No matter what health professional you listen to, every single one of them will stress the importance of sleep, and more importantly, QUALITY sleep.
If you struggle to get a good night’s sleep, you are not alone; 1 in 3 Americans have irregular sleep patterns and fail to get the recommended 7 hours of sleep on a regular basis. Irregular and poor quality sleep is linked to everything, from increased stress levels to decreased immune function, to weight gain or muscle loss and reduced sport or cognitive brain performance.
If you are someone who trains regularly to build muscle and improve your body composition, a good night’s sleep is imperative for recovery since this is the time when key hormones, (like testosterone and growth hormone – a key fat burner), are released in higher quantities to the bloodstream.
Before you dismiss its importance, did you know that just ONE bad night’s sleep can increase insulin resistance (which leads to disease and fat storage)? It also makes you eat and crave bad food, skip gym sessions or not perform at your best, both cognitively (brain) or physically (in the gym).
If you are like most Americans who struggle to get a quality night’s sleep or even fall asleep, you’re probably not maximizing your body’s release of growth and recovery hormones and therefore limiting your potential in the gym and daily life in general.
Luckily, research shows there are supplemental ingredients that can fight back against your irregular sleep patterns, stress, cortisol levels and much more. I’ve tested these on myself and with 100s of clients who struggle to sleep.
The result? Better and DEEPER sleep which equals improved performance, fat loss, a greater boost in fat-burning hormones, fewer cravings and more energy every day.
Sleep is often the missing link for those trying to lose fat or improve body composition. Here’s how to maximize your sleep and Growth Hormone with research-proven supplements…
1. Melatonin To Boost Growth Hormone & Sleep
Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the brain that works to regulate the wake-sleep cycle. It is probably the most popular sleep supplement: a vast majority of individuals supplement with oral melatonin as it’s highly effective, non-addictive and non-toxic.
In addition to orally supplemented melatonin’s ability to help correct irregular sleep patterns, melatonin is also a potent antioxidant that has neuroprotective and possibly anti-cancer benefits.
In one study on insomnia patients, a 2mg dose of prolonged release melatonin was shown to help reduce the time it took for patients to fall asleep (sleep latency) and improve their quality of sleep .
Similarly, another study showed decreased symptoms of sleep latency with no adverse effects, suggesting melatonin can be safe for use by a wide age range of individuals .
Melatonin isn’t just effective at reducing the time it takes to fall asleep in those that suffer from insomnia. Three other top researchers and studies [3, 4, 5] all noted that supplementing with melatonin 30 min before bed shortened the time it takes to fall asleep in subjects who don’t necessarily suffer from insomnia.
Increase Growth Hormone Release:
As mentioned at the start, Growth Hormone is a key fat-burning hormone for both girls and females.
Growth hormone works by helping you metabolize MORE fat AND also, very importantly, help you metabolize your food more efficiently, so in short, you store less fat from your meals and use the nutrients for fuel/recovery, etc.
One study looked at the effects of melatonin on certain pituitary hormone secretions and found that a 0.5mg dose all the way up to a 5mg dose increased the amount of growth hormone (among other hormones) that was released over the course of 24 hours .
The long-term benefits to supplementing with melatonin are mainly its ability to help correct irregular sleep patterns and establish a healthy circadian rhythm. This will allow our bodies to release the key hormones we need for fat loss, repair, and muscle growth!
Although melatonin may not be a ‘sexy’ fat loss supplement, if you have a bad sleep and fix it with this it will be 10x more powerful!
Regarding dosing, take around 3-5mg 30-60 mins before bed. You may need to increase to 6mg after a few weeks as your body does build up a tolerance after a while. For this reason, lots of people will do a few months using it and then take 1-2 months off.
2. Ashwagandha – The Ultimate Relaxation Herb
Ashwagandha is a super herb, well-known for its stress-reducing and neuroprotective properties. Although it’s not that well known in the mainstream fitness world, many experts swear by it and their research is truly impressive!
Multiple studies have shown ashwagandha’s ability to reduce anxiety and help you relax.
One particular study tested this on patients with anxiety disorders, giving them 300mg of ashwagandha twice daily (or placebo) for 8 weeks. The results showed that those using ashwagandha reduced symptoms of anxiety by a whopping 56.5% .
Reducing Stress & Cortisol Levels
In addition to reducing symptoms of those dealing with anxiety, ashwagandha has been shown to effectively lower stress and dangerous cortisol levels. If you’ve read my other articles or are well informed, you will know that excess stress and cortisol over the long term is another major issue which can lead to fat gain, stubborn fat storage, hormonal disruptions, fatigue and serious health/disease issues.
In one particular study, subjects with chronic stress supplemented with 300mg of ashwagandha for 60 days. As shown in the graph below, results were significant. Subjects improved markers of stress management and reduced in serum cortisol levels by an average of nearly 30% .
Reduction In Stress Following Ashwagandha Supplementation
Stress and anxiety both play a significant role in our ability to fall asleep. In the modern-day age, chronic stress and anxiety is a norm that, if better controlled, can significantly improve sleep and overall quality of life.
Although it’s beyond the scope of this article, Ashwagandha has also been shown to make you stronger, add muscle, lose body fat and provide other benefits. This likely occurs because it reduces cortisol and improves your fundamental health and hormones, as we’ve just discussed!
Supplementing with 300-500mg of Ashwagandha twice daily can effectively help combat these issues.
(Update: Since publishing this article many people have asked what I recommend, this supplement Sleep Eazy by CapLabs is the one I personally take and give to clients).
3. 5-HTP For Sleep Quality (Combine With Valerian for Powerful Effects)
5-Hydroxy-L-Tryptophan, commonly known as 5-HTP, is a precursor to serotonin. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of well-being and happiness. Supplementing with 5-HTP can, therefore, help promote happiness as well as (in combination with other supplements) promote sleep and reduce anxiety.
One double-blind placebo-controlled study, in particular, looked at the effects of 5-HTP in combination with a GABA. The results were astounding.
Those who supplemented with 5-HTP reported significant improvements in the time it took to fall asleep, how many hours they slept, and the quality of sleep .
This study suggests that 5-HTP, (in doses of 300-500mg when taken in a nutrient combination with ingredients like GABA or Valerian – up next), can significantly improve many aspects that constitute a good night’s sleep .
4. Take Valerian Root Extract (When Combined with 5-HTP)
Traditionally brewed as a tea, Valerian is commonly marketed as a popular sedative tea. Recent research suggests Valerian is another great one to help you relax, reduce anxiety and if you really want to get advanced, pair with 5-HTP to maximize sleep!
In four separate studies, many of the subjects in each study consistently reported that their sleep quality was improved. Remember, improved sleep has a profound impact on your whole life, from energy to fat loss to performance.
For example, subjects who supplemented with 450mg of valerian for 8 weeks reported significant reductions in fatigue, compared to placebo. Further, this study found that subjects in valerian group reported improvement in the time it took them to fall asleep as well as reducing limitations on sleep by a reduction of 26% .
The consensus among researchers is that valerian is especially effective in enhancing the signaling of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a key neurotransmitter that induces sleep [11, 12, 13].
In short, Valerian is most useful when used in combination with other GABA promoting ingredients like 5-HTP, which is why I ALWAYS combine the two. It’s probably not worth supplementing alone, so if you do take Valerian, use in in combination with 5-HTP or you may be wasting your money.
Ignite Your Boost-Growth Hormone Production & Sleep Quality
If you only take one thing away from this, then it should be that your sleep and hormones are key.
I get messages every day from people who are doing everything right (diet & training-wise) but simply can’t lose body fat, drop the last 10LB or lose that stubborn fat around the lower abs or legs.
More often than not I recommend they focus on these less obvious points such as sleep and hormones. After all, these are your foundations, and nothing else will work optimally (diet & exercise) if the foundations aren’t secure.
I’ve seen incredible success when placing clients on the above stack, especially if they are either stressed, under-recovered or do not get a full and DEEP/QUALITY sleep (remember, deep sleep is just as key as total amount or hours per night).
These supplements can be bought as the raw herbs and also as the blend I personally use and recommend to my 1:1 clients HERE.
If this article resonated with you, then focusing on sleep and using the above supplements as a sleep-aid and hormone-booster, can be very powerful, especially when your diet and exercise routine is ALREADY in place.
If you also need help with diet and exercise, there are plenty of useful blogs around the site. In addition, you can join my 90 Day Bikini plan which provides you with 25+ workouts and meal plans on THIS page.
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