We all understand that good nights sleep of 8-9 hours is essential for the recovery of exercise and everyday life. A lack of sleep can result in endocrine disruptions such as lowered insulin sensitivity, increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol and lowered levels of growth hormone. Not ideal if you want to build muscle, burn fat or just generally be a better human being. Your first port of call should be to commit to getting to bed by an early enough time to allow for 8-9 hours of rest. Then and only then would it be a wise idea to look into a sleep supplement. Adding in a sleep supplement when you’re only getting four hours per night is the equivalent of eating crap food all day, but taking a multi-vitamin in the hope it will cancel out all of your bad choices.
With there being four distinct stages of sleep, each one important in itself for altered biochemistry, memory retention and hormonal production, it’s paramount each stage has a certain degree of quality to it. You might be one of those people that constantly wakes every few hours, or you might just want to maximise the quality of sleep you’re already getting. Forget counting sheep, here’s some effective sleep supplements:
A very popular supplement amongst bodybuilders, this potent combination of zinc, magnesium and vitamin B6 works by delivering a strong dose of sleep inducing nutrients to the body. Zinc is an important mineral for immune strength, cell growth and the breakdown of carbohydrates. Since it’s common for many athletic individuals to be deficient in zinc and magnesium it’s also a great way to top up your levels. Take this one pre-bed and avoid consuming with milk or diary products as calcium can block it’s absorption.
Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body and taken as a single supplement could be worth while for a better nights sleep. This mineral is vital for cortisol management, calming of the nervous system and assistance in slow wave sleep by resetting insulin sensitivity.
Believe it or not, folk medicine says lavender was used during the Middle Ages as an aphrodisiac. Available at most good health food shops, a number of studies have shown lavender to be particularly useful in a variety of conditions including insomnia, anxiety and stress. Many people report a deeper, more relaxed sleep when the scent of lavender is present before going to sleep.
5-hydroxytrytophan (5-HTP) is naturally derived from the amino acid L-tryptophan. 5-HTP is converted within the body into serotonin, a calming neurotransmitter that can promote a relaxed feeling of well-being. As well as inducing a deeper sleep, some studies have shown 5-HTP to be useful in the treatment of depression and tension headaches.
Californian Poppy Extract
This herb can relax brain waves into slow wave sleep. As an added benefit it can also help detox the liver and remove toxins that affect the optimal sleep cycle.