Does Sleeping Help You Grow? Know the Scientific Facts
In this post, I will answer the question: “Does sleeping help you grow?” For sure, many people would like to know the true answer to this query. I will answer this question based on scientific facts. But first, let’s learn some basic facts.
What Happens to Your Body When You Sleep?
When you sleep, the mind becomes “unconsciously alive”, but the whole body is still physiologically functioning. Also, there are two major parts and five stages that take place during sleep. These are the Non-REM phase (NREM) and the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) phase.
If you’re a stress-free individual, you usually go into the Non-REM stage within seconds or minutes. This is a light catnap, where you can be awakened quickly.
This nap takes longer than the catnap. The brain waves and heart rate slow down and the temperature of your body decreases. This is the ideal nap - the power nap, if you want to rest for a while and feel refreshed.
Stages 3 and 4
In these stages, the brain produces slower delta waves. You go into a deeper sleep, where stimuli from the outside would not wake you up easily. As you progress to stage 4, more delta waves are produced, and you’re deeper in slumber. However, there will still be no rapid eye movements.
It’s during stage 3 and 4 that the process of your growth, development and other processes occur. This can be 1 to 2 hours or more after you have slept.
According to a study entitled: “Physiology of growth hormone secretion during sleep”, conducted by the Department of Medicine University of Chicago: “In adults, the most reproducible pulse of GH secretion occurs shortly after the onset of sleep in association with the first phase of slow-wave sleep (SWS) (stages III and IV)”.
These indicate that the GH is released into the bloodstream during stage 3 and 4, and takes active part in the growth and development of cells and bones. It also helps in the “healing and energizing” process of the body.
It’s also during stages 3 and 4 that the regeneration of cells, rejuvenation of the body, and relaxation of the muscles take place. Your immune system is strengthened during this stage as well. Hence, these are crucial stages of sleep.
Scientific experts found out that the increased secretion of Growth Hormone (GH) is stimulated by the increased release of the Growth Hormone Releasing Factor that comes from the hypothalamus.
This is the REM stage of sleep when dreams occur. Your eyes move rapidly as you dream vividly. Your brain becomes more active. Your heart beat and respiration would increase too. The REM sleep lasts longer in younger individuals than in older people.
Does Sleeping Help You Grow?
We can now answer the question based on these scientific facts. As you may have concluded already, the answer is “Yes”. Sleeping, indeed, will help you grow.
But, there are some conditions that are taken into consideration, such as:
- The person must get sufficient sleep, so that stages 3 and 4 would occur.
- Bone growth (becoming taller) can only be applicable when the person’s bone epiphyses (joints) haven’t connected yet.
- When reaching adulthood, growing taller is least likely to occur because the bones have already reached their maximum length.
- The regeneration and growth of cells, relaxation of muscles, and the other physiological processes still occur in adults, but, most likely, they would no longer grow taller.
To the question: “Does sleeping help you grow?” the answer is “Yes”. But with regards to growing taller, the development would only be up to the time that a person reaches the age when his bones are fully grown. This age when the bones stop growing lengthwise occurs typically from 25 years old and above.
From 25 onwards, if there’s still an increased secretion (instead of a normal secretion) of GH, you may grow, but it would then be considered as abnormal (Gigantism).
Therefore, if you want to grow to your normal maximum height, get as much sleep as you can (at least 8 hours), while you’re still young. This is the only safe method to ensure that you grow properly and stay healthy.