Sleep is the foundation of every process in your body, from your ability to make mental and emotional connections and make appropriate decisions to your digestion to your ability to recover from exercise.
Sleep is when the vast majority of the growth hormone your body produces is released, which is important for everybody, especially if you’re over 40.
The sex steroid hormones; testosterone, and estrogen, peak for most people in their 20s or early 30s.
The reason that’s important to understand is because when those hormones decrease, we rely more and more on growth hormone for recovery.
That’s why it feels like it takes longer to recover from workouts or recreational activities that used to feel easy when you were in your 20s.
You don’t have the same resources.
Not only that, but sleep deprivation can also decrease the level of sex steroid hormones as well, especially for males.
So what do you do?
Here are a few no-cost or very low-cost strategies to help you optimize your sleep for growth hormone production and a few others to help with sleep in general.
Growth hormone-specific practices
Consistent bedtime- Growth hormone is mostly released during slow-wave sleep at the end of the night. However, its release only occurs if you’re asleep within about an hour of your regular bedtime. In other words, if you stay up late, it better be worth it.
Avoid eating before bedtime- Elevated blood sugar decreases the release of growth hormone. This means you want to avoid eating for at least 1 hour before bed if at all possible.
General sleep practices
Consistent wake time- The more consistent your sleep and wake times, the easier it is for your body to maintain a 24-hour rhythm and optimize sleep naturally.
Cool dark room- Your body temperature needs to drop about 1 degree Fahrenheit in order to fall asleep. Setting your environment up to facilitate this should be a no-brainer.
Avoid screens before bed- Light is one of the primary ways your body synchs itself with the earth. Screens before bedtime cue your body that it’s “daytime” and to stay awake which reduces the amount of melatonin, the sleep hormone, that your body releases. Get off screens at least 1 hour before bed.
Sunlight- Viewing sunlight first thing in the morning and in the evening as the sun goes down leverages your body's ability to synch up with the 24-hour cycle of the earth. It helps ensure that hormones like cortisol, adrenaline, and melatonin are all released at the right times during the day.
Sleep is powerful, so powerful that if it were a drug, it would be illegal due to the unfair advantage it would give those who used it over everyone else in the world.
Lucky for you, it’s not a drug, it’s not illegal, and it’s absolutely free.