and poor planning.
The most important sleep stage is Stage 3, Non-REM or, Delta (Slow Wave) Sleep, it takes up 25% of our total sleep cycle, and it's known as the 'deepest' period of sleep. It's in Stage 3 that sleep is at its most restorative, helping our bodies heal themselves and our minds rest.How many hours does Elon Musk sleep? ›
Elon Musk says he is "fairly nocturnal" and only sleeps about six hours a day. The world's richest man made the comments during an August 5 episode of The Full Send podcast. He said he usually goes to sleep at about 3 a.m. and wakes up after about six hours at 9 a.m. or 9:30 a.m.Why do I wake up tired after 8 hours of sleep? ›
Most likely, you're still tired after eight hours of sleep because of these three factors: (1) you don't know your sleep need, (2) you're not taking into account your sleep efficiency, and (3) you carry sleep debt.Why do I feel better on 6 hours of sleep? ›
So why do people think they are able to function optimally on 6 hours of regular sleep? This is because of a natural human phenomenon known as 'renorming'. Renorming means that we are only able to compare how we feel today to how we felt yesterday or the day before.Why do I feel more energized with less sleep? ›
This is because our brain is constantly forming new connections while we are awake. The longer we are awake, the more active our minds become. Scientists believe that this is partly why sleep deprivation has been shown to reduce symptoms of depression. However, there are negative outcomes of this, too.Does 6 to 7 hours of sleep equals longer life? ›
There was a 65% higher death rate for people who regularly slept less than 5 hours on all nights, compared with people who regularly slept 6 to 7 hours per night. There was a 25% higher death rate for people who averaged 8 hours or more of sleep on all nights.Does sleep affect testosterone? ›
The majority of the daily testosterone release in men occurs during sleep. Sleep fragmentation and obstructive sleep apnea are associated with reduced testosterone levels. In older men, morning testosterone levels are partly predicted by total sleep time.How long did Nikola Tesla sleep a day? ›
Nikola Tesla Nikola Tesla never slept for more than 2 hours a day. Much like Da Vinci, Tesla followed the Uberman Sleep Cycle, and claimed to have never slept more than 2 hours a day. He once reportedly worked for 84 hours straight in a lab without any rest.Who slept 20 minutes every 4 hours? ›
Leonardo da Vinci's sleep schedule included 20-minute naps every four hours. Da Vinci followed an extreme form of a polyphasic sleep schedule called the Uberman sleep cycle, which consists of 20-minute naps every four hours.
How many hours of sleep does Mark Zuckerberg have? Mark Zuckerberg is one of the more normal internet entrepreneurs where sleep is concerned. Mark wakes up at around 8 am every day and sleeps at normal times: he gets 7 – 8 hours of sleep each day and has no specific sleeping habits.How many hours do geniuses sleep? ›
Albert Einstein is said to have slept 10 hours per night, plus regular daytime naps. Other great achievers, inventors, and thinkers – such as Nikola Tesla, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Edison, Winston Churchill, Leonardo da Vinci, and Sir Isaac Newton – are said to have slept between two and four hours per day.How many hours did Queen Elizabeth sleep? ›
It's said that in order to feel fresh for her daily appointments the Queen always went to bed at the same time every night, 11pm, and slept for eight and a half hours – meaning she woke at 7.30am each day. It's so simple.How much sleep did Leonardo da Vinci have? ›
For da Vinci's possible adoption of this practice, Claudio Stampi writes in his 1992 book, "Why We Nap": "One of his secrets, or so it has been claimed, was a unique sleep formula: he would sleep 15 minutes out of every four hours, for a daily total of only 1.5 hours of sleep.Do intelligent people sleep a lot? ›
Those with an IQ of over 125 tended to go to bed around 12:30 a.m. and wake up around 8:00 a.m. on weekdays, and go to bed around 1:45 a.m. and wake up around 11:00 a.m. on weekends. Those of normal intelligence tended to sleep from 12:00 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. on weekdays and from 1:15 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. on weekends.Do people who sleep longer have a higher IQ? ›
Past midnight—The golden hour(s) for human IQ.
Psychology Today reported that intelligent people are likely to be nocturnal beings, with those with a higher IQ going bed later on both weeknights and weekends.
Some evidence suggests that high IQ is associated with later sleep patterns. However, it is unclear whether the relationship between IQ and later sleep is due to biological or social effects, such as the timing of working hours.Is 4 hours of sleep enough to Build muscle? ›
How much sleep do you need for muscle growth? The average adult needs around 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Regularly having this much sleep is especially important for those looking to increase their muscle mass or change their body composition.Does lack of sleep affect muscle growth? ›
Acute sleep deprivation decreases muscle protein synthesis. One night of sleep deprivation significantly reduced postprandial skeletal muscle protein synthesis in a population of healthy young adults.Does lack of sleep cause muscle loss? ›
What researchers discovered was that the individuals who slept only 5.5 hours had 60% less muscle mass at the end of the study, while those who slept 8.5 hours had 40% more muscle mass.
Is 4 hours of sleep enough to build muscle? Not only is 4 hours of sleep not enough to properly rest your body to build muscle, it is also not enough to rest your body and brain as a whole. It is recommended that you get 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night to get optimal rest.Are naps good for bodybuilders? ›
Take a Nap
"Napping reduces the stress hormone cortisol and promotes muscle-building growth hormone," says W.
We found that the expression of MuRF genes peaks at night. Pharmacological inhibition of protein degradation led to an increase in muscle growth specifically at night. These results indicate that muscle anabolism and catabolism are more active in the day and at night, respectively.How do bodybuilders sleep comfortably? ›
Experts recommend that lying on your back with your legs stretched is one of the best sleeping positions. It helps your muscles grow and allows you to breathe well. When lying in this posture, you can also choose to place a pillow under your knees as it helps reduce the lower back stress.