It’s no secret that the older we get, the more we struggle with sleep problems. It’s also common knowledge that our muscles get weaker as we get older. So here’s the question: Is it possible the two are connected? A new study out of Texas found that not only are they connected, but one could cause the other. And it shows that we may need to take different supplements than we traditionally do to sleep better.
In the study, the researchers found that there’s a protein in your muscles that helps the body with sleep. In fact, if you have ample amounts of this protein, not only will you sleep better, but you’ll be able to handle less sleep if you can’t get enough sleep for some reason.
This protein, called BMAL1, acts as a circadian clock and regulates both the length and quality of your sleep. The researchers found that the more BMAL1 a mouse has in its muscles, the better the mouse slept, the longer it slept, and the better it recovered from sleep deprivation. But when the researchers removed the protein from the mice’s muscles, it severely disrupted their normal sleep patterns. It also increased their need for sleep and deeper sleep. And it reduced their ability to recover from sleep deprivation.
One of the researchers said, “This finding is completely unexpected and changes the ways we think sleep is controlled.” That’s because researchers have always thought sleep control came from the brain. But this study suggests the muscles are what really control sleep.
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Body builders have known for a long time that sleep deprivation hindered their ability to build their muscles. But no one has ever gone the other direction. That’s because no one ever considered that muscles control sleep or that a drop in muscle mass might cause you to lose sleep. This is the first study that makes this connection.
If the findings of this study hold true for humans, we may see a host of new drugs for enhancing BMAL1 production. But there’s no need to wait for more studies or the drugs. If you’re not sleeping well, don’t just take a sleep aid. Poor sleep might be your body’s way of saying, “Get some exercise and build your muscles.”
However, exercise isn’t all you need to build muscle. If you exercise and don’t give your body the nutrients it needs to repair muscle, you’ll be hurting your muscles by depriving them of the nutrition they need to rebuild. So you need to eat enough protein and give your body the nutrients it needs to produce proteins like BMAL1.
It’s important to consider that big muscles aren’t the key to sleep. It’s the production of proteins that’s the key. Having healthy muscles doesn’t require you to look like a body builder. You just need to have active muscles that are fed well. So, in addition to eating protein at all three meals, make sure you’re getting enough amino acids to produce protein and build your muscles. The amino-acid product I recommend is Perfect Amino. It has a proprietary blend of amino acids that is proven to keep muscles healthy and strong. Building stronger muscles using amino acids may mean you don’t need to rely on your sleep supplements as much.
Your insider for better health,
Steve Kroening, ND.