Momentous Sleep: The Three Ingredients for Higher Quality Recovery
When we look at all the protocols that can improve performance and facilitate recovery, the simplest and most foundational element always rises to the top — Sleep. While most can agree on the importance of sleep for high performance in our day-to-day lives and physical pursuits, it’s also something many of us don’t get enough of.
It would seem like common sense that you need to prioritize nighttime recovery. And yet we have a veritable sleeplessness epidemic on our hands. At least 35 percent of Americans get less than seven hours of sleep a night, with the national average hovering right around 6.8 hours. This is a stark contrast to a century ago, when the typical adult got nine hours a night. Since 1985, the percentage of people getting less than six hours, which many sleep experts consider the baseline for adequate rest that will keep major bodily functions in check, has increased by a whopping 35 percent. Today, almost two out of every 10 people have a persistent sleep disorder.
The Tumultuous Relationship Between Athletes and Sleep
Most of us have had to push through a workout or fought to keep pace on a run while we were really tired — those days can leave us feeling especially depleted. That’s because to maintain the same output as usual is more taxing at a cellular level when you’re sleep deprived – the exact opposite of efficiency. A classic study conducted by British researchers suggests that compromised sleep limits strength and power. Three days of sleep restriction led to declines in three lifts: maximal bench press, leg press, and deadlift. Sleep deprivation doesn’t just compromise gross motor skills, but also fine ones that impact technique. Stanford University basketball players who went through a seven-week sleep extension program upped their three-point accuracy by 9% and free throw shooting by 9.2%.
One of the reasons that athletes struggle to get enough high-quality sleep is their schedules. Whether it’s early and late practices during two-a-days in pre-season camp, road trips by road or air, or evening games, scheduling introduces random variations that can disrupt even the strictest sleep schedule. And a study published earlier this year suggested that even when rugby players keep a consistent bedtime, their sleep onset is significantly delayed after a match. This is likely due to the cascade of adrenaline, noradrenaline, and other hormones that flood your system when you train or play at night. A paper released in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance noted that elevated levels of these neurochemicals after nighttime games led to hyperarousal that resulted in players experiencing reduced sleep efficiency, more frequent awakenings, and lower subjective sleep quality.
If a player is overtraining, stressed out by media scrutiny, poor performances, or family problems, stuck in a hectic game schedule, or all of the above, their cortisol level can spike and stay elevated, further compromising sleep quality. A research team from the Australian Institute of Sport noted the disruptive impact of pre-game nerves, writing, “Although an athlete may not be classed as a problematic sleeper on a day-to-day basis, sleep complaints may arise around competition periods.”
Another challenge is crossing time zones during international travel or cross-country trips that disrupt sleep patterns by altering circadian rhythms. Jet lag is a drag for everyone, but for athletes, it can be catastrophic. Bright fluorescents on the plane and in the airport expose travelers to extra blue light, in addition to in-flight movies, tablets, phones, and hotel TV. Once an individual starts worrying about not falling asleep quickly, this anxiety can make it even harder to drift off, perpetuating the problem. As a study published in Frontiers in Physiology noted, the two problems of inadequate sleep and sickness can converge when traveling. Those who get sick on the plane have even greater difficulty sleeping, which further depresses their immune system and can increase the duration and severity of the illness.
3 Potent Ingredients for Better Sleep Quality & Recovery
Not content with merely producing the purest and most efficacious whey and plant-based protein on the planet, we’re determined to help everyone from recreational to pro athletes overcome barriers to optimal performance and recovery.
So we turned to our Performance Engineers and developed a potent sleep supplement that would meet their players’ exact needs. At the top of the list was a combination of all-natural ingredients that are scientifically proven to be effective. We conducted extensive R+D, and settled on a blend of melatonin, Magtein®, and wild jujube seed extract. Here’s why we included each one:
While many ingredients used in other products make unsubstantiated claims, melatonin is the most heavily researched sleep-promoting chemical. It has been shown to encourage fast sleep onset and reduce insomnia. While the brain naturally releases melatonin from the pineal gland in response to darkness, our overly-lit homes, continual use of electronic devices, and irregular work, practice, and game schedules can disrupt this, which is why a supplement can help restore a normal sleep pattern. Unlike some sleep supplements that can come on hard and fast, melatonin can help ease you into drifting off.
A paper in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism demonstrated that melatonin increases restorative REM sleep, while another study found that it reduces the incidence and severity of nighttime disturbances. Athletes can also use melatonin strategically before and during travel to help adjust their sleep patterns. Maintaining the delicate balance between melatonin and magnesium levels is paramount to ensuring deep slumber, and Momentous Sleep contains precisely formulated amounts of both.
This is the only form of magnesium proven to cross the blood-brain barrier, which is crucial in encouraging cognitive health. Cognitive health is important as it covers a range of conditions including sleep disorders, stress, anxiety management and others. Magnesium is essential to ensuring all the neurochemicals that regulate the body’s sleep-wake cycle are in balance. A comprehensive study tested Magtein™ and several other kinds of magnesium and found that it was the only kind that significantly elevated participants’ cerebrospinal fluid magnesium concentration, indicating that it increased brain levels of magnesium.
Wild-Harvested Jujube Seeds
These small, brightly colored powerhouses have been used by cultures across the globe as a traditional medicine panacea for insomnia and anxiety. Native to the southern US, Australia, Asia, and southern Europe, jujube seeds have been found to stimulate the release of GABA and serotonin, two neurotransmitters that promote restful sleep. A team of Chinese scientists discovered that jujube also reduces excitation within the hippocampus, calming the brain. They believe that this is due to the high levels of two kinds of phytochemicals – flavonoids and saponin – that have anti-anxiety effects. Flavonoids have also been found to increase the time spent in the SWS (slow wave sleep) and REM (rapid eye movement) phases of sleep, while saponins have a mild sedative effect on the nervous system. The combination of both have been found to increase overall sleep time in animal studies.
All Set for Better Sleep
Once we’d settled on this potent trifecta of ingredients and had our athletes test it, we followed our usual uncompromising quality control protocol and submitted Momentous Sleep to the rigorous evaluation of the NSF Certified for Sport® program. The end result? A unique formula that promotes longer, higher-quality sleep, night after night. So even if you struggle with nighttime stress and anxiety, face sleep disruption from travel, or find it hard to wind down after late practices or games, you can still get a good night’s rest and be ready to give your best the next day.