The Importance of Sleep on Testosterone

The training season is now in full swing which means I am back to being constantly busy. Every year this happens and every year I find myself looking for ways to add extra hours to my day. Typically for me this is accomplished by staying up an extra hour or two and getting up an hour or two earlier. Thing is, most people I know do the exact same thing when they are busy. Who needs sleep when there is work to be done, right?

What most of us do not realize (I’ll admit, I’m guilty of this too) is that sleep is extremely important in our lives. If we do not spend enough time in deep sleep we cannot recovery mentally or physically. Our creativity, productiveness, and physical performance suffer due to lack of sleep. As an athlete it is extremely important to get the correct amount of sleep. Sleep is when our body recovers after a training session or competition, and it is during sleep that we actually make our gains (i.e. increase the weight we can squat). Among the many reasons why athletes needs sleep, maybe the most important is that sleep is when testosterone is produced. Testosterone is the all important hormone that allows us as athletes to be a fierce competitor. It creates the inner drive we feel before a competition, and it plays an important role in muscular development. Without proper sleep, testosterone levels suffer, and so does performance.

Below is a video of a podcast done by the guys at Barbell Shrugged. In it, they feature Dr. Kirk Parsley, a bad ass Navy Seal who is also a genius when it comes to sleep. It’s a bit lengthy, but I promise its worth the hour. It can get into the weeds a bit with physiologic references, so in case you feel lost, I’ve added a quick synopsis on the main points the podcast talks about. I implore you to watch the podcast first, then go over the main points as a summary. Also, check out the other great stuff the boys at Barbell Shrugged have here, as they talk to some pretty awesome people.

  1. Good quality sleep produces high melatonin levels
    1. Good quality being super deep sleep, as in “I just died for 6 hours” deep
  1. Increase recovery during sleep by ridding diet of inflammatory pieces, consuming adequate protein and fat
    1. Adequate fat is more often higher than what you would think
  1. Supplements can help increase testosterone production
    1. Zinc block estradiol production
    2. DHEA increases testosterone production
  1. Workouts can help increase testosterone
    1. Intermittent lactic acid heavy workouts causes Growth Hormone spikes
    2. Heavy lifting causes testosterone spike
  1. Sleep Better by
    1. Reduce stress levels
    2. Supplement with D3 and Zinc
    3. Can supplement with melatonin, but very small doses ~ 300 micrograms
    4. Make a sleep “cocktail” – D3, tryptophan, 5HTP, Magnesium, Melatonin
  1. Napping
    1. 20 minute nap restores creativity
      1. 30-45 minute nap restores executive function
    2. 90 minute nap gives you full sleep cycle
      1. Full cognitive restoration
      2. Anabolic state

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