In your efforts to build muscle and to look good, you must have heard a lot about nutritional food, supplements and exercises but not much about the need for quality sleep. Sleep has a direct link to muscle gain as it promotes the release of human growth hormone (HGH) which is needed for protein synthesis.

Often, we do not realize that we may not be getting the minimum eight hours of sound sleep needed to get the maximum benefits from our muscle building efforts. Hand, phone and computer usage, food additives, stress and advancing age have a bearing on the duration and quality of sleep we get. This in turn make our quest to build muscle and look good more challenging.

Briefly, the sleep process consists of repeated cycles of non-rapid eye movement (NREM) and rapid eye movement (REM) of approximately 90 minutes per cycle. NREM consist of three stages including the slow wave sleep, which can be considered as deep sleep when the body is least metabolically active. REM on the other hand is characterized by rapid eye movement, loss of muscle tone and vivid dreams. The release of HGH is highest in the early period of sleep reaching its peak at the slow wave sleep (SWS) stage.

A point of interest is that HGH release decreases with age. For instance, studies show that during 30-40 years of age, the quantity of HGH released over a 24 hours period decreases as much as two to three folds. In addition, SWS which is the deepest phase of sleep decrees significantly during this age range. This make it even more critical for those who are advocating in age and eager to retain their muscle mass and youthful looks to place importance to getting sufficient sleep.

Incidentally, not getting sufficient sleep is one of the causes for diabetes, heart diseases, deterioration of mental health and other related ailments as indicated by numerous research findings.

There are numerous helpful natural remedies to get a good night's sleep. Among them include drinking a warm glass of milk before going to bed. Milk is rich in calcium which helps the body produce melatonin, the “sleepiness hormone” that is produced by the pineal gland while in the dark and which induces sleep. Magnesium, which is found in green leafy vegetables, almonds and pumpkin seeds is another mineral helpful in this regard as it helps the brain to settle down aiding sleep at night. The effectiveness of these natural remedies, although beneficial to the sleep process, vary between individuals.

An over the counter supplement that is widely used as a natural sleep aid is a herbal mixture that includes valerian, melatonin and chamomile. It is said to be non-habit forming and without the side effects of harsher chemical alternatives.

Another natural approach to sleep that is well established and worth considering is listening to music that induces sleep. Using brain wave technology, this method stimulates the brain before slowing it down to a very relaxed state through theta and delta waves. This type of music helps most listeners to drift off to sleep in just a few minutes.

Hopefully, the tips on how to get enough sleep given in this post together with your knowledge on nutritional foods, supplements and an appropriate exercise program would help you to build muscles and a physique you have always dreamed of and also enjoy good health.