Workout Tips

The Science of Sleep

Turns out that your pillow may be as valuable as your barbell when it comes to building a stronger, leaner physique.

man sleeping in bed

Bad Habits - Poor Sleep


If you’re not sleeping enough, not only will you be bummed out over how little progress you are making from your workouts and diet but you also run the risk of developing acute emotional abnormalities.

A lack of sleep contributes to a regular flow of stress hormones like cortisol, and this intensifies our emotional response. That is a likely reason why we get more testy, irritable, teary, or giggly when you are missing your winks.

Deep REM sleep is needed as it assists the brain in learning what it had acquired the day before and this includes movement patterns. Proper REM sleep aid in enhanced memory and more efficient learning and helps to resupply one's system with neurotransmitters that were used up during the previous day. 

Forgetful today? Without REM, memories may dissipate. If you learn a new athletic skill and fail to get a good night's sleep then it's as if you had never learned it. You may remember elements of the skill, but it won't be converted into long-term memory. And this has huge implications for elite or hard-training athletes.


So now you see: not getting enough sleep can (and will) impair your body’s ability to gain muscle, burn fat, lift heavy weight or to do pretty much anything without being a zombie-eyed, emotional wreck that yells at guys who don’t want to let you work in.

There is no magic one-size-fits-all prescription for the amount of sleep needed to keep your body and brain performing at optimal levels. Some people can indeed get by with less sleep and some really need more in order to get by. But studies show that people who get between 7-9 hours of sleep a night have better moods, cognition and focus and may enjoy the many body-boosting benefits of GH, as compared to those who get less than seven hours of sleep

So take your sleep seriously. Be as territorial about it as you are with your time spent at the gym and you’ll likely see your results accelerate drastically.

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Justin Grinnell, CSCS, is the owner of State of Fitness in East Lansing, Michigan. He is the author of The Grinnell Lifestyle: My Nutritional Doctrine, available on Amazon. For more from Justin, you can visit his gym’s website at, his Facebook page, or check him out on Twitter or Instagram.

Greg Chertok, M.Ed., CC-AASP, is a sport psychology consultant with Telos Sport Psychology Coaching (