Sleeping enough helps build muscle better than any other habit. Chesworth claims muscle growth happens during sleep. An October 2014 Sports Medicine review found that dreamless non-REM sleep increases hormones involved in protein synthesis. This repairs muscle tissue to grow bigger and stronger.
Skipping sleep can hurt your workout the next day. In a June 2022 Sports Medicine analysis, fewer than six hours of sleep significantly reduced lower-body strength after afternoon activities.
Reduce pre-bedtime stress to maximize muscle-building sleep. "Limiting stress may not build muscle per se, but it can help prevent muscle loss," Stress releases cortisol. Chesworth says cortisol breaks down proteins and fats for energy. This process helps your body get fuel during activity, but it hinders muscular growth.
Cortisol-releasing activities should be avoided before bedtime, according to Chesworth. "So, things like reading bad news, watching a dramatic movie, consuming caffeine or alcohol and exposing yourself to too much blue light [from electronic screens]," he explains.
Gains require protein, which builds lean tissue. "It's critical to ensure we're consuming enough protein to not only sustain current muscle mass, but build new tissue and repair any damage," Nitschke says.
Choose a protein-rich snack for bedtime. According to a June 2020 Physical Activity and Nutrition review, eating 40 to 48 grams of casein protein (milk) 30 minutes before bed may help your body grow muscle while you sleep.