Tuesday 22 January 2013

Sleep That's Sound - As featured in Alpha Fit

You work out, you play hard. So if you aren’t getting the kind of sleep you deserve, follow David Stache’s advice on which supplements – if any – might solve the problem

Any longstanding gym goer will often quote you the following: “Weight training is 30 per cent gym, 70 per cent diet. Abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym.”
As someone who works in the field of nutrition you might expect me to be sat nodding my head at such a statement. But I don’t.

Yes, the claim holds a lot of truth and nutrition is more important than gym time, but it doesn’t paint the whole picture. In fact, it misses the third key component of looking good, performing better and leading a healthier life: rest and in particular a good sleep.

When people think about improving their health it is exercise and diet they focus on, in the same way that most young men see the gym and protein powder as being synonymous. Rarely do people think about how the quality and quantity of their sleep affects their health or results from the gym (and from the kitchen, for that matter).

But this is definitely an area you shouuld address because poor quality sleep has been shown to affect your results. In fact, research published earlier this year has shown that sleep variability is an independent risk factor for weight gain. And there are many other reasons why you should be looking to improve your sleep.

Here are just a few of them:

Poor sleep lowers testosterone, DHEA and growth hormone levels
Lack of sleep can lower your sex drive
It can also affect your memory.

Little helpers
Aside from the obvious advice of bed time rituals there are supplements on the market which you can use to improve your sleep. These, it must be said, are not solutions to serious sleep disorders and should not be used in that way. So if you have periods of very poor sleep you should consult your doctor. If however you are looking for better quality sleep then below are my top three recommended supplements currently on the market.

Valerian root
If you have trouble nodding off then this may be the one for you. Valerian Root is thought to increase gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) which in turn calms your brain down as it is the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter – its main function is to reduce brain activity. Nature’s Aid ‘Sleepeazy’ is a product I highly recommend.

This compound is derived from the amino acid L-Tryptophan which is a supplement also used to enhance mood. It works by crossing the blood-brain barrier and increasing the neurotransmitter serotonin, which your brain needs to regulate sleep activity. An interesting point of note is that while melatonin (a hormone we produce naturally) was banned in supplement form in the UK in 1995, 5-HTP also promotes the release of melatonin from the pineal gland which assists in regulating the sleep cycle. Lamberts 5-HTP is one that I usually recommend as it is 100mg per tablet compared to most which are 50mg.

This primarily helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function. If they aren’t working properly, you can become stressed and nervy which is not ideal for a good night’s sleep. Magnesium has a calming affect on the nervous system. There have been many research studies which have looked at the benefits of supplementing with magnesium on a better night’s sleep. The more exercise you do – and you probably wouldn’t be reading this if you weren’t doing quite a bit – the more magnesium you need.

As a final parting, shot, here’s a take home message: if you are having trouble sleeping make sure you get in to a good routine and try to de-stress before going to bed. If you are having long term sleeping problems then consulting your doctor should be your first port of call. But if you can relate to some of the issues highlighted in this article then the supplements listed could help you with better quality sleep. That in turn will give your health a boost and help you perform better in the gym.

No comments:

Post a Comment