We know that erratic sleep can prevent optimal muscle growth. Part of the reason may be that you get less growth hormone release and your immune system is compromised. None of that is good unless you’re looking for futile workouts and an early death.
No question that if you’re having trouble sleeping, you need to do something about it—fast! The May ’12 Better Nutrition has some suggestions that may help you sleep better and be healthier, happier, leaner and more muscular:
Tryptophan. This amino acid was taken off the market years ago because of a contaminated batch that harmed a number of people. In reality, it wasn’t the tryptophan that did the damage; it was the contamination. So this relaxing amino is back on the shelves after unjustly being banned. Studies spanning more than 50 years confirm it as a relaxation and sleep inducer. Much of the research has involved doses of up to one gram a day, but most people get the desired effect with less taken one to three hours before bed.
Melatonin. Your body produces melatonin when the sun goes down to get you to wind down for sleep, but lack of sun exposure during the day as well as being around bright lights at night can disrupt your production of this important hormone. Try taking 0.1 to three milligrams a day an hour before bedtime. Melatonin can also help relieve jet lag.
Tart cherry juice. It appears that the juice from Montmorency cherries, which contains melatonin, can improve sleep. That’s according to a British study of 20 subjects with sleep disorders who drank one fluid ounce of the juice concentrate mixed in a glass of water twice daily, once in the morning and once at night.
Before trying any of the above, you may want to start with chamomile tea. Also, make an effort to wind down at night, put the lights down low, have a dark bedroom and take a warm bath—and don’t expose your face to the bright computer screen before bed.