STRESSED OUT! CHILL OUT! FOR BETTER SLEEP
By Robert Schinetsky
Sleep plays a critical role in our ability to train hard, recover efficiently, and get results from our time spent in the gym. More importantly, though, sleep is also essential for optimal health and wellness.
Unfortunately, many individuals (perhaps even you) struggle with consistently getting quality sleep.
Beyond hindering recovery and progress in the gym, not getting enough sleep is also known to:
- Disrupt energy metabolism
- Reduce insulin sensitivity
- Decrease protein synthesis
- Increase protein breakdown
- Reduce feelings of satiety
- Increase hunger and cravings
- Reduce cognitive function
- Lower mood
- Decrease motivation to exercise
- Increase cortisol levels
- Promote fat storage
Research has also shown that insufficient sleep is associated with unhealthy lifestyle habits, including skipping breakfast, fast food consumption, increased screen time and being overweight/obese.
So, if we know that sleep is important as well as the litany of deleterious outcomes that accompany not getting enough sleep, why is it that so many individuals struggle to get enough quality sleep on a regular basis?
There’s a number of reasons, but two of the most common ones are stress and blue light exposure.
How Stress Affects Sleep
Stress is a physical and psychological reaction to challenges in life.
While stress often gets a bad rap, the truth is that not all forms of stress are bad. For instance, resistance training and other forms of intense physical activity are a type of beneficial stress that builds muscle & strength, promotes cardiometabolic health, and makes the body more resilient.
When stress goes “bad” is when it’s chronic.
During chronic stress, cortisol levels remain elevated and the body never gets an opportunity to return to homeostasis. This creates a metabolic maelstrom that leads to many of the unwanted effects we discussed above.
Chronic stress can also lead to:
- Mood disorders such as anxiety and depression
- Panic attacks
- Digestive issues
Complicating the matter even further is that stress and sleep have a two-way relationship in that being stressed can lead to sleep loss and, on the flip side, not getting enough sleep can increase stress.
For example, being stressed can increase how long it takes to fall asleep, and individuals with higher levels of stress are also more likely to experience insomnia.
Being stressed can also cause you to wake up more in the middle of the night.
Fortunately a combination of healthy habits and the right supplements can help reduce stress, enabling you to achieve deeper, more restorative sleep at night (more on that in a moment).
How Blue Light Affects Sleep
Blue light is a portion of the visible light spectrum that contains short wavelengths of high intensity energy. It’s known to possess unique effects on alertness, hormone production, and sleep cycles.
Light, in general, plays a key role in setting our circadian rhythm, and for most of human existence, we relied on natural light sources to set our sleep-wake cycle. As times evolved, we’ve come to rely more and more on artificial light sources, and while this affords us many conveniences and luxuries in life, it’s not without its own drawbacks.
For instance, blue light stimulates regions of the brain that make us feel alert, thus increasing our heart rate and body temperature. Light therapy, including using blue light, has also been found to help realign the body’s circadian rhythms, thereby improving sleep.
Furthermore, blue light exposure during the day can also improve performance and attention.
So, much like not all stress is inherently bad, exposure to blue light isn’t bad in and of itself, it does serve a very important purpose.
However, where blue light exposure goes “bad” is when it occurs at the wrong time of day, namely in the hours preceding sleep.
Blue light exposure reduces secretion of melatonin -- the hormone responsible for setting the sleep-wake cycle -- decreasing delta/theta activity, and increases the time it takes to fall asleep (sleep latency).[5,9]
Essentially, being exposed to blue light in the evening can prevent the brain from “powering down” for the night, disrupting circadian rhythm, and keeping you awake and feeling alert instead of tired.
This invariably disrupts sleep and can cause misalignment of circadian rhythm, which is known to lead to metabolic disorders and mental health conditions, including depression.
In fact, previous research gives evidence that a single night of light exposure during sleep acutely impacts measures of insulin resistance.
Newly published research in Scientific Reports tested the effects of three different light sources on individuals 4 hours before sleep. The three sources tested were LED lights, OLED lights, and “dim” light.
OLED (organic light-emitting diodes) produce less blue light than traditional LED lights and researchers were investigating how exposure to either one in the hours before bed affective various metabolic responses.
At the end of the study, researchers noted that following OLED exposure, energy expenditure and core body temperature during sleep were significantly decreased. Individuals exposed to OLED also had higher rates of fat oxidation (fat burning) than after exposure to LED lights.
Common sources of blue light include:
- Computer screens / laptops
- TVsFluorescent lights
- LED lights
- Handheld video game consoles
How to Get Better Sleep
There’s seemingly no end to the benefits of regular exercise.
It builds muscle, improves mood, promotes cardiometabolic health, and it can even help you sleep better at night!
Research in the The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness documents that individuals with higher aerobic fitness levels get more sleep each night and feel more rested the next morning.
A 2017 systematic review also noted that “exercise promoted increased sleep efficiency and duration regardless of the mode and intensity of activity, especially in populations suffering from disease.”
This is all the more important when you factor in the considerable number of unhealthy individuals there are. Exercise in just about any way, shape, or form can help you sleep better. Find something you enjoy doing (resistance training, HIIT, CrossFit, steady-state cardio, hiking, etc.), and DO IT!
Limit Blue Light Exposure
The simplest way to limit blue light exposure in the evening is to simply turn off your devices. If that’s not a realistic option, there are several other things you can do to limit the amount of blue light to which your body is exposed.
For instance, you can wear blue light blockers in the evening when watching TV or working. You can also adjust the settings on your smartphone, tablet, and TV to decrease blue light emissions.
Another option is to set an alarm to go off 2-3 hours before bed so that you can be more cognizant of your blue light exposure.
Optimize Your Sleeping Environment
In addition to setting the stage for a productive night’s rest, the actual room in which you sleep needs to be set up properly to ensure as solid a night’s sleep as possible.
For starters, keep your room cool. Most sleep experts recommend keeping your room temperature somewhere in the range of 60-72℉.
You also want to make your room as dark as possible by removing unnecessary lights or other electronics, placing black-out curtains on the windows, and/or wearing an eye mask, if necessary.
If you live in an area with noise (loud neighbors, near a railroad or airport, snoring bed partner, etc.), you may want to invest in earplugs or a white noise machine, which can make it easier to doze off.
Lastly, make sure your mattress and sheets are in good standing. The Better Sleep Council recommends that mattresses should be replaced after 5 to 7 years, though many individuals choose to replace them after 10 years. If you find major depressions or pressure points in your mattress, it’s time for an upgrade. You also want your sheets and bedtime clothing to be loose and comfortable.
Work on Stress Management
Take time each night to destress before bed. Whether it’s turning off all the electronics and reading a book, meditating, praying, or journaling, find some way to unplug (literally) from the chaos of the day and relax.
Use the Right Supplements
In addition to all of the healthy lifestyle habits mentioned above, certain supplements are known to help reduce feelings of stress and improve sleep.
At the top of the list is melatonin -- the hormone that dictates the sleep-wake cycle. In addition to sleep, melatonin is involved in regulating blood pressure and vascular function, and it may help alleviate viral respiratory disorders.
Naturally produced in the pineal gland, melatonin binds to melatonin receptors which are found all over the body, including skeletal muscle, adipose tissue (fat), the liver, and pancreatic islets. As we mentioned above though, excess exposure to blue light in the hours immediately preceding sleep can impair melatonin production.
Supplementing with melatonin has been shown to be effective for improving sleep quality and decreasing sleep latency.[13,14] Newly published research also indicates that adjuvant use of melatonin (9mg melatonin) has a potential to improve clinical symptoms of COVID-19 patients.
To top it off, previous research indicates that melatonin supplementation may help reduce body weight and abdominal fat independent of calorie restriction or increased physical activity.[15,16,17]
AML Calming Cocktail contains a research-supported dose of 10mg of melatonin in every full serving.†
But, melatonin isn’t the only supplement noted to improve sleep outcomes.†
Ashwagandha and L-Theanine are two other natural ingredients that are known to help reduce stress, promote feelings of calmness, and support healthy sleep. †[18,19,20]
Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is another supplement that can help promote relaxation and support better sleep. As you may know, GABA is the body’s primary inhibitory (“downer”) neurotransmitter that counters the actions of glutamate, the body’s main excitatory neurotransmitter. Increased GABA levels may help slow down the firing of brain cells, thereby promoting a state of calmness and relaxation.†
Human research notes that GABA supplementation may serve as an effective natural relaxant, comparable to that of L-Theanine (another ingredient found in AML Calming Cocktail.
Most sleep support supplements on the market include one or two of these ingredients. While that may be helpful, AML Calming Cocktail contains a precise blend of complementary ingredients including:
The ingredients are combined in their research-backed dosages to make AML Calming Cocktail superior option than isolated melatonin supplementation (or any other nighttime relaxation aid/sleep support supplement for that matter).†
AML Calming Cocktail contains natural, non-habit forming ingredients that won’t leave you feeling groggy or “hungover” in the morning. Calming Cocktail is NOT a prescription medication or drug, some of which have actually been shown to impair sleep.†
Calming Cocktail is the result of countless hours of R&D to deliver to athletes an advanced sleep aid to support the rigors of their daily life.†
© Published by Advanced Research Media, Inc., 2021
© Reprinted with permission from Advanced Research Media, Inc.
† These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
- , T. K., B., P. D., Glyceria, P., & S., S. L. (2021). Insufficient Sleep Duration Is Associated With Dietary Habits, Screen Time, and Obesity in Children. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 14(10), 1689–1696. https://doi.org/10.5664/jcsm.7374
- Kim EJ, Dimsdale JE. The effect of psychosocial stress on sleep: a review of polysomnographic evidence. Behav Sleep Med. 2007;5(4):256-78. doi: 10.1080/15402000701557383. PMID: 17937582; PMCID: PMC4266573.
- Vandewalle G, Maquet P, Dijk DJ. Light as a modulator of cognitive brain function. Trends Cogn Sci. 2009 Oct;13(10):429-38. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2009.07.004. Epub 2009 Sep 12. PMID: 19748817.
- Gooley JJ. Treatment of circadian rhythm sleep disorders with light. Ann Acad Med Singap. 2008 Aug;37(8):669-76. PMID: 18797560.
- Lockley SW, Brainard GC, Czeisler CA. High sensitivity of the human circadian melatonin rhythm to resetting by short wavelength light. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2003 Sep;88(9):4502-5. doi: 10.1210/jc.2003-030570. PMID: 12970330.
- Jagannath A, Taylor L, Wakaf Z, Vasudevan SR, Foster RG. The genetics of circadian rhythms, sleep and health. Hum Mol Genet. 2017 Oct 1;26(R2):R128-R138. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddx240. PMID: 28977444; PMCID: PMC5886477.
- I Mason, D Grimaldi, R G Malkani, K J Reid, P C Zee, 0117 Impact of Light Exposure during Sleep on Cardiometabolic Function, Sleep, Volume 41, Issue suppl_1, April 2018, Page A46, https://doi.org/10.1093/sleep/zsy061.116
- Asuka Ishihara, Insung Park, Yoko Suzuki, Katsuhiko Yajima, Huiyun Cui, Masashi Yanagisawa, Takeshi Sano, Junji Kido, Kumpei Tokuyama. Metabolic responses to polychromatic LED and OLED light at night. Scientific Reports, 2021; 11 (1) DOI:1038/s41598-021-91828-6
- Chang, A. M., Aeschbach, D., Duffy, J. F. & Czeisler, C. A. Evening use of light-emitting eReaders negatively affects sleep, circadian timing, and next-morning alertness. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 112, 1232–1237 (2015).
- Avery K. Ironside et al, Associations of physical fitness and physical activity with sleep among middle-aged women, The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness (2020). DOI: 10.23736/s0022-4707.20.10976-9
- Dolezal BA, Neufeld EV, Boland DM, Martin JL, Cooper CB. Interrelationship between Sleep and Exercise: A Systematic Review [published correction appears in Adv Prev Med. 2017;2017:5979510]. Adv Prev Med. 2017;2017:1364387. doi:10.1155/2017/1364387
- Farnoosh G, Akbariqomi M, Badri T, et al. Efficacy of a Low Dose of Melatonin as an Adjunctive Therapy in Hospitalized Patients with COVID-19: A Randomized, Double-blind Clinical Trial [published online ahead of print, 2021 Jun 23]. Arch Med Res. 2021;S0188-4409(21)00141-7. doi:10.1016/j.arcmed.2021.06.006
- lomski A. Melatonin Improves Sleep in Patients With Circadian Disruption. JAMA. 2018;320(8):749. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.10903
- Sletten TL, Magee M et al. Efficacy of melatonin with behavioral sleep-wake scheduling for delayed sleep-wake phase disorder: A double blind, randomized clinical trial (2018). Efficacy of melatonin with behavioral sleep-wake scheduling for delayed sleep-wake phase disorder: A double blind, randomized clinical trial. PLOS Medicine 15(6): e1002587. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1002587
- Halpern, B., Mancini, M. C., Bueno, C., Barcelos, I. P., Edna de Melo, M., Lima, M. S., Cipolla-Neto, J. (2019). Melatonin Increases Brown Adipose Tissue Volume and Activity in Melatonin Deficient Patients: a Proof-of-Concept Study. Diabetes, db180956. https://doi.org/10.2337/db18-0956
- Wolden-Hanson T, Mitton DR, et al. Daily melatonin administration to middle-aged male rats suppresses body weight, intra abdominal adiposity, and plasma leptin and insulin independent of food intake and total body fat. Endocrinology 2000; 141, 487-497.
- Tan DX, Manchester LC, et al. Significance and application of melatonin in the regulation of brown adipose tissue metabolism: relation to human obesity.Obes Rev 2011; 12, 167-188.
- Chandrasekhar K, Kapoor J, Anishetty S. A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults. Indian J Psychol Med. 2012;34(3):255–262. doi:10.4103/0253-7176.106022
- Kimura K, Ozeki M, et al. L-Theanine reduces psychological and physiological stress responses. Biol Psychol 2007; 74, 39-45.
- Lyon MR, Kapoor MP and Juneja LR. The effects of L-theanine (Suntheanine(R)) on objective sleep quality in boys with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Altern Med Rev 2011; 16, 348-354.