Recover As You Sleep

Original article: FLEX


Q: Sometimes I have trouble sleeping at night on training days, particularly when I train heavy in the late afternoon. What can you recommend to help me sleep better?

A: Train hard, eat well, get plenty of rest and sleep. That's the formula for training success and getting huge, right? It's not uncommon to lose sleep at night because you kicked ass in the gym a few hours earlier. Sleeplessness is a big problem, especially if you have to work in the morning. Taking ZMA™ - a patent-pending combination of zinc aspartate, magnesium aspartate and vitamin B6 - may help you overcome this problem and deficiencies in those micronutrients.

Micronutrients greatly influence anabolic hormone levels and the ability to gain lean mass and strength. Several recent studies have raised questions about the effects of training hard and consuming a so-called well-balanced diet. They highlight the potential benefits of specialized supplementation.

Even if you're eating well, it's possible you're not getting all the micronutrients you need. Zinc and magnesium are two minerals often depleted in athletes due to rigorous exercise (A. Singh et al., "Magnesium, zinc, and copper status of U.S. Navy SEAL trainees," American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 49:695-700, April 1989). Furthermore, zinc and magnesium are poorly absorbed when taken with food or supplements containing calcium. As a result, zinc and magnesium are two minerals requiring special attention by athletes and people who supplement with calcium.

Research indicates that zinc deficiency often results in low serum testosterone and growth factor (IGF-1) levels in athletes, and in increased serum estrogen and compromised androgen receptor activity. Intense exercise has been shown to adversely affect sleep in fit people, including trained powerlifters (I. Montgomery et al., "Physical exercise and sleep: the effect of the age and sex of the subjects and type of exercise," Acta Physiologica Scandinavica (Supplement), 574:36-40, 1998). Evidence suggests that magnesium significantly improves sleep efficiency and restores exercise tolerance that is decreased by sleep deprivation (M. Hornyak et al., "Magnesium therapy for periodic leg movements-related insomnia and restless legs syndrome: an open pilot study," Sleep, 21[5]:501-5, August 1998; and K. Tanabe et al., "Efficacy of oral magnesium administration on decreased exercise tolerance in a state of chronic sleep deprivation." Japanese Circulation Journal, 62[5]:341-6, May 1998).

Enter ZMA. Scientific evidence has demonstrated its effectiveness in increasing anabolic hormone levels, including free testosterone and IGF-1 - hormones that may otherwise be suppressed in hard-training athletes.

In one randomized study of ZMA. a group of 12 NCAA football players took ZMA nightly during an eight-week spring-training program; a group of 15 other players received a placebo. In the ZMA subjects, both free-and total-testosterone levels increased by more than 30- testosterone levels in the placebo group declined approximately 10. IGF-I increased by 3.6 in the ZMA athletes; it decreased by 21.5 in the placebo group (L.R. Brilla and V. Conte, "A novel zinc and magnesium formulation [ZMA] increases anabolic hormones and strength in athletes," Sports Medicine, Training and Rehabilitation Journal, in press. November 1998.

In addition to improvements in anabolic hormone levels, the ZMA athletes made significant gains in strength and power (L.R. Brilla and V. Conte. "Effects of zinc-magnesium [ZMA] supplementation on muscle attributes of football players," Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 31[5]:Supplement 123. Abstract 483, May 1999).