As sleeping is very important for testosterone production, one might want to improve one’s sleep quality or duration of it if that is lacking.
You need at least 8 hours of sleep to prevent neuro-behavioral deficits, as only 6 hours of sleep will cause sleep deprivation. (1)
Studies show that over eight hours of sleep (up to 10 hours of sleep), improves performance and mood. (2)
Growth hormone is released during slow wave sleep (SWS). SWS is the anabolic phase of sleep when you’re in that good deep state of sleep. So you want to optimize SWS.
Sleep deprivation is definitely not a good thing, as it reduces the quality of SWS.
Sleep deprivation negatively affects the following:
- learning, memory, cognition (3, 4, 5)
- pain perception (6)
- immunity and inflammation (7, 8)
- protein synthesis, testosterone and IGF-1 (thus slower muscle building ability) (9, 10)
- serotonin receptor sensitivity (thus less dopamine and more serotonin and greater chance for depression) (11) Boosting dopamine is a must for higher testosterone and happiness.
Some people just need to prioritize better and sleep more, while others have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.
Fortunately there are a few ways to improve your sleep quality…
Eating a meal high in protein (>100g) before bed can induce restlessness, but eating a diet high in protein throughout the day will improve sleep quality at night. (12, 13) I aim for about 100g protein a day minimum.
A non-essential amino acid which functions as an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system, which helps you sleep, is anti-anxiety, lowers cortisol, increase DHT and boosts your growth hormone. (14) Glycine is most abundant in gelatin. You can start with 3g glycine before bed.
- Glycine – 1000mg per cap, 100 caps
Tryptophan is an amino acid that increases the production of serotonin. And serotonin is a precursor to melatonin. (15) Melatonin is the hormone produced in the brain that helps you to sleep. Low levels of serotonin is associated with reduced sleep quality. However high serotonin is also associated with restlessness, bad dreams, poor sleep and low testosterone.
Tryptophan has a mild sedative effect, which also impacts sleeping positively. (16)
Protein is one of the richest sources of trytophan, but then again, there is many other large neutral amino acids competing with tryptophan for uptake in the brain, such as tyrosine, phenylalanine, BCAAs, etc…
I would not go supplementing with tryptophan, but rather stick to the ‘eat enough protein’ guideline.
A meal high in carbs, about 130g before bed time, increases REM and sleep quality, as well as significantly shorter sleep latencies. (19, 20) High GI simple carbs work best when eaten an hour before going to bed or it might keep you awake due to providing energy for the system.
This works because when insulin rises, it makes muscle tissue take up amino acid from the blood, except tryptophan. Tryptophan then spikes in the brain and increases serotonin production. This effect is offset when you add as little as 4% of those calories as protein, to provide enough competing amino acids.
This tactic, to eat only sugary foods to spike serotonin, might be one way of getting you to sleep, but this might only work for a few hours and then you wake up in the middle of the night, unable to go back to sleep. Plus you’ll feel groggy too. So this is not a tactic that I would advise.
Valerian is a herb with sedative properties, used and thoroughly backed up with long term studies. (21)
Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb, which lowers your cortisol and increases testosterone. It is also used to improve thyroid function, increase sleep quality as well as over all health, and it can even increase strength. More on ashwagandha here…
c) Tea + L-theanine
Drinking tea before bed helps a lot of people sleep peacefully, especially chamomile tea.
The L-Theanine found in tea shows to improve slow wave sleep, and it also lower cortisol. (22) Actually, I would just skip the tea and get myself some L-theanine, as the amount in tea is not as much as in a supplement, plus you don’t fill your bladder with fluid before bed that way.
Other teas that also aid with sleep:
- Passionflower tea (23)
- Chamomile tea has a hypnotic effect, which promotes sleep.
- Pine needles in tea (as done in China) (24)
6) Lactobacillus helveticus
Found in fermented milk/yogurt, and is also found in cheese, can also improve sleep quality. (25) Cheese protein is also mainly casein which has a relaxing effect on the body.
7) Avoid caloric deficit
Sleep quality can be disturbed when in a caloric deficit, as being in a caloric deficit can be stressful to the body. This is partly due to higher cortisol and adrenaline. (26)
8) Lose the fat
Exercise has some of the widest range of benefits. It’s probably one of the best things to invest your time in. But for the sake of this post, exercise improves sleep quality. (28) People should be aware though that exercise can actually be more harmful than beneficial to some, as it stresses and already stressed body, and will just drive cortisol, inflammation etc higher. Some people find it better to exercise in the morning, as it promotes anxiety at night, due to blood sugar crashes.
10) Tart cherry juice
A sour but healthy drink with a lot of health benefits has shown to increase melatonin in the brain. (29) And melatonin (as mentioned earlier) helps you sleep.
11) Kiwi fruit
This study shows that individuals who ate 2 kiwi fruit 1 hour before bed reduced the time before they fell asleep significantly and improved their sleep duration. It could be due to the vitamin C as kiwis are a great source of vitamin C.
Magnesium is also showed to improve sleep quality if one has a deficiency in this mineral. (30) Magnesium also aids in muscle relaxation, which can be very beneficial against tension headaches/anxiety etc… It works similar to glycine as it inhibits excitatory neurotransmitters and lowers cortisol and serotonin, is anti-anxiety, aids in excreting estrogen from the body, increases testosterone etc… More on magnesium here…
13) Avoid artificial light
Don’t use artificial lights an hour or two before bed (blue lights). If you have no other choice, due to work, use blue blocker glasses.
Be mentally calm (don’t plan about tomorrow, let tomorrow worry about itself). Mental stress is nervous stress which eats up your nutrients and can result in shallow sleep and waking up at night being hungry.
Also don’t use technology or watch TV one to two hours before bed, but rather read a book or engage in relaxed conversation with someone
15) Sleep before 11pm
Go to bed earlier (before 11pm as that’s when your cortisol increases).
16) Room & sleep requirements
a) Sleep in a pitch dark room
b) Use ear plugs if you are in a noisy neighborhood
c) Try to get EMF blocker screens, that block all the wifi signals in your environment as those signals will also interfere with your sleep and prevent proper sleep.
d) Sleep in a room cooler than your body temperature (as being too warm can also negatively influence your sleep) I usually sleep the best in winter weather.
17) Don’t drink too much liquid
Ornithine is an amino acid, which is also anti-anxiety, and significantly increases feelings of well-being, reduces anger, lowers cortisol and has a very positive impact of sleep quality. More on ornithine here…
My recipe for great sleep
Eat a well balanced diet. Shut off all technology at about 7 pm. Eat a meal before bed. Make sure room is pitch dark, yet have ventilation for clean air. Cover myself just right so I’m not too hot or cold.
Try this beverage and supplements before bed tonight:
- 2/3 cup of warm milk + 1 tsp honey
- 200-400mg magnesium
- 3g glycine
- 300mg Ashwagandha
- 200mg Theanine
Hope this post is of great help to you. If it is, please remember to like and share.