There’s an old adage that stresses fitness is 80 percent diet and 20 percent exercise, and while that equals 100 percent, there’s another part of the equation – a vital part – that’s overlooked. What is it? The time that you’re supposed to be sleeping.
Experts recommend that, on average, adults should get a solid 8 hours of sleep a night. If you’re a gym rat pushing your body to it’s limits all week 8hrs is the lowest you should go in terms of sleep duration for recovery.
It’s no secret that sleep is important; if you’ve ever pulled an all-nighter or you’ve tossed and turned all night long, there’s no doubt you felt groggy, cranky, and absent-minded the next day.
Sleep is important for everyone, but it’s especially crucial for those who work out. Why? Because while you’re sleeping, the body rests and recovers from your training sessions. It’s during the period of sleep that the body releases large amounts of anabolic hormones; naturally occurring substances that promote cellular growth and that usually build up molecules into something new after they’ve been broken down.
Anabolic hormones play a key role in metabolic processes, like muscle growth. The deeper and longer your sleep cycles are, the more anabolic hormone your body secretes. The goal of working out is to build muscle, so it’s easy to see why sleep is so important to individuals who want to enhance their physique and achieve their full potential.
In short, if you dedicate a great deal of your waking hours trying to figure out ways that you can maximize anabolic hormone production, yet you overlooking the importance of sleep, you’re really doing yourself a disservice.
Whether you stay awake all night to catch up on your favorite shows, chatting with friends, reading, or even working out – or if you find that you’re having a hard time falling asleep because you’re stressed out (which, in today’s upside-down world, when there’s so much uncertainty and when there are so many scary things happening in society, is totally understandable), no matter how much you work out and how well you eat, you aren’t going to see the results that you’re looking for, as sleep is vital for recovery and ultimately, GAINS!
Fortunately, there’s a way that you can combat those sleepless nights and get the most out of your workout goals. How? – By adding natural supplements that promote better sleep and increase the rate of recovery. Here’s a look at four of the best nighttime recovery supplements you should totally consider giving a try.
Key compounds that not only promote restful sleep but also augment some of the natural hormones circulating in your body during deep recovery sleep.
>Supplements alone not doing the trick? Maybe it’s your mattress. Yes, mattresses can be expensive but finding the right mattress for your body type is critical in achieving restful sleep and recovering. Check out our guide to mattresses designed specifically for athletes for the best of the best.
L-Tryptophan for Falling Asleep Faster
After stuffing your face on Thanksgiving with the juicy bird that serves as your main course, you sit down on the couch, unbuckle your pants, and settle in for a post-dinner nap. Sound familiar? It’s long been said that the reason why people fall into a food coma and feel so sleep after they eat their Thanksgiving dinners is because of the tryptophan that turkey contains; however, this is only marginally true.
- SUPPORTS RELAXATION/PREMIUM GRADE: An essential amino acid that is not synthesized by the body and must be obtained by diet or supplementation.
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that is derived from several plant and animal sources. It’s considered “essential” because the body doesn’t produce tryptophan on its own, yet it’s important, as it plays a vital role in the function of several organs. After consuming tryptophan, the body absorbs it and it is converted into serotonin melatonin, hormones that promote sleep.
If you want to get a better night of sleep, you don’t need to grab a turkey leg (or cheddar cheese, egg whites, or even soybeans – all foods that actually have more tryptophan than turkey!); instead, try taking some L-tryptophan. This supplement is converted through a series of reactions that ultimately result in the synthesis of melatonin in the brain.
It also promotes the production of niacin and the synthesis of protein. For the best effects, take this supplement on an empty stomach before bed. Doing so will optimize melatonin production so that you’ll fall asleep faster and deeper.
5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) for Higher Quality Sleep
Because the body changes L-tryptophan into other metabolites, 5-hydroxytrypotphan (5-HTP) is a supplement that may be even better for promoting the production of melatonin than L-tryptophan. Furthermore, 5-HTP boosts the body’s production of serotonin, which not only helps to promote better sleep, but can also help to offset those late-night munchie cravings that you may experience. Take about 100 to 300 mg of 5-HTP about an hour before bedtime, on either a full or empty stomach.
- Supports mood and rest - We supplemented 200mg of pure 5-HTP with 20mg of SAMe and 20mg of L Tryptophan to optimize 5-HTP conversion and support stress levels in the body.
Unlike some other sleep aids 5-HTP doesn’t necessarily have to be taken exclusively at night as there are some blends that have leveraged the serotonin-boosting properties of 5-HTP for daytime use, often mixed with other nootropic ingredients to transform it into a deep cognition daytime supplement as well.
Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA) for Growth
One of the brain’s key inhibitory neurotransmitters, Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (also simply referred to as “GABA”) flips the switch, so to speak, on arousal hormones, like adrenalin, thus stopping the actions these hormones cause – like making you feel more alert and awake. Thus GABA supplements promote relaxation and sleep.
- PROMOTES A CALM, RELAXED MOOD: GABA 750mg can help support dealing with mild, occasional stress*
What’s really interesting is that serotonin, which is an intermediate of the production of melatonin, inhibits GABA. As such, for the best results, take GABA with L-tryptophan or 5-HTP. Doing so will help to stifle the effects of serotonin, thus allowing you to get a better night of rest.
Another benefit: GABA has been found to stimulate the production of growth hormones, thereby enhancing the anabolic benefits that sleep provides. For optimal results, take 5 grams of GABA about an hour before you want to hit the sack.
Melatonin for Deeper Sleep/Faster Recovery
While studies have found that 5-HTP boosts melatonin levels through the production of serotonin, it probably doesn’t produce enough to help you get a full night of rest. Instead, you can simply take a melatonin supplement by itself, or for the best results, or to really maximize the effects and get the best night of rest, you can combine 5-HTP, L-tryptophan, and melatonin together.
- ULTRA SUPPORT: Carlyle Melatonin is delivered in convenient 12 mg fast dissolve tablets
Melatonin reduces the amount of time it takes to fall into slumber. It’s also believed to promote deeper, more restorative sleep based on the functions of natural circadian rhythms. Because melatonin is naturally secreted when it’s dark, it’s best to draw the shades, turn off the lights, and shut down your phone and TV after taking it. Take up to 10 mg an hour before you plan on turning in for the night.
Best Sleep Supplements Specifically for Bodybuilders & Weightlifters
Below are some of the best supplements that contain a mixture of the abovementioned important sleep aid and recovery compounds often augmented with more muscular-support ingredients as well.
- Helps promote more efficient, restful sleep - Animal PM delivers a complete Sleep and Relaxation Complex to help you get your fullest, deepest sleep. After all, when you sleep, you grow. Each container has 30 days supply.
- Increase Endurance & Energy: Build-XT is a powerful daily muscle builder supplement for men and women and quite literally the first muscle building & recovery supplement using this unique combination of science-backed bodybuilding ingredients. Build-XT...
- SLEEP BETTER & RECOVER FASTER: If you're looking for the best post workout recovery, you've found it! Vintage Bliss is a potent natural sleep aid and nighttime recovery supplement developed for men and women who desire deep, peaceful sleep in order to...
Skinny Yoked Summary
By adding the above-mentioned supplements to your diet, you’ll have an easier time falling asleep, your sleep will be much more restorative, and you’ll see better results from your fitness routine.
Personally, we usually just keep a bottle of high quality melatonin on hand, preferably the 3mg as that seems to be the sweet spot, although others may require higher quantities. There are also a bunch of great CBD-oriented nighttime sleep aids (including CBD blankets) out there that we’ve found seem to work synergistically with melatonin to reduce inflammation and accelerate recovery.
The last dedicated bodybuilding nighttime supplement we took was Ronnie Coleman’s “Resurrect PM” which was amazing.. in flavor and effect, but that seems to have been discontinued and replaced by the abovementioned Build-XT s the go-to bodybuilding-specific sleep and recovery aid.
We’re always looking to try new things though so if you’ve found a nighttime sleep support product that has made a significant in the quality of your sleep and/or your ability to get crazy intense workouts on a consistent basis without burning out let us know in the comments below!
Last update on 2023-01-11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API