Build Muscle and Burn Fat--Sleeping! That title is not in error, it is possible to use sleep to your advantage in building a great body or restoring your body to optimal health. Besides being healthy for a variety of reasons, sleep offers us an opportunity to enhance recovery, stimulate anabolic hormones such as growth hormone (GH), and to increase fat loss. 

Good Sleep--a Key to Optimal Health 

First off, why do we need sleep? Current ideas focus on sleep being essential for neurons and the associated chemistry (neuronal biochemistry such as neurotransmitters) to regenerate. Most of this activity is going on in the brain. So we need sleep because our brains need to regenerate. Memory, learning and social processes are cycled and rejuvenated during sleep. Sleep enables the brain to encode new information and store it properly. REM sleep activates the parts of the brain that control learning. In addition, the nervous system and immune system are being viewed as one system, so sleep is also essential for optimal immune function. In case you didn’t realize this – everything about us, from our self-image and personality, to mood swings hormone levels, sexual desire, intelligence, etc., are all centered on our brain. So saying that it is vital to take care of this organ is an understatement. 

We often hear from bodybuilders, athletes, medical professionals and nutritional experts about the importance of exercise and proper nutrition as key factors influencing our health. They often counsel to work hard and play hard. However exercise and good nutrition can only go so far. 

Living today requires cmplete recovery for optimal health. Recovery compensates for all the stress working and playing hard produce. And the only way that can deliver it is getting good sleep. Being healthy is the core of everything, the foundation upon which everything we value is built upon. And a key part of being healthy is getting adequate sleep. This usually is between 7-8 hours for most people. Contrary to popular belief, we cannot catch up on sleep by sleeping extra on the weekends. We may be so fatigued that we need more sleep, but we are not making up for the lost sleep on other days. Studies also show that those going on 4-5 hours of sleep a night can have as much cognitive impairment as someone who was awake for 3 days straight! What’s more interesting is that these people often do not even realize their loss of mental function. We all know how bad it feels to have residual fatigue from not sleeping enough the night before – it affects everything from our workouts, to our mood. 

Hormonal Hazards of Poor Sleep  

Good sleep enhances the release of growth hormone, a critical hormone for a number of physiologic processes, including building muscle and burning fat. Eating before bed may inhibit growth hormone release, so if you need to eat, be sure to have no carbs at the very least. Drinking a protein flax oil shake may be the best as it is easily assimilated. Even better might be to take 20 grams of BCAA’s along with 5 grams of taurine. This will help mitigate nighttime catabolism and still not effect GH release. Plus taurine is great as a mild sleep aid. 

Eating before bed also inhibits Phase II detoxification in the liver. Phase I liver detoxification includes filtering and the Cytochrome P450 enzymes. Phase II involves conjugation. Conjugation is where various enzymes in the liver attach protective compounds to toxins. This either neutralizes the toxin or makes the toxin more easily excreted. Phase I and II work together so that both need to be working properly. Proper liver detoxification is especially critical for the prevention of cancers. This is even more dangerous to bodybuilders as steroids and high-protein diets activate Phase I detox, and eating before bed inhibits Phase II thus leaving dangerous carcinogens (cancer causing agents) lingering in the body longer. Therefore consider cycling periods of eating before bed with periods of not allowing maximal liver activity. 

Good sleep elevates Leptin and suppresses Ghrelin, two key hormones affecting appetite and hunger. Leptin is a hormone produced by fat cells that tells the brain energy levels are high, so appetite is suppressed. Ghrelin is a hormone made in the stomach that stimulates hunger and appetite. Eating a meal suppresses ghrelin and increases leptin, thereby suppressing hunger. Recent evidence suggests that losing sleep causes subjects to become hungry and eat more by elevating ghrelin and decreasing leptin. Not the ideal situation for losing weight. 

Other hormones are also affected by sleep. One hormone that is elevated when we don’t sleep well is cortisol. This catabolic hormone is a bodybuilder’s nemesis, so missing sleep may catabolize (cause a net loss of) precious muscle tissue. Making matters worse, TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) is a hormone released by the pituitary to control thyroid output and metabolism, is reduced during sleep deprivation. 

Many men snore and think it’s normal. It may be an indication of low testosterone levels. Sleep apnea is a respiratory disorder that affects 4%-9% of adult males. Its most common manifestation is loud snoring and it may occur several hundred times throughout the night, resulting in sleep fragmentation and excessive daytime sleepiness. A recent study found that nearly half the subjects who suffered from severe sleep apnea also secreted abnormally low levels of testosterone throughout the night. 

Do you need more sleep? Consider the following questions: 

• Do you sleep extra hours on the weekend?

• Do you need an alarm clock to wake up on time? 

• Do your eyelids feel heavy during afternoon classes or meetings? 

• Do you use caffeine as to stay awake or alert? 

If you answer yes to any of the above, you’re probably not getting adequate amounts of sleep. Try to focus on getting 7-8 hours a night for 2 months and see if you notice any improvements. Our bodies have a natural sleep cycle that is optimal when sleeping from 10 pm to about 6 am. Try to get to bed at least prior to midnight. Be sure to sleep in a dark environment with no noise. Any light hitting the retina will inhibit stimulation of the pineal gland and as such a critical hormone called melatonin is inhibited. Melatonin is important for many functions, for example, it turns on the gene known as p53 that stops cancer cells from growing. 

EDEN PM--Delivering Restful Sleep 

If you have problems sleeping, consider Eden PM first. Eden PM is the All Natural, Non-addictive, completely Safe and Effective sleeping aid available today! Sleep, along with diet, exercise and nutritional supplementation, is a cornerstone of optimal health. Don’t neglect it!