The Relationship Between Sleep and HGH (Human Growth Hormone)

Sleep and HGH are intricately tied. Getting enough sleep is essential for healthy levels of HGH, and with it, athletic performance through cellular growth and repair.

By Nicole Gleichmann

When you lay down to sleep at night, your body cycles through four sleep stages that help to support your mental and physical health. One way that it does so is by controlling the release of hormones, the chemical messengers that your body uses for every conceivable purpose, from growth and repair to mood and energy levels.

One of the hormones that’s most closely tied to sleep is human growth hormone or HGH. Without adequate sleep, your HGH production will suffer. Through the release of HGH while you sleep, your body promotes growth and regeneration, a process that is particularly important for growing kids and elite athletes.

Read on to learn more about how sleep and HGH work together to help keep you strong and healthy, and what you can do to encourage optimal HGH secretion.

What is Human Growth Hormone?

Human growth hormone (HGH), also known as growth hormone (GH), is a hormone released by the pituitary gland that is important for childhood growth, strength, injury recovery, exercise performance and recovery, and metabolism.

The reason that HGH supports growth and physical performance is that it’s involved in cell regeneration and reproduction. When any part of our bodies grows, whether it’s the whole body as during adolescence, or the muscles as during weight lifting, HGH is what stimulates this growth.

Without HGH, our bodies will not be able to repair and grow properly. This is why children with low levels of HGH experience stunted growth and adults with low levels of HGH tend to have lower muscle mass and exercise capacity.

Sleep and HGH

Your body produces most of its HGH during sleep. While you sleep, pulses of HGH are secreted into your bloodstream by your pituitary gland where they are then converted into other growth factors, such as insulin-like growth factor, which is used for growth throughout your body.

It is during deep sleep, or slow-wave sleep, that HGH is released, which are phases III and IV of your sleep cycle. In adults, nearly 75% of HGH is secreted during sleep, with the remainder being released after exercise and throughout the day. The beginning of sleep is the most important for HGH production, with much of the HGH being synthesized during the first hour of sleep.

In healthy adults, studies have shown that the biggest danger to HGH levels is sleep deprivation. In a study of subjects undergoing 24 to 36 hours of sleep deprivation, it was found that HGH secretion was stunted throughout the night and into the next day.

This and other studies demonstrate the importance of getting good sleep nightly to encourage optimal growth hormone release, and with it, healthy metabolism, growth, and repair. Adequate sleep is of particular importance for children, athletes, and anyone trying to recover from an injury or illness.

What Happens to HGH and Your Health When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep

Sleep deprivation or low-quality sleep results in decreased HGH production. There are many health consequences of long term deficient HGH levels caused by disrupted or shortened sleep, including:

  1. Increased body fat
  2. Memory and learning difficulties
  3. Physical performance deficits
  4. Decreased muscle mass
  5. Thinning hair
  6. Increased risk of many chronic health conditions

So, how much sleep should you get? This can vary by age and by individual lifestyle and genetics. As a general rule, adults over 18 should get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep. As you grow older, the quantity of sleep that you require declines, but so too does your production of HGH.

Changes in HGH as You Age

Humans experience a rapid reduction in the production of HGH as we grow older. The highest HGH is produced in our early years, with less than 1/6th the amount of HGH produced when we’re over 70.

This reduction follows logically when you look at sleep changes correlated with aging. As you grow older, chances are that your quality and quantity of sleep decrease. As this occurs, the amount of time that you spend in deep sleep decreases.

With HGH production occurring during phase 3 sleep, less phase 3 sleep means less HGH production. The result? Lower HGH levels are tied to a significantly increased risk of chronic health diseases like cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes, and obesity.

How to Boost HGH Levels

Supplemental HGH

If you scour the internet, you will find countless products that claim to boost your levels of HGH. Supplements are the most popular, but you will also find injectable and topical products.

The most common, and likely most effective and safest, of these methods are supplements. HGH supplements are particularly popular amongst athletes who want to increase their HGH levels in order to support optimal physical performance and muscle mass.

While there are some safety concerns to taking HGH, it can be a useful supplement for aging adults and children and adults with an HGH deficiency. As for its benefits for adults with healthy levels of HGH, its risks are likely to outweigh its minimal benefits. It’s always a good idea to consult with your doctor before taking any new supplements.

Naturally Boosting HGH: Sleep, Diet, and Exercise

There is one surefire way to support optimal HGH production in your body: get enough sleep. Sleep deficiencies are the most common cause of deficient HGH, and sleep is the safest way to increase HGH levels back to normal.

While much of HGH production occurs when you sleep at night, it is also secreted during the day. Exercise and a healthy diet promote HGH secretion throughout the day.

In particular, high sugar diets are detrimental to HGH production. This means that it’s important to consume whole, unprocessed foods that do not have hidden added sugars in them. Try reducing your consumption of fast food, processed food, sweetened drinks, and other foods with added sugar.

As for exercise, the most beneficial form of exercise to boost HGH levels is high-intensity exercise. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is one method where you will work out with high enough intensity to promote heightened HGH secretion.

HIIT workouts are those that involve short, intense bursts of exercise intermixed with less intense physical activity. CrossFit workouts are one example of a popular HIIT program. What’s great about this type of workout is that you can experience benefits for your HGH levels and health in as little as 10-20 minutes.

Final Thoughts

Human growth hormone is influential in many aspects of your life, and if you want optimal physical performance and health, it’s important to encourage HGH secretion. Sleep and HGH are intimately tied, with adequate sleep being the most important thing you can do to support optimal HGH levels. Additionally, a low-sugar diet and HIIT can further increase HGH production and resultant benefits.


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