Before I can really delve into the heart of our topic about sleep quality and Insomnia, I really want you guys to get familiar with our in focus celebrity today: Growth Hormone. Yes many of you might already be familiar with this term “Growth Hormone” through various bodybuilding forums, media like “Sylvester Stallone airport scandal” or even your steroid buddies hanging around your gymnasium.
It’s undoubtedly one of the most important hormones when it comes to building muscle, losing fat or even general overall health. How? Let me take you quickly through some of the basics here.
Growth Hormone: The Basics
Growth Hormone is a polypeptide hormone consisting of 191 amino acids in humans. It is secreted by somatotropic cells in the anterior pituitary gland. The main effects of GH are:
- Stimulation of Bone Growth
- Anabolic effect in Muscles
- Conservation of Protein and Carbohydrates
- Mobilization of fat for energy (Fat Loss)
Growth Hormone and The Sleep Wake Cycles
Our Beloved Growth Hormone reaches its peak level during “deep sleep“.
Remember, I said “Deep Sleep” and not just Sleep. Why because there’s a difference. And not a subtle one, but huge. To understand how sleep and in particularly “Deep Sleep” helps induce Growth hormone’s maximum impact, it is essential to understand the basics of the sleep wake cycle.
The sleep cycle consists of two distinct sleep stages:
- Rapid Eye Movement (REM) Sleep
- Non REM Sleep
Non REM sleep can be further divided into light and deep sleep. Deep, non-REm sleep can be discerned by a high amplitude low-frequency delta wave. This is why deep, non-REM sleep is called slow wave sleep.
The difference in several characteristics divides the sleep-wake cycle into three stages:
- Non REM Sleep
- REM sleep
Sleep is generally evaluated according to two criteria: Timing and amount
Neuropeptides and hormones that are regulated by the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis.
Neuropeptides and hormones that regulate sleep wakefulness, feeding cycles, and stress all play a part in a feedback control that regulates Growth Hormone secretion through stimulation and inhibition.
Deep sleep is a mysterious state that we usually enter several times each night. Its nature is somewhat less well known than the more dramatic “dream sleep.” While we are very aware today of dream sleep, and of the ability of some people to be conscious of and even direct their dreams in a state known as lucid dreaming, the nature of deep sleep continues to invite a sense of mystery.
Human growth hormone is released in pulses during deep sleep, and interruption of this stage abruptly stops its release. With low levels of GH release, it can impair slow wave sleep (SWS). This also works in reverse. People those who retire late at night or suffer from Insomnia, may experience lower levels of Growth Hormone and a general less overall wellbeing. And ofcourse since your Muscle gains and fat loss is highly related to the GH secretion in body, you might be suffering in the gym too.
Few Factors that lead to Insomnia and lack of Deep Sleep States
- Financial pressure
- Sleep apnea
- Taking certain drugs
Fixing the Sleep Problem
Just having the information and knowing the problem won’t do anything for you. It’s your responsibility to take control of things in your hand because it has already been shown that bad sleep quality and problems like Insomnia can lead to other issues like Depression, Anxiety and sluggishness in daily activities.
Here are few really important tips as to how to improve your sleep quality. Remember these also apply to anyone who doesn’t face sleep issues but still wants to get “the best bang for their buck” overnight literally.
- Have a Fixed Sleep Schedule whenever possible to avoid fluctuations in Circadian Rhythm
- Use meditation and yoga for quieting your mind down before you retire to bed.
- Avoid stimulants like Caffeine after 3 PM at all costs as it can disrupt your sleep wake patterns by putting your Central Nervous System into overdrive mode even while sleeping.
- In case you are really struggling with sleep and recovery issues even after trying all these things, I would highly recommend the supplement Melatonin which is completely safe when used in lower dosages such as 3mg. Trust me it can do wonders as far as the sleep patterns are concerned.
Melatonin is a hormone secreted in the brain that regulates sleep. Oral ingestion of melatonin may be used as a sleep aid. It is non-addictive.
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