[Houston Deck is a recent graduate of Florida Atlantic University and an Athletic Development Intern at Athletic Lab]

“……. feel like you were in a coma last night and not asleep. Anytime you can wake up and say, I feel like I had a mini death.”  This is the best anabolic sleep we could ask for.  (Parsley, 2014).

sleepLet’s take a look at the #1 overlooked supplement in the world; sleep.  But eight hours isn’t enough. The quality and how deep of a sleep we are in is what really matters. This week I will very briefly discuss the importance of sleep and its effects on our body’s hormones. I highly recommend listening to the podcast cited below for an in depth look on sleep and your bodies function.

Dr. Kirk Parsley, a health optimization physician simply puts, insufficient deep sleep means insufficient testosterone production. But why is testosterone so important? Simply put, testosterone diffuses straight to the cell wall binding to protein, goes straight into the nucleus and changes DNA expression. As a result, mRNA comes out producing more protein, receptors, energy, or whatever that specific hormone does that testosterone traveled too. So when there isn’t any deep sleep or lack of, we are committing anabolic suicide and throwing away everything we worked for that day. And if this continues, so does the vicious cycle.

But that’s not all that happens because one hormone can’t be affected without affecting them all. Growth hormone and cortisol depend on your sleep to get what it is they need to get done. A lack of sleep can affect testosterone by 30% and in turn affects growth hormone and cortisol. What does cortisol do? Very briefly, cortisol regulates stress, energy metabolism (spikes/drops in blood sugar), and immune function.  As a matter of fact, 50% of total body glucose is used by the brain to even function properly  (Leproult & Van Cauter, 2010) So, lack ofsleep affects testosterone, which in turn affects cortisol and cortisol affects glucose that the brain needs 50% to function properly, sounds like I just need a cup of coffee. A temporary solution that can cause long lasting damage.

sleep2In one of my recent blogs, I discussed caffeine and the ergogenic benefits, reliance however can be dangerous. We need to be able to shut our adrenal system down at night to recharge and recover, something caffeine can prevent.  As previously stated, sleep and deep sleep are two entirely different games and we need to make sure we are playing the right one. When we workout we produce ATP. A byproduct of ATP is adenosine. Adenosine increases our sleep pressure. Increased sleep pressure results in more sleep cycles and more testosterone! If caffeine is taking away our pressure to sleep we aren’t recharging our adrenal system that results in another cup of coffee on top of what we had yesterday until now we are not only always tired but we are robbing our self from being able to sleep deeply. Ironically, we always feel tired because we can’t sleep so in turn we drink caffeine that keeps us from deep sleeping. A + B = C.

Dr. Parsley examined sleep deprived navy seals and their testosterone was in the bottom 10%. These men are in their 20’s with testosterone levels of 60+ adults! He said after prescribing more sleep they increased testosterone levels by 300% (Parsley, 2014). How important does your training mean to you? If importance of training is high, so should your sleep. ‘You can’t out train a bad diet.’ Correct but think of it this way, how long can you go without food before dying? Almost a month’s worth. How long can you go without sleep? Just 3 days can cause hallucination and studies believe around 14 is the breaking point. How many hours of sleep have you charged to your bodies credit card? Don’t get caught in sleep debt.