The importance of rest and recovery after your workout cannot be under-estimated. There is no hard and fast rule as to how much is required, but by understanding and listening to your body you can rarely go wrong.
How much recovery, post workout time do you need?
Even if you know that rest is important to grow muscles the issue or how much is enough can be confusing. Some think a good night’s sleep then back at the gym the next morning is good enough along the lines that more weight training and more intensity all the time will lead to faster muscle growth. This is not efficient however because how you workout determines how long you should spend in muscle recovery.
As a rule of thumb the more intense your workout the longer you are going to need to rest. If you give 100% in the shortest period of time at the gym and really push the limits on your weight lifting you put a lot more pressure on the muscles and on the nervous system and a rest period of 2-3 days may be called for! If you train at a lower level which is quite acceptable depending on what goal you are aiming for then you will need less of a gap and you might be able to do 3-4 sessions in a week. Training every day is not the answer as you can see and while it may seem like a cop out to some recovery will do you more good than over-training.
How much sleep do you need?
Another recovery related aspect is of course sleep. When we sleep our body has the best opportunity to internally fix a lot of things that it does not do when you are awake which can greatly speed up your recovery phases and in turn your muscle growth. This is because when you sleep you get a boost in hormone growth about an hour into your slumber which is what kicks your muscle building into high gear.
There is no optimal amount of sleep you can give to any one person because people have quite different sleep cycles. Generally most people need about 8 hours of sleep a night for the full benefits of this rest while other can go as low as 6 hours of sleep to be rested and recovered. You need to find the right amount for yourself but as a rule try to get good long uninterrupted sleep.
There is in fact some evidence that the earlier you go to bed the better the sleep sop sleeping from 10PM to 6AM would be better than sleeping from 12PM to 8AM for instance. Regularity of sleep may simply be a factor in this so if you are serious about going from skinny to muscle bound you need to commit to good regular sleep. Do your own time management but if you think that putting aside the hours to just workout is enough you will not be getting the results you want to get serious … and sleep!