Dwayne N. Jackson, PhD
In an effort to optimize physiological function, the body strives to regulate 24-hour sleep-wake cycles via circadian rhythms (internal clocks). The release of melatonin, a naturally occurring hormone from the pineal gland (in the brain), helps to synchronize sleep and wake cycles to the body’s circadian rhythms. We all know that sleep is essential to athletic performance, but it cannot be overstated that getting consistent and adequate deep sleep is the single best recovery strategy for athletes. As well, sleep deprivation has been repeatedly shown to negatively affect aerobic and anaerobic exercise performance.
Many behaviours (commonly carried out by athletes) can shift the body’s internal clocks—these include intense exercise, late-night meals, and long-distance travel. Since athletes are at particularly high risk of messing up their circadian rhythms, then many also run the risk effects of sleep deprivation, especially prior to important competitions.
Melatonin behaves as the body’s “circadian rhythms synchronizer”, and is commonly taken as a supplement to resynchronize messed-up circadian rhythms. However, up to recently, there have been very few studies aimed at investigating the effectiveness of melatonin supplementation on sleep patterns in resistance-trained athletes. A recent placebo-controlled study published in Chronobiology International tested the effect of melatonin supplementation (100mg/day) on the circadian system in resistance-trained athletes. For four weeks, volunteers (undergoing regular intensive weight training) were treated with either melatonin or placebo 30-minutes before bed. Daily rhythm of salivary melatonin was measured before and after melatonin administration. As well, measures of circadian rhythms such as wrist temperature, motor activity, and body position rhythmicity were recorded during the week before and after melatonin or placebo treatment.
The researchers reported that melatonin supplementation positively altered daily waveforms of wrist temperature, activity and position. Taken together, the data illustrate that melatonin not only adjusts the circadian clock but also to improves the efficiency of sleep-wake cycle in athletes.
ACTION POINT: According to this latest research, you must take relatively high doses of melatonin to modify sleep-wake cycle. Based on this study, take 100 mg of melatonin 30-60 minutes prior to hitting the sack. This dose has been deemed to be well-tolerated and safe in other studies.
Leonardo-Mendonça RC, Martinez-Nicolas A, de Teresa Galván C, Ocaña-Wilhelmi J, Rusanova I, Guerra-Hernández E, Escames G, Acuña-Castroviejo D. The benefits of four weeks of melatonin treatment on circadian patterns in resistance-trained athletes. Chronobiol Int. 2015 Oct;32(8):1125-34.
Protect your joints
You have managed to stick with your fitness goals all winter and now summer is just around the corner. Call it Murphy’s Law, aging, or just wear and tear but this is generally when joint pain rears its ugly head— limiting your workout intensity and abolishing your chances of being in the best shape of your life in summer 2016.
One research-backed way to naturally circumvent joint pain is to take a glucosamine-based joint protection supplement. Although there is a ton of support for glucosamine supplements for pain and inflammation, recent research published in Clinical Interventions in Aging shows that taking a glucosamine-based supplement improves functional outcomes too. In this randomized and double-blind placebo-controlled study, subjects (with knee pain) who received a daily glucosamine-based supplement (containing 1,200 mg of glucosamine hydrochloride, 300 mg of shark cartilage, 90 mg of quercetin glycosides, 10 mg of imidazole peptides, and 5 μg of vitamin D per day) had significant reductions in knee pain and major improvements in knee joint function and walking speed!
ACTION POINT: If you choose a multi-ingredient joint protection product, make sure it has 1000-2000 mg of glucosamine per daily dose and take it as directed. Make sure you take it consistently (and before severe joint problems arise), as it may take up to 3 months to feel the benefits.
N, Ono Y, Shibata H, Moritani T. Glucosamine-containing supplement improves locomotor functions in subjects with knee pain: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Clin Interv Aging. 2015 Oct 28;10:1743-53.