DID YOU KNOW ?
Sleep is the time, when our muscles recover and grow; without a good quantity and quality of sleep, optimum muscle gains and improved performance can hardly be achieved. If sleep should just stay a “wishful dream” despite observing the best possible sleep hygiene practices, some of the underneath described natural supplements may help. They are not only proven to help with attaining a good night’s sleep, but are additionally confirmed to support good health, athletic performance, muscle development, an improved emotional state and a better mindset.
One such most effective natural sleeping aid is the simple inexpensive calming amino-acid glycine, which is available in powder form and as capsules. Orally taking 3-5 g of glycine dissolved in some water on an empty stomach at bedtime will help you to fall asleep sooner and will promote a deeper more restful sleep by increasing restorative, slow- wave non-REM-3 deep sleep stage and REM sleep. Glycine induces sleep by slightly lowering the body’s core temperature, which facilitatesprogression into sleep and effects better sleep quality. Glycine also increases the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which, in turn, helps with the production of the antioxidant sleep hormone melatonin. Healthful “side-effects” of glycine include enhancing memory and improving brain-health, improving gut health, increasing insulin sensitivity ( thereby preventing onset of Type II diabetes), supporting the immune system, also facilitating the production of the body’s masterantioxidant glutathione, protecting the liver, decreasing heart disease risk-factors, relieving benign prostate hyperplasia, reducing inflammation, etc.
Gym enthusiasts may be specifically pleased to learn that glycine plays a key role in creatine production in the body and can boost growth hormone levels ( at 6-7 g /day), both contributing to enhanced athletic performance.
Glycine further supports the body’s synthesis of collagen, which makes up the fascia, cartilage, ligaments, tendons, and bones. This helps to maintain joint, bone, and tissue strength, reduces joint deterioration in athletes with joint problems, prevents or alleviates osteoarthritis and osteoporosis, and supports tissue repair and healing.
Another great sleep aid is the safe low-cost amino acid taurine, which likewise is available as a powder and in capsule form and is generally taken in amounts of 500 mg – 3000 mg per day; ingesting 2000 mg to 3000 mg of taurine powder dissolved in water on an empty stomach before bed will definitely mitigate sleeping problems. Taurine contributes to reducing Cortisol and promotes calmness and relaxation by boosting GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter soothing the central nervous system. This makes taurine not only great to induce a good night’s sleep, but also to improve sleep quality.
Some general health-promoting “side-effects” of taurine include decreasing the risk of cardiovascular disease by lowering high blood pressure and LDL cholesterol, reducing atherosclerosis and inflammation, plus regulating the heart rhythm and preventing heart failure; taurine further improves and supports the nervous system and mental functioning, improves blood sugar control in diabetics, improves liver function, fights free radicals as an antioxidant, slows down the ageing process and increases life-span.
Athletes may be particularly pleased to know that taurine also supports post exercise recovery and helps in protein synthesis, which supports muscle growth. Taurine helps to reduce the age-related decline of the anabolic hormone IGF-1 (Insulin-like Growth Factor 1) which is critically involved in achieving muscle hypertrophy and improving body composition. Taurine also works as a cell volumenizer by drawing water and other nutrients into muscle-cells and promotes proper electrolyte balance inside these cells, maintaining the adequate potassium/magnesium balance and keeping excessive sodium out.
Magnesium, best taken in the highly bioavailable forms of Magnesium Glycinate or Magnesium Taurate, supports deep, restorative sleep by promoting healthy GABA levels. Ingesting 400 to 600 mg of Magnesium Glycinate at bedtime has helped many people to fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and wake up refreshed and energized. Magnesium regulates stress hormones, keeping Cortisol release within its normal range, helps activate calming neurotransmitters and supports the healthy functioning of GABA receptors.
Some healthy “side-effects” of Magnesium intake include regulating blood pressure, relaxing blood vessels, lowering the risk of cardiovascular issues and promoting heart health. Magnesium further optimizes mental health, maintains muscle and bone strength, has strong anti-inflammatory benefits, regulates and improves blood sugar levels and plays an important role in hormone balance.
Athletes may be glad to know that Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxant and calms the nerves. It is involved in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body, including energy metabolism and protein synthesis. Most interestingly, magnesium even increases free testosterone levels by binding to sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), which prevents SHBG’s testosterone suppressing effect. This results in a significant rise of free and total testosterone levels, and higher testosterone levels generally bring about increases in strength and muscle size.
Zinc is yet another calming mineral. To achieve better sleep, Zinc Picolinate or Zinc Glycinate are among the best forms to ingest before bed at a dose of approximately 30 mg. Zinc is an excellent safe sleep aid, which increases the amount of total sleep as well as sleep-quality and -efficiency, enhances slow-wave deep sleep, and reduces wake-ups during the night. It works particularly well when when ingested together with Magnesium at bedtime, because, when taken in the right dosages, these two minerals work synergistically: Zinc improves the absorption of Magnesium, and Magnesium regulates Zinc levels in the body.
Some of zinc’s general health benefits include supporting brain health, reducing cholesterol, boosting the immune system, protecting the liver, improving wound healing, stabilizing cell membranes and DNA, strengthening antioxidant defenses against free-radical cells and exhibiting anti-inflammatory properties.
Athletes may be pleased to hear that Zinc plays an important role in the production of anabolic IGF-1 and testosterone. Studies have shown that men, who took 30 mg of zinc per day, had significantly higher free testosterone levels after 4 weeks. Both, Zinc and Magnesium also enhance the effect of growth hormone. In short, Zinc is an anabolic element that is needed in adequate amounts to generate and increase the effect of anabolic hormones and to maintain proper hormone balance. It promotes healing, tissue repair and muscle growth.
One of the most interesting herbal supplements, which does not only support a restorative good night’s sleep, but also significantly enhances athletic performance, is the adaptogenic herb Ashwagandha, also called Indian ginseng or winter cherry. It is usually taken on an empty stomach in form of the scientifically-proven effective KSM-66 root-extract in two or three doses of 300 mg per day, with the last serving ingested at bedtime. The scientific name of Ashwagandha is “Withania Somnifera”, with “somnifera” meaning “sleep-inducing” in Latin. Ashwagandha’s KSM-66 extract is exclusively gained from the roots of the plant, ensuring the highest concentration and the natural balance of all the various constituents of the plant’s root, with the so-called “withanolides” being its predominant biochemicals. KSM-66 excels in naturally lowering stress and cortisol levels, which wreak havoc on testosterone production. Over time, KSM-66 improves sleep pattern, sleep quality and sleep efficiency, with significantly improved mental alertness on awakening. People, who have problems with falling asleep, may want to consider ingesting a Ashwagandha preparation, which does not exclusively contain the root’s constituents, but also includes a water-based extract of leaves or the whole herb at bedtime; water-based leaf- or whole-herb- extracts contain a higher content of triethylene glycol, which does not only help with actively inducing sleep, but also appears to significantly improve non-REM sleep time and to slightly increase REM-sleep.
Some beneficial health-effects of Ashwagandha extracts include anti- cancer activity and improved immune function, improved brain function and memory, support the nervous system and adrenals, decrease of inflammation, anti-ageing cellular repair processes, improvement of thyroid function, increase of HDL cholesterol and DHEAS levels, while lowering LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and blood glucose.
Athletes particularly appreciate the scientifically proven Ashwagandha KSM-66 extract for its ability to reduce exercise-induced muscle-damage and speed up post-exercise recovery time, to boost energy, endurance and muscular strength, to discourage body-fat storage, and to improve cardio-respiratory endurance.
Ashwagandha KSM-66 extract will also significantly boost men’s serum testosterone levels and luteinizing hormone (LH), which regulates testosterone production. This considerably improves muscle strength and muscle size, as well as body composition and sexual function. In fact, KSM-66 is is one of the best all natural, testosterone- and strength- boosting herbal preparations available.
Other natural herbal supplements and extracts that effectively promote a restful sleep include valerian and chamomile.
Valerian boosts the production of the brain-calming and sleep- promoting neurochemical GABA; it helps to fall asleep more quickly and increases the amount of total sleep. Chamomile has relaxing and sedative properties, anti-inflammatory effects and even works as a muscle relaxer.
Last, but not least, the “sleep-hormone” melatonin is available in supplement form to alleviate insomnia and sleeping problems, but it also has a wide range of other health benefits. It is the synthetic version of the endogenous sleep-hormone melatonin, produced in our brain’s pineal gland, which regulates sleep and wakefulness. Melatonin supplements are available in liquid form, as sublingual and time-released tablets, as well as capsules or tablets, providing anywhere from 300 mcg to 10 mg per pill. While melatonin is not a sleeping pill, when taken one to two hours before bed on an empty stomach (not just shortly before bedtime!) and in dim lighting, it may promote relaxation and help you to fall asleep faster. It even appears to help some people to improve the duration and quality of sleep, but it does not work for everybody. Often melatonin doesn’t work well, when it is ingested in too large doses of more than 1 mg, which can cause nightmares, reduced overall quality of sleep, waking up a few hours after falling asleep, unable to get back to sleep again, and grogginess or irritability in the morning. Most notably, when it comes to melatonin supplementation, more doesn’t necessarily work better; just the opposite is true. What apparently is most effective in the long term are micro-doses of less than 500 mcg, preferably of the time-released type, which are much more in line with our body’s own physiological production and needs, and may gently improve our natural sleep pattern. When taken at the recommended amount, melatonin can promote sleep onset, reduce nighttime wakefulness, and extend the extend the amount of time spent in restorative REM sleep.
General health benefits of melatonin include outstanding antioxidant properties; it reduces inflammation, helps the immune system, defends cells against toxins and harmful radiation, protects the mitochondria and inhibits cell-death; it may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, slow the onset of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, and may mitigate other degenerative conditions.
Athletes may like to hear that melatonin’s antioxidant properties reduce exercise-induced oxidative stress, which provides a better environment for muscle protection and growth. Taking melatonin before retiring can also increase nighttime blood levels of GH to boost muscle growth; however, this usually requires a higher intake of 5 mg/night, rather than the above suggested physiological amount. Yet, there is no harm in doing so, if it should not disturb your quality of sleep and shouldn’tresult in daytime sleepiness or grogginess.
As all the above recommended supplements are safe, provide lots of health benefits and are basically side-effect free at the recommended doses, you can most certainly experiment with them, fine-tune your intake in accordance with your individual needs, and combine them for a synergistic effect.