As you may or may not know if you’ve read my blog or spent time on my website, I love two things, growing taller and catching some Z’s. Sleep is an astonishingly important part of health. During the periods that we’re asleep, our bodies are hard at work doing things like building new muscle, healing injuries, and otherwise recharging our biological functions. But there’s another reason sleep is so vital to humans, and that’s physical growth. While adults in their 30s and beyond don’t have to be quite as concerned about their development, humans of all ages benefit from this lesser-known function of the sleep cycle. So, how does it all work?
Human Growth Hormone And Sleep
The human growth hormone is commonly referred to by its abbreviation, “HGH.” As a critical component of the body’s endocrine system, it plays a crucial role in the growth of adolescents as they mature. The hormone is a complex brew of proteins and minerals that are produced by your pituitary gland throughout your life. Adults need it as well, as human growth hormone acts as a healing solution in adults, repairing the regular amounts of tissue damage that we accumulate through our daily lives.
How Do We Get HGH?
Humans only produce sufficient levels of HGH while they’re sleeping or engaging in high levels of exercise, although even these are nuanced and someone different in effect. However, many people opt for supplements in pill for like Growth Factor to kick things into high gear.
When HGH is released during sleep, it happens almost like a pulse. Sleep occurs in 5 different stages, all of which affect the way your pituitary gland is releasing HGH. During stage 1, you’re in light sleep and can be easily awoken. Your muscles begin to slow, and your body starts the process of deeper sleep. Stage 2 is a continuation of this process, as your brain waves start to change from constant activity to slow and sporadic bursts, while your pulse drops and your body temperature lowers.
Stage 3 is what we usually call deep sleep, during which time we commonly see individuals sleepwalk or dream. It’s during stage 3 that the strongest release of HGH occurs, roughly 60 minutes after falling into unconsciousness. This is also the most physically restorative part of sleep, as the hormone works throughout the body, working its natural magic.
An average human will move through these five stages of sleep between four and six times in a normal 8-hour rest period. Usually, HGH is released only during the first three or four of these cycles, which is why regular sleep is so important.
Negative Growth Effects From Disruption In Sleep
So what happens when you decide to stay up all evening, or you’re only able to get 2 or 3 hours of solid sleep? Well, the most notable effect is that your body won’t trigger any HGH production or release. If this only happens once, the pituitary gland will roughly double the amount released during your next sleep cycle, and return to standard functionality after 36-48 hours.
If you begin to regularly deviate from normal rest patterns, however, the effects can become much more severe. During several sleep studies in the 1990’s and 2000’s, researchers tried separating people from normal sleep cues like sunlight and clocks, or what scientists refer to as “circadian hooks.”
When the test subjects were isolated in “hookless” environments, they almost immediately began to deviate from normal sleep patterns. When tested for HGH levels, individuals participating in the studies almost all showed moderate to severely decreased amounts of the hormone in their bodies. They also commonly described issues like muscle aches, listlessness, and increased anxiety.
Beverages Contribute To Sleeping Issues
I’d like to also mention how impactful avoiding the consumption of certain drinks can be. What I mean by that is you should do your best to avoid drinking beverages that contain a lot of caffeine. The caffeine can mess with your sleeping patterns, no doubt about that. If you’re drinking soda pop all day long e.g. Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Mountain Dew etc, then you might want to think about replacing that with a non-caffeinated drink. Both green tea and black tea can have the same effects, so stay away from those as well. Oh, let me now forget coffee and espresso! Perhaps the most potent of all the caffeinated beverages!
What Does This All Mean?
Clearly, we can tell at this point that sleep will affect growth, but what does this mean for you? Well, if you’re a generally healthy adult who gets restful sleep on a regular basis, then you won’t have many issues, as HGH production naturally slows down as we age anyway. Meaning, as long as you’re active and healthy, you should be alright.
Where this is more of a focus is on children or even young adults up to their early twenties. While human growth hormone provides benefits for people of all ages, it’s during these periods of intense growth that it’s needed in ample supply. Without proper sleep and exercise younger individuals can suffer from stunted growth, depression, and muscle fatigue among other ailments.
The bottom line here is that sleep will always be a component of maintaining your health, growth, and well-being. So if you haven’t yet, get some rest!