Brain Chemistry and Building Muscle

To say I’ve been absent on the internet as of late would be an understatement. I would love to tell you it’s been because I’m extremely busy with a new project or on some sort of worldly adventure, but sadly no. Truthfully, like everyone at times, I too lack motivation, at a loss for creativity, or just fall into a routine of the daily grind. With working a lot of nights my internal clock often becomes askew, and trying to balance a night schedule while maintaining some semblance of normal relationships with your 9-5 counterparts can leave you a little all over the place.

Do you sleep 8  hours and get up mid afternoon, miss out on half your significant others waking hours, or get up “early” and try to be a productive human?

Do your nap?

I’m not saying working nights is unproductive, you still work as many hours as your counterparts, but the thought of downtime or sleeping during daylight hours somehow feels lazy, as if you’re not participating in society. So weather it’s our career, a temporary situation, or perpetual insomnia, how can the health conscious individual ease our cortisol and try to maintain balance and a healthy metabolism?

It’s a well known scientific fact that when we sleep at night our bodies heal, grow, and burn fat. Years of evolution has created sleep at night for this reason. We need the day light hours for hunting and gathering behaviour. While we each tend to have our own tendencies it’s difficult to override genetics. So, while you can’t always control your current situation, as frustrating as that may be, here are some simple tips and tricks to maximize on your rest time.

Tried and true ZMA. I’ve tried all sorts of things over the years with school, working crazy hours, stress, you name it. One of my favourite and wildly recognized supplements for sleep gains is ZMA. Most athletes like ZMA, as it claims to raise strength levels and may enhance hormonal profiles, specially raising testosterone. The study most often used to support the hormone effects of ZMA is one done at Western Washington University, by Dr. Lorrie Brilla. Dr. Brilla studied 12 NCAA division II football players who took ZMA nightly during an eight-week spring training program and a separate group assigned a placebo pill. The athletes taking the ZMA had 2.5 times greater muscle strength gains than the placebo group; the ZMA group increased by 11.6 percent compared to only 4.6 percent in the placebo group. The ZMA group also had 30 percent increases in testosterone levels (compared to 10 percent in the placebo group). The main reason ZMA is so effective is its ability to help the body achieve deeper levels of REM sleep. This level of sleep is the deepest of all stages, and when our body goes to work on repair and growth. Often people who do not have a well established sleep cycle, or an erratic one at best, miss out on hours spent on this crucial stage. Supplementing with ZMA can help increase time and quality of REM, and in turn maximize the benefits of this stage.
So while ZMA may help you achieve and improve your quality of REM sleep, what of your issue is laying awake for hours, swaying sleep to come. For that, I too have a suggestion. L-theanine. Many people who struggle to fall asleep have either some underlying stress, or anxiety. It could just be that your body hasn’t had time to wind down yet. Clinical studies have shown L-theanine to induce a sense of calm in patients with anxiety. Essentially, it helps your drain relax, prepping you for sleep. At typical dosages, e.g., 100-200 mg L-theanine does not act as a sedative, but it does significantly improve sleep quality. Hence it is a good support agent to other supplements, such as ZMA, melatonin and 5-HTP. However, higher single dosages, e.g., 400 mg L-theanine does exert sedative action.
On that note, while melatonin is widely known, 5-HTP is not. I have personally had good success when pairing this little neurotransmitter, in conjunction with gabba and ZMA to my routine. 5 – HTP is converted in the brain to serotonin – an important initiator of sleep. 5-HTP has also been reported, in numerous double-blind clinical studies, to decrease the time required to get to sleep and to decrease the number of awakenings. The sedative effects of 5-HTP can be enhanced by taking it near bedtime with a carbohydrate source such as fruit or fruit juice (small amount, as sugar can be a stimulant). The recommended dosage is 50 to 100 mg.
So my friends, while I know not everyone is plagued with such issues, I envy those you can fall asleep at the drop of a dime. I hope this helps you or someone you may know. Poor quality sleep is the root of a plethora of issues, such as poor memory, irritability, weight gain, depression, and illness. And let’s not forget, there can be no gains without sleep. So maximize your gym hours with a proper sleep routine.

Your fitbetch,
JP xox

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