Sleep - Who Gets It?

Of all the things related to my regimen, this always seems to be the most difficult for me. My lifting, cardio, supplements and diet are honed and well tuned, but I routinely get 5.5 to 6 hours of sleep per night. All indications from what I’ve read and what I’ve seen posted say 8-10 in order to recover and maximize growth.

From personal experience, can anyone comment on this? Anyone else had the other areas dialed in, finally dialed this one in and witnessed noticeable results? How much am I foregoing in goal attainment by short-changing myself in this department?

It’s not just a matter of goal attainment. The sleep you’re not getting is seriously cutting into your quality of life. You dial that in, everything will improve.

in my experience, sleep is of major importance.

i view recovery and diet to be equal to lifting.

for me, its usually 4 or 5 per night and for some reason I cannot fall asleep on Sundays, so I just stay up all night. As a result of this, Monday is my off day.

On rare occasions, when I have managed to get 8 hours or more per night for a few nights in a row, i do seem to have more energy, but not that much more.

[quote]ultrafilter wrote:
It’s not just a matter of goal attainment. The sleep you’re not getting is seriously cutting into your quality of life. You dial that in, everything will improve.[/quote]

Hmm… That’s a pretty big generalization. Quality-wise, what areas is it seriously cutting into?


Believe me, if you read “Sleep Thieves” by Stanley Coren you’ll get a better idea of how necessary sleep is, and what happens when people don’t get enough. What quality of life? Figure it this way: if you ran your car for 18 hours straight, without letting the RPMs drop, how long do you think your engine would run well?

That having been said, I’m with you: I get 6 hours (if I plan carefully and turn the lights out early). Trying to sleep later produces headaches. I’ve played a little bit the past couple months with napping between work and dinner (I hit the gym before work in the morning). “Power naps” of 20 minutes are pointless. Your body goes through a sleep cycle in 90 minutes, which is why the amount fo sleep you’ll get naturally is usually a multiple of 90 minutes. Interrupt the cycle at 45 minutes (the deepest part of the cycle), and you wake up very groggy. I’ve got more; great book.

Try to fit in a 2nd sleep cycle during the day/evening. OR try cutting out all caffeine if it’s part of your diet, and you might sleep more, since your physical craving won’t be the thing that wakes you.


To those who have trouble sleeping for long periods of time:

Block all sources of light in your bedroom. In urban areas light pollution is extensive enough to prevent anyone from sleeping soundly; even the empty night sky isn’t completely black.

Manipulate temperatures. The authors of “Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar, and Survival” recommend a cool temperature (“Think ‘cave’”), but play around with fans, AC, and heaters to see what works for you.

A good indication of proper sleeping habits is the ability to sleep 8-10 hours and wake up without needing an alarm clock.

I follow these guidelines and seldom get less than 8 hours of sleep a night during the summer (i.e., when I am not at college and have time); I can easily sleep for 10 if my training load is high.

Ross Hunt

I sleep a bunch on weekends, but I work 10 hour shifts during the week, so a basic day looks like this.

5 am wake-up
6 am at work
5 pm arrive home
930 pm Go Lifting(w/o partner gets off work at 9)
11 pm post w/o meal
12 am sleep

SO I could arrange it alot better if I had no w/o partner, but I don’t think he would go consistently without me. And I hate to see my friends get out of shape.


For three years I worked early mornings at UPS and bartended at night and rarely had the opporunity to sleep 8-10 hours straight. But I always napped; and I still do.

I would get home from UPS around 10 am and eat, shower, and sleep from 2 to 4 hours depending what needed to be done that day. I was always awake by 4 pm because, for some reason, kids don’t like when their parents are sleeping. Then around 5 or 6 it was off to the night job. Depending on the day I would be home between 10 pm and midnight.

I lived this double split sleep lifestyle for the better part of three years and there were times I was exhausted and hated it. Sleep is precious and difficult to “make-up”. Unfortunately, some of us have commitments that require us to live off less sleep. You just have to try and make do.

I will tell you now that I work more normal hours and can sleep at least 7-8 hours every night I feel much better. I have made more gains in the last 8 months than I did those entire three years. Trust me, sleep has definitely made a difference in my training.

If for some reason you can’t get close to 8 hours of sleep at night, try to find a time where you can sleep for a good 2-3 hours. I get plenty of sleep at night and I still take naps.

Get some Zzz’s


Sweet Jesus, these are some awful sleep patterns!

I go to bed religiously 8 hours (or more) before I have to wake up. If you don’t sleep, you won’t recover and grow, so you might as well throw a big ol’ monkey wrench right into your training regimen.

snatchpull: If anything you should be taking Sunday as your day off and working out on Monday. At least that way your muscles could recouperate after you work them. But that would lead to some really shitty gym performance on no sleep. So get some sleep!

Dave: That’s commitment, alright. Let me tell you a story. My roommate plays the guitar, and I go to bed at 11:30. I awoke at 12:15 to loud guitar playing. Now everytime my roommate farts, you can faintly hear “Stairway to Heaven”. Sleep is sacred. Work out earlier.

RIT Jared

I think thats BULLSHIT about “if you don’t sleep enough or 8 hours” you won’t grow. What a crock of shit. Sure sleep is important, but so is too much. A recent study i saw showed that men who got less sleep were less depressed, and more “happy”. Funny that! I get between 5-6 hours a night. Do i workout? Yep. Eat right? Yep. Am i growing? Yep. Am i on drugs? Nope. Get a life. People can grow. Rest. Eat. Train. Rest. Train. Eat.

sounds almost as though some are getting offended that they’re not getting their birth right to 8 hours. i know how it is with exams and college and whatnot. it’s not easy, but sacrificing certain things that stand in your way will definately help to help attain your goal. another thing is that sleeping early is difficult after years of sleeping @ 00:00 or later. if i do nap, i go out for 3 hours… that’s pretty scary thinking how much sleep my body needs. i used to feel guilty about napping before i started working out, but i realised soon that what the body needs, the body should get :slight_smile:

more sleep is better than less… try relaxation techniques, yoga, whatever… catch up on sleep in the weekends. it’s shame you can’t store sleep :frowning:

Sleep is very important to both mental and physical recovery / performance. The professors at my school are constantly telling all the students to get more sleep because of the impact it has on your ability to function. Most of us do not listen because we fear the dreaded F but that does not mean they are not right. Here is just some of the stuff they say.

The brain uses sleep to commit memories to the long term section of the brain. If you do not get enough sleep then the brain cannot fully ?regenerate? and memories will not be stored (you will not learn what you studied). This same process applies to ?muscle memory? which is when you learn or refine a motor skill. The brain keeps track of all the neuron firings associated with a certain movement and kind of averages all the times that movement was performed to get a sort of template for how to perform that movement again. So for you athletes out there a long day of practice should be followed by a good night sleep (though I am sure you already know this).

Everyone knows how when you don?t sleep you feel tired the entire day and cannot perform physically (or as well). Most people associate this with the muscle being too tired, which is in part true, but the majority of this performance loss is due to what I said previously. The notion that muscles recruit more fibers for a lift is hard for me to swallow. Muscles are what perform the function, not what analyze the situation. A muscle doesn?t realize ?this is going to be one freaking heavy piece of iron? and ask it buddies for help. The muscles is placed under stress and sends back to the brain that ?this shit is heavy? and the brain then activates more neurons to perform the lift. If the brain did not fully regenerate then it cannot active all the necessary neurons. It is actually reluctant to do so because it is trying to focus on marinating cognitive awareness and not your wonderful physique.

I?m not 100% on all that information because I didn?t go back and check it all (It made sense when they said it so I accepted it). For those of you who like some pretty graphs here?s a link to slides my Prof. presented us in our Artificial Intelligence class (6.034) and the effects of sleep loss on performance.

Sorry if all this wasn’t geared towards lifting (entirely) but MIT classes don’t seem to focus on it (can’t imagine why).

When I transitioned from High School to College I thought I was sleep deprived given classes, studying, exams and “extra-curricular” activity. But it wasn’t until after getting out into the working world that I really began to get less sleep - a highly demanding job (11-12 hrs typical with 14+ sometimes required), marriage, family, graduate school…

We know from how our bodies respond to workout regimens that everyone’s physiology is somewhat different. Is it also true for amount of sleep required?

For example, it seems that during our youth (development and formative years) sleep is highly important. Likewise, in the “twilight” years sleep appears to be both important and necessary. But what about the majority of our adult life; are 8-10 hours necessary for everyone?

I generally feel fairly rested. I’m up usually up by 3:30am on weekdays and 5:30am on weekends and beat the alarm clock most of the time. My caffeine intake is relatively low, generally at one cup in the morning around 6:30am. My wife, on the other hand, has difficulties on anything less than 8 or 9 hours.

So, is possible that “all else being equal” icklemoley is not short-changing himself on 5-6 hours but malonetd would not maximize his routine by getting less than 8 hours based purely on physiological differences?

[quote]icklemoley wrote:
I think thats BULLSHIT about “if you don’t sleep enough or 8 hours” you won’t grow. What a crock of shit. Sure sleep is important, but so is too much.[/quote]
What? Are you saying that too much sleep is important or not important? You don’t make much sense to me.

Personally if I slept more than I’m sleeping now, I wouldn’t have time to eat, so yes, I suppose that too much sleep is detrimental. But then again what is your definition of “too much” sleep. My definition of “the right amount” of sleep is going to bed at night and letting my body wake up on its own, without an alarm. Granted, most days I don’t have the luxury of doing that, so I settle for a solid 8 hours.

Did it show that they had faster recovery from high intensity strength training, or increased hypertrophy? Because that’s what we’re talking about here.

If I took a random sampling of American males and gave them a Big Mac, I’m sure that most of them would be “happier” than their pre-Big Mac state, but that doesn’t mean that we should all pick up an Extra Value Meal on the way home from the gym.

What medical journal did you read that study in? The Oprah Magazine, or Cosmopolitan?

I bet you a tub of Grow! that if you increased your amount of sleep to a regular 8 hours per night you’d see better gym performance and faster changes in your physique.

We aren’t debating whether or not people “can” grow with 5-6 hours of sleep per night-- we are talking about finding the right amount of sleep for optimum performance.

I tell you what, I’ll make you a deal. You keep getting your 5 hours of sleep, and I’ll keep getting bigger, faster and stronger than you.

RIT Jared

Sleep is the cheapest form of recovery. If you have trouble sleeping, try ZMA.

[quote]RIT Jared wrote:
Personally if I slept more than I’m sleeping now, I wouldn’t have time to eat, so yes, I suppose that too much sleep is detrimental. [/quote]

Good point. When I have total control over my schedule, this is one factor that still takes precedence over sufficient sleep. Better to stay up an extra hour and get another meal in than go through the night undernourished (If you’re skinny) or with a slow metabolism (If you’re… not).

Ross Hunt

Sleep is like everything else in training, it is dependent on the individual. For example I need at least 7 hours or I am a human wasteland for the day. My fiance needs only 4-5 and she is full of piss and vinegar.

Our problem is she tosses around so much and gets up all the time so I never get a good deep sleep in. If I sleep elsewhere she feels somewhat rejected. Any ideas on what to do with the problem our sleeping differences are causing?

I personally need 7 hours at least, preferably 8. I work night shift, so I also have to be very conscious of light sources and temperature control.

That being said, I’ve heard Arnold only needed around 4 hours a night. So does Skip LaCour.

Sleep must be a very individual thing. I have buddies on night shift that only sleep around 3-5 hours a day. I couldn’t function on that.

bmf_inc, just wait until you have kids. Both my wife & daughter talk and yell in their sleep when they have dreams or nightmares.