12 Studies Show How Sleep affects Muscles Gain: The Complete Research Guide

In this article you will find answers to these questions:

  • How sleep affects muscles?
  • How much sleep do I need for muscle growth?
  • How sleep affects physical health?
  • How much sleep do I need to be healthy?

We have created a complete guide consisting of 12 studies and researches to answer all of your questions above. Let’s begin:


The current data indicates that sleep quality is positively associated with muscle strength, while shorter sleep duration is associated with increased risk for decreased muscle strength in young university students. Not only does more sleep usually translate into bigger muscles following training sessions, less sleep can mean reduced muscle mass as well.

Besides helping us to gain muscle faster and leaner, getting better sleep may also boost our training efficiency and reduce inflammation in general. In addition to growing muscles, coordination is also improved when getting enough sleep. A growing body of evidence shows that getting a sufficient amount of quality sleep leads to better performance, sensitivity to pain, and other biological responses, which may accelerate muscle recovery after an injury.

Sleep is a powerful tool to boost muscle hypertrophy, decrease fat accumulation, enhance nutrient partitioning, and decrease inflammation. As shown previously, sleep appears to have an important effect on preventing muscle breakdown and aiding in fat loss. It indicates that sleep appears to have a potent impact on not just muscle repair, growth, and preservation, but also on fat loss.

12 Studies and Researches: How sleep affects physical health and muscle gains?

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There are many studies which link sleep durations and muscle gain or loss. Here we have briefly mentioned the results of 12 major researches that provides strong reference on the association of sleep and muscle health:

Number #1

A 2011 study examined how lack of sleep impacts muscle gain and recovery. The study followed individuals on a rigorous 72-hour sleep program. During these 72 hours, one group was allowed 5.5 hours of sleep; another was allowed 8.5 hours per day. Every individual followed a calorie-regulated diet. In this study, researchers discovered 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.

Number #2

One study concluded that loss of sleep and associated decreases in muscle glycogen levels and perceptional pressure reduced sprint performance and slower pace strategies in interval sprint training in male competitive sports athletes.

Number #3

One study found that healthy young men who were sleep-deprived for five consecutive nights and then trained had decreased myofibrillar protein synthesis, relative to a regular nights sleep. Another study found that one week of sleep deprivation for young men, otherwise healthy, led to decreased testosterone levels and greatly increased cortisol, the stress hormone.

Number #4

According to the University of Chicago study, when you are sleep-deprived, your body produces less growth hormone, itself associated with decreased muscle mass and decreased ability to perform.

Number #5

According to a small, new study, when men lose even a single nights normal amount of sleep, their bodies go through changes that can contribute to weight gain and leanness loss. This weight gain might not necessarily be healthy and might be permanent or temporary based on sleep cycle adapted in the immediate future.

Number #6

In a study published in the Journal of Musculoskeletal and Neuronal Interactions, researchers experiments suggest strongly that a decrease in sleep quality and shorter hours are directly linked with a higher risk for decreased muscle mass.

Number #7

The results from the current population-based survey suggest that sleep quality is positively associated with muscle strength, while shorter sleep duration is associated with a higher risk for decreased muscle strength in college students. This study was designed to examine the associations between sleep quality and duration, as well as muscle strength, among university students.

Number #8

A cross-sectional study involving 1,196 older participants found that a decreased sleep quality was associated not only with decreased muscle mass, but also decreased grip strength in older participants particularly women .

Number #9

A 2011 study in Brazil suggests that lack of sleep may result in a catabolic environment, in which the body begins breaking down muscle mass. When you are sleep-deprived, you are not getting the full complement of glycogen for your muscles.

Number #10

In a 2015 study, researchers investigated the effect of a daily protein supplementation administered prior to sleep, on the increase of muscle mass and strength over a 12-week period of resistance-type training. The gains of muscle mass and strength that were achieved by the exercise training were shown to further improve following daily dietary protein supplementation with 27.5 g consumed before sleep.

Number #11

A study from 2011 found a new mattress helped people sleep better, which, in turn, increased energy levels for strength-training sessions.

Number #12

In a 2018 study published in the Journal Science Advances, after 15 healthy young men spent one night without sleep, researchers found evidence of contrasting responses of fat and muscle. The capacity for fat storage increased, while skeletal muscle tissue showed signs of increasing muscle breakdown in the body.

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These studies suggest that maintaining a good sleep quality and optimum sleep duration can boost muscle mass and prevent it from being lost.

This is supported by finding that many of the core repairs functions of the body, such as muscle growth, tissue repair, protein synthesis, and growth hormone release, occur mostly, or in some cases solely, during sleep. These changes offer evidence for increased breakdown of skeletal muscle, as well as increased ability to store body fat, when compared with normal naps.


When you are lacking sleep, your body produces less growth hormone, itself associated with decreased muscle mass and decreased ability to perform. Without this stage of sleep, your body cannot effectively make proteins and hormones that build muscle. Sleep is when the body replenishes glycogen, the source of fuel for muscles, which is depleted during training.

Considering testosterone is the anabolic hormone crucial to muscle growth, while increased cortisol may result in fat accumulation and weight gain, it is proven sleep deprivation can adversely impact production of testosterone and thus muscle growth. So, believe it or not, getting fewer than eight hours of sleep each night could potentially decrease muscle size, or at least make you feel weaker.

How much sleep do I need for muscle growth and recovery?

Two points to note –

  • 8 hours quality sleep is considered healthy and enough for muscle growth and recovery for an average human.
  • Every individual is different and depending on your lifestyle and your body, the amount of sleep you need might differ a little from others.


We know sleep helps muscles grow bigger and stronger, but what is even more alarming is they can get smaller when we do not get enough sleep. Protein absorption happens in the digestive tract, not in muscles. Eating right before going to bed may help to reverse this process and boost protein synthesis helping muscle growth.

Sleep gives the body time to repair, store energy, and repair and build up muscles that have been working through the workout. After any weight training or exercise focusing on the muscles, note the proportion of deep sleep that you get that night.

How Sleep affects Muscles

With busy lives, getting by on only a couple hours of sleep is a normal situation for many people – but that is not going to result in the most muscle gains. If we do not get a minimum of 8 hours of sleep every night, we are missing out on potentially producing the GH that is released into the body, and we are missing out on potentially growing our skeletal muscles as a result.


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