Everyone knows the obvious components to successful health and body transformation. A “healthy diet” and a good exercise regime. Maybe a bit of yoga and mindfulness and meditation. And of course, some quality peptides from BIOV8! That’s it right?
WRONG! There is a big piece of the health and wellness puzzle that most people overlook. SLEEP. Sleep is an essential component of health but is often the first part of our wellness regime to be sacrificed as we push to fit more and more into our busy lives.
All animals need sleep – even tiny fruit flies have been shown to sleep for portions of the day. Sleep is essential, probably helping with laying down of memories and allowing the body to rest, heal and recover from exertion during the day. While scientists are not sure of the exact function of sleep, it is obvious what happens when animals or humans are sleep deprived. As sleep deprivation continues, memory, attention and coordination become impaired, similar to the effects of alcohol intoxication. If sleep is not restored, hallucinations and seizures can eventually occur. Sleep deprivation has been used as a torture and interrogation technique for thousands of years.
While most of us hopefully won’t reach the hallucination stage, up to 50% of Australians report they are not getting enough sleep. Even mild sleep deprivation can interfere with our attentiveness and focus, cause “brain fog” and make mood disorders such as anxiety and depression worse. Sleep has been seen as “expendable” as we try to do more with a fixed 24 hour day, sleep is the component that gets reduced. This can have significant impacts on our health and wellness and overall performance during the day.
Even if we don’t deliberately cut our sleeping time short, many people complain of poor, restless or interrupted sleep. There are many reasons for this, including poor sleep hygiene, medical conditions such as Obstructive Sleep Apnoea and aging. As we age, our sleep cycles change, with less time spent in “deep sleep” or REM sleep. This is probably due to changes in various hormone levels which gradually begin declining through middle age. Here are some well founded examples:
Growth Hormone secretion peaks during adolescence and then begins an exponential decline from young adulthood to middle age and a slow but still decreasing drop into old age. Growth hormone pulses about one hour after the onset of sleep and gradually declines as sleep progresses.
Melatonin is related to the night-day cycle (Circadian Rhythm) of our brains – our “body clock”. It rises at night about two hours before normal sleep onset and is responsible for the onset of “sleepiness”. The evening melatonin secretion drops with aging and may cause a significant amount of the poor sleep associated as we age.
Cortisolis a “stress hormone” secreted by our adrenal gland which increases arousal and helps our body deal with short term stressful situations. Cortisol is also related to the Circadian rhythm and elevated cortisol in the morning contributes to wakefulness. Increased chronic stress can result in chronically elevated cortisol levels which can have adverse effects on many body systems and also interfere with sleep.
Changes in sex hormones with aging are associated with sleep changes in older adults. In men, testosterone levels decrease progressively with aging after 30 years of age, resulting in more fragmented sleep. In women, oestrogen levels decrease and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) levels increase significantly during perimenopause and can result in difficulty falling and staying asleep.
Sleep quality can often be improved with supplementation of these various hormones to correct the decline that occurs with aging. Melatonin is available as an oral capsule which is often referred to as the “gateway to sleep” – its not a “sleeping tablet” but helps prepare the brain for the onset of sleep.
Declining Growth Hormone levels can be augmented with a range of measures including reducing alcohol intake, fasting and exercise. These measures are also associated with improvements in sleep quality in themselves. Peptides such as GHRPs (eg CJC-1295/Ipamorelin) which help the pituitary to secrete more growth hormone can noticeably improve sleep quality when dosed at night, with patients reporting less disturbed sleep and feeling more well rested when they awake. These effects precede the beneficial effects that these peptides have on skeletal muscle health.
There are some other novel peptides like Delta-Sleep-Inducing Peptide (DSIP) which also seems to assist with sleep regulation over the long term.
A component of medicinal cannabis - CBD can also be helpful in some people as a safe plant-based medicine to assist with sleep.
“Sleeping Pill” medications such as Temazepam and other benzodiazepines can be useful in some short-term situations of insomnia but are not a long term solution to poor sleep. They also result in dependence and often require higher doses over time as tolerance develops.
“Good Sleep Hygiene” refers to a range of measures to maximise your chances of a good night’s sleep. These simple measures include:
- Avoiding caffeine (tea/coffee/cola beverages/energy drinks) after 2pm
- Avoid alcohol at night – this seems to help you fall asleep, but actually results in very disordered sleep architecture and worsens obstructive sleep apnoea.
- A sleep physician can also be helpful for Sleep Disorders such as restless legs, sleep walking or Obstructive Sleep Apnoea
- Have a regular “sleep routine” and stick to the same bedtime and wake time. Maybe a warm shower or bath followed by a herbal tea or hot chocolate.
- Daytime exercise especially outdoors in sunlight can help optimise your Circadian Rhythm and melatonin secretion.
- Avoid computer and smartphone screen-time for 1-2 hours before sleep (the light on the screens can interfere with melatonin secretion) and the activity keeps the mind too active for sleep. Most phones have a “night mode” which may help.
- Use your bed for sleeping and sex! No eating/watching TV/phone calls. Your brain will begin to associate your bed with your successful sleeping routine
- Keep your bedroom as dark as possible, and maintain a cool room temperature. Your body temperature falls slightly as you begin to sleep.
- Mindfulness and meditation before bed can help calm the mind and lower cortisol levels. Activities such as reading a book or magazine are said to be less stimulating and more likely to help the onset of sleep.
Sleep is often forgotten or sacrificed due to time constraints of a busy lifestyle – good quality sleep is an active process, which the body uses to restore the body and brain after the activities of the day. It can help recovery from training and make sure we are alert and productive in the day ahead. Sleep is truly a part of Total Human Optimisation.
Sleep is a complex topic. BIOV8 offers a range of powerful solution that we are happy to discuss with you. Reach out on firstname.lastname@example.org