If you're serious about weight training, then you know that sleep is just as important as the time you spend in the gym.
A lack of sleep can actually hinder your results and make it difficult for your body to recover from intense workouts. As a result, you can increase your risk of injury.
Let's discuss how sleep affects weight training, how you can get the most out of your workouts by getting enough shuteye, and a nighttime routine for better sleep.
Importance of Sleep After Weight Training
Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned pro in the weight room, you need to focus on proper relaxation time and quality sleep as much as your workout.
During exercise, but especially weightlifting, you cause microtears in the tissue. These tears are completely normal and actually a good sign of the coming results. But if you want to see those results, your body needs time to recover after breaking down your muscles during that workout.
What Happens When You Skip Sleep?
If you skip sleep, you significantly increase the chances that catabolic hormones will have their fun on your muscle tissue. Trust us, this is the last thing you want.
A flood of catabolic hormones on a consistent basis can chip away at your gains, promote fatigue, and ruin your overall performance.
Sleep and Hypertrophy
If your goal is hypertrophy, research has shown that muscle growth occurs mostly during sleep.
A study published in Physiological Reports confirmed that sleep deprivation lowers protein synthesis, a required process for muscle building, and testosterone while increasing the catabolic hormone, cortisol. 
Sleep and Strength and Power
The importance of sleep doesn't stop there. Not getting enough Zs can also affect your strength, power, and endurance.
A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that people who were sleep-deprived had a significant decrease in muscle strength. That drop in power could mean you're missing out on setting new personal records, achieving true muscular failure, and overall results. 
How Sleep Improves Performance
There are several important ways that sleep supports your performance:
Energy Levels: Getting enough sleep can help you maintain your energy levels throughout the day, so you can push yourself harder during workouts.
Mood and Concentration: If you're sleep-deprived, you're more likely to be in a bad mood and have trouble concentrating. This can make it difficult to stay motivated to hit the gym consistently.
Injury Recovery and Prevention: Sleep is essential for injury prevention and recovery. When you don't get enough sleep, your risk of injury increases. This is because sleep helps to reduce inflammation and allows your body to repair the microtears in your muscles.
Overall Performance: In addition to aiding in muscle recovery and growth, sleep also plays a role in improving your performance in the gym. Studies show that sleep-deprived athletes have a consistent decrease in their performance.
How Many Hours of Sleep Do You Need If You're Weight Training?
Now that we know how important sleep is for weight training, let's discuss how many hours you should aim to get each night.
If you're new to fitness and focusing on light weight training (e.g., 12 to 15 repetition sets), it’s recommended to get around seven to eight hours of sleep each night. This is the normal amount that everyone should get so if you're already getting this much, you don't have to change anything in your schedule.
If you're not getting at least this much, that's a big problem, and we address some ways to get better sleep below.
If you're doing heavy lifting or working out multiple times a day, it’s suggested that you need even more shut-eye. In fact, some studies claim that people who are engaged in intense training need around nine to ten hours of sleep each night.
How to Improve Your Sleeping Habits for Better Results
If you're not getting enough sleep, there are some ways to help you sleep like a baby:
Create a Sleep Schedule
One of the best ways to improve your sleep habits is to create a sleep schedule and stick to it as much as possible.
Choose a time that fits your daily schedule to wake up, and then stick to a time eight to nine hours before this for you to fall asleep. Try your best to keep this schedule every day, including weekends.
This will help you get aligned with your body’s circadian rhythm and natural sleep cycles. It’ll also make it easier for you to fall asleep and stay asleep.
If you follow any of the tips on this list, this is the one to focus on as it will have the most benefit.
Avoid Caffeine Before Bed
Caffeine is a stimulant that can stay in your system for up to six hours. So, if you're trying to sleep at a decent hour, it's best to avoid caffeine after lunchtime.
If you can't live without your coffee, at least try to avoid it for the few hours before bed.
Avoid Alcohol Before Bed
While alcohol may make you feel drowsy, it actually disrupts your sleep later in the night by not allowing you to enter deeper sleep cycles.
So even though that glass of wine may help you fall asleep, you're more likely to wake up a few hours later and have trouble getting back to sleep.
If you do drink alcohol, try to limit it to one drink a few hours before bed.
Get Enough Exercise
Funny enough, one thing helps the other in a healthy cycle. Exercise is important for overall health and can also help improve your sleep habits. And, as we've pointed out, sleep is needed for better exercise performance and results.
But it's important to note that you should avoid exercise close to bedtime as it can act as a stimulant and make it more difficult to fall asleep.
The Bottom Line
Getting enough sleep is essential for anyone, but it's especially important if you're weight training.
Not only does quality sleep help your body recover and grow muscle, but it also aids in improving your performance.
If you're doing light weight training, aim for seven to eight hours of sleep each night. But if you're doing heavy lifting or working out multiple times a day, you need nine to ten hours of sleep each night.
Don't let lack of sleep hinder your results in the gym. Make sure you're getting enough shuteye to see optimal results from your hard work.
- Lamon S, Morabito A, Arentson-Lantz E, Knowles O, Vincent GE, Condo D, Alexander SE, Garnham A, Paddon-Jones D, Aisbett B. The effect of acute sleep deprivation on skeletal muscle protein synthesis and the hormonal environment. Physiol Rep. 2021 Jan;9(1):e14660. doi: 10.14814/phy2.14660. PMID: 33400856; PMCID: PMC7785053.
- Chen Y, Cui Y, Chen S, Wu Z. Relationship between sleep and muscle strength among Chinese university students: a cross-sectional study. J Musculoskelet Neuronal Interact. 2017 Dec 1;17(4):327-333. PMID: 29199194; PMCID: PMC5749041.