In the first part of the series (Anabolic Timing: Part I), we established that nutritional timing is a huge factor in anabolic – like progress. Now, we will go over the rest and recovery aspect that will yield repair and growth.
Anabolic Timing and Sleep:
Do you ever have issues with sleeping at night to where you’re constantly waking up alert and having a hard time drifting back to sleep? To help us understand the reasons for sleep, we need to focus on what happens while we sleep. When you are “drifting” to sleep, your body is going into a different level of consciousness. The central nervous system switches from Sympathetic response to Parasympathetic response. This meaning that voluntary muscle (biceps, pec major, etc) are inhibited from function as well as normal sensory responses are inhibited. However, our involuntary muscles are still active which yield digestion, circulatory function , sphincter control, and list keeps going. So even in sleep state, our body is always functioning, but it shuts down certain parts to better position us for deep sleep.
The periods of sleep we experience are non-REM and REM (rapid eye movement). Non-REM is the period of sleep that we are mostly engaged in, and there are three stages of this: N1, N2, and N3.
- Stage N1 is the stage between wakefulness and sleep. You know that weird/funny occurrence when your significant other just drifted off and they are twitching or jerking in their sleep? They’re experiencing N1. Also, we do lose some muscle tone at this stage with less awareness of external forces.
- Stage N2 is the toughest stage to awake someone. Muscular activity is inhibited, and there is almost zero awareness of the outside environment is exhibited. This will constitute the higher percentage (45-55%) of our non-REM sleep.
- Stage N3 is our deepest stage of rest. In this state, we are at our highest form of rest and this is where the body is in the best environment for restoration. Also, this stage yields cortisol levels at their lowest and pituitary function at its highest for GH production in the body. Needless to say, this is the area we need the most for optimizing proper muscular repair.
Rapid Eye Movement ( REM ) and Anabolic Timing
REM is one of the most unique stages of sleep where we will spend ¼ of our nights in. This is the dream state we fall in, and we usually cycle REM form of sleep every 90 minutes. There is a cycle that falls between both non-REM and REM. If you ever woke up in the middle of the night and then drifted right back to sleep, many times shortly after a dream follows. Many people will have coupled dreams where you will go into a dream state more than a few times each evening. Also, uniquely with this stage our muscles are in paralysis and will not function, which for us is a safe thing so that we do not physically act out our dreams and harm ourselves or others next to us.
Do we need nap time? Yes and no. If you are a person who has a heavy labor job and body just simply is always in fatigue, then the rest periods in the day could promote quality rest. However, though some take naps, it can throw off their circadian rhythm so that they will not hit those deep stages of sleep to feel adequately rested. A rule of thumb to remember is that if you get at least 6-8 quality hours of sleep then a nap will not be necessary. Even if you do take a nap, you will wake up with less energy and alertness due to the fact you are waking from a deep sleep stage of non-REM where brain activity and muscle tone is at its lowest. So shorter mini naps would be better by allowing rest of the body, but not allowing deep sleep patterns that will spike up delta brain waves. Also, allowing brain waves to slow down with less outside stimuli will also allow deeper stages of sleep.
We need to find better ways of prepping our bodies for normal sleep patterns because sleep is a major part of our lives that allows our bodies to keep going. Inadequate sleep will aid in a new onset of possible disorders and pathological illnesses within our body, and we want to do everything within our power to avoid that.