Updated: Nov 7
Sleeping is awesome, it just is! And having good sleep patterns will help you achieve your fitness goals, whether you're trying to gain muscle or lose fat.
It's important to sleep enough every day. The recommended times are:
8-10 hours per day for teenagers.
7-9 hours per day for young adults and adults.
This is individual and there are some people that feel good with just ~6 hours. However, this is rare and should not be mistaken with being "accustomed" to a state of chronic sleep deprivation.
It's also important to have quality sleep, which roughly translates into:
Sleeping the vast majority of the time you spend in bed (at least 85%).
Falling asleep in 20 minutes or less.
Waking up no more than once/twice per night.
Being awake for 20 minutes or less after initially falling asleep.
If you're having troubles with your sleep, try some of these tips:
Have a regular sleep schedule: go to bed and get up at approximately the same times every day.
Think of your room like a cave: dark, quiet, and cool (if you have a thermostat, set it to 60-67ºF or 16-20ºC).
Avoid stimulants like caffeine at least ~8h before bed.
Avoid any kind of screens (computer, smartphone, TV, etc.) at least 1 hour before bed. If that's not possible, consider either using blue light blocking glasses or an app like Twilight (smartphone) or F.lux (computer).
Get some sunlight exposure in the morning.
Don't stay up in bed. Your brain should associate the bed with just 2 things: sleep and sex. If you're still awake after 20 minutes of going to bed or you're getting anxious about not falling asleep, get up and do something relaxing until you get sleepy.
BONUS TIP: in the hour prior to going to bed, when you shouldn't look at screens, do something that relaxes you and clears your mind. Personally, I read a book, write on my gratitude journal and then meditate. This is what I like the most, but there are other examples like journaling, light yoga/stretching, writing down your tasks for the next day, etc.
Bottom line, sleep!!! It's awesome and it will help you getting bigger and/or leaner.