Testosterone is anabolic. Insulin is even more powerful for rebuilding. But any Coach in the know will tell you that sleep- quality restorative sleep is one of the quickest ways to build much muscle and great health (digestive support close behind).
The essence of steroids is accelerated recuperation - the ability to make every workout great and train more frequently. Investing in sleep quality is the natural trainee's closest answer to maximizing workout outcome.
Clearly many of the sleep protocols are already established:
• Magnesium (esp. glycinate)
• Dark room
• Avoiding blue light near bed
• Driving down cortisol near bedtime (think raise insulin)
• A cool sleeping circumstance . .
But often, even with the best of efforts, we benefit from herbs noted for their support of sleep. Skullcap is a Native American plant, the dried leaves,stems and roots are used as an herbal supplement and in teas to treat anxiety, stress and insomnia.
Skullcap extracts contain large amounts of flavonoids, including scutellarin and baicalin, which are believed to be the active components accounting for its sedative and antispasmodic activity. It is the flavonoid compounds that can act as gamma amino butyric acid (GABA) agonists similar to the benzodiazepines but without the addictive properties often an issue in synthetic pharmaceuticals.
GABA, is the chief inhibitory neurotransmitter responsible for relieving anxiety, improving mood, reducing symptoms of (PMS), and treating (ADHD). It is also used for promoting lean muscle growth, burning fat, stabilizing blood pressure, and relieving pain. Needless to say, maintaining optimal GABA levels are of key interest to all hard training athletes.
Skullcap is also known as an adaptogen. An herb that can buffer extremes of stress's effect on our physiology. We keep our optimal "homeostasis" even in the face of workout intensities and volumes that would typically affect subsequent workouts' performance outcomes. One of the ways it does this is by controlling the conversion of cortisone to cortisol- which we clearly do not want to walk around with chronically elevated.
Clearly the best time to use skullcap would be pre-bed as an adjunct to sleep protocols. In the hierarchy of sleep support it would follow optimizing your physical environment, limiting exposure to light or EMF and other environmental sleep disruptors and maintaining optimal Magnesium levels.
ATP's new OPTISOM 3.0 is a terrific supplement containing both extracts of the leaves and roots ensuring a flavonoid content of merit. I like to use 2 caps Mon-Fri and take weekends off to ensure I maintain sensitivity to the herbs used ( or Sunday thru Thursday given we tend to stay up late Fri/ Sat and struggle Sunday nights dwelling on work, etc.).
Optimize your sleep quality and you lend better outcomes to your workouts and great health !
Much love from the Coach.
All the best,
Why I like Skullcap