Can You Really Gain Muscle While You Sleep?

A good night’s sleep can lead to great things: improved memory, sharper thinking, and feeling refreshed and being ready to take on the day. According to a recent study, it appears we can also add increasing muscle mass to the list of benefits that can be gained from a solid rest.

A group at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands ran a test to see if it was possible to increase muscle growth by eating protein before going to sleep. They took a group of men and placed them on identical meal and exercise plans for 12 weeks. Half of the men took a protein supplement before bed while the others took a placebo.

At the end of the 12 weeks, researchers recorded the participants’ muscle growth and strength, and compared the data. The men in the protein-supplement group had significantly more muscle growth and strength than those who were given a placebo. Although the test group in this study was already consuming a diet high in protein, the results showed that ingesting additional protein before sleep helped with overnight muscle growth.

This study used a supplement that was 27.5 g protein, 15 g carbohydrate, and 0.1 g fat, but an earlier study from 2012 found similar results when participants ingested just 20 g of high-quality protein (casein) before going to sleep.

While frivolous nighttime snacking can lead to overeating, if you take a more targeted approach by eating a little protein just before bed, you may be able increase your muscle mass while you sleep.