Part and parcel of modern life is chronic exhaustion, and it’s so interwoven into Western life that if you meet a person who seems overly well-rested, you simply assume they’re lazy and unambitious. “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” is likely something we’ve all said to be wry, when in fact all we want is to sleep until we’re dead. And knowing that under sleeping is one of the number one way to hamstring your gains, we will miss out on precious hours to binge-watch some garbage show with our significant other, or screw around on social media, or get drunk and fight hobos. Whatever it is you’re into, you tend to do that when you should be sleeping.
And of course, you still train when you’re under-rested, although the vaunted Barbarian Brothers, legends for training endlessly with massive weights, famously stated without equivocation:
“There is no such thing as undertraining, only under-eating and under-sleeping.” That’s not to say that training when tired is necessarily a bad thing (it’s certainly better than not training at all), but rather than sleep is the continually, criminally overlooked aspect of training that is likely reducing most or all the gains we feel we’re owed and have not obtained. Inadequate sleep not only reduces maximal muscle strength (Knowles), but it impairs your overall health, your ability to think on your feet, your metabolism, your deportment, your pain threshold (Onen), and even your sex drive (Hillman, Leproult). That means that if you skip enough sleep, you’re going to turn into a fat pile of broke, limp-dicked or uninterested, uncoordinated (Sprenger), developmentally challenged crap with nothing to do but sleep because you’ll be living in a van down by the river fueled by nothing but government cheese and free soup (Alhola).
The Barbarian Brothers were not kidding – the disaster you create when you go without sleep is legendary (Orzeł-Gryglewska):
- poor memorizing
- impaired perception
- vision disturbances
schematic thinking (which yields wrong decisions)
- difficulties in keeping concentration
- emotional disturbances (lie deteriorated interpersonal responses and increased aggressiveness)
- speech performance becomes monotonous and unclear,
- sensitivity to pain is higher
- risk of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease increases.
Sounds awesome, right? Emulating a Japanese salaryman is a fast track to an early death and a fat gut, not a great physique and a fat bank account. As every n00b loves saying, “you grow while you sleep,” and if you’re not hitting that deep sleep stage, your GH and testosterone levels will reflect it. That’s why Chaos and Pain has dropped a reformulated Olympus Hypnos, a sleep aid so potent you’ll have to peel the pillow off your face every morning before you head to work.
Why’d we reformulate it? Frankly, because the government will no longer the use of the ingredient on which we based the original formula, which means we had to dig through every textbook and herbal guide we could to determine what combination of ingredients might yield the same badass results yet without the chance of ending up in prison for allowing you guys to sleep the sleep of the dead.
To achieve this, the backbone of the new Hypnos is a combination of potent sleep aids GABA and Theanine, which were shown in multiple 2019 studies to work in concert to reduce time to sleep, increase sleep duration and sleep quality (Kim, Suheyon). If you’re ever in the market for a sleep aid and you see one of those ingredients rather than both, beware- “The use of GABA/l-theanine mixture rather than GABA or l-theanine alone restored to normal levels sleep time and quality in the arousal animal model” (Suheyon).
Next, we included the herb Mucuna Pruriens, which has been shown in studies to reduce cortisol levels in chronically stressed men and to improve their testosterone levels. Mucuna puriens is referred to as the “magic velvet bean” in scientific literature (Lampariello) and used for everything ranging from the management of male infertility to nervous disorders and to aid with erectile dysfunction (Ibid). For the lot of us, that is a critical component, because his cortisol levels have a negative effect on every system in your body. Most of all, cortisol affects protein degredation, which means fewer gains in times of elevated stress. Mucuna puriens can help blunt that protein degredation by reducing cortisol at night, which leads to deeper sleep, which leads to less cortisol upon awakening (Hayes).
The next hyper-potent combination of sleep aids is Passionflower, Hops, and Valerian, which is a long-used homeopathic blend used to reduce anxiety and promote restful sleep, in addition to being used to induce vivid dreams. Additionally, an Indian study in 2013 showed that this combination was as effective as the most popular prescription sleep aid on the market in reducing insomnia (Maroo).
Lastly, Hypnos contains both ZMA and Melatonin, a combination of minerals and a hormone that has been long used as a sleep aid, and L-Tryptophan, which helps to reduce the occurrence of sleep disturbances once the onset of sleep has occurred (Kim, Maroo).
And whether Hypnos is your bag, it’s impossible to overstate the importance of sleep to training.
- even short naps can be crazy beneficial– specifically, a short afternoon nap like (Vyazovskiy). Author and trainer Jason Ferruggia stated in Fit to Fight those naps “are a great way to speed up your recovery. During sleep, your body releases growth hormone and repairs the damage that has been done to your muscles during intense workouts. A 20- to 60-minute nap once a s day is a great way to make faster progress. If you ware training two to three times a day, as many combat athletes are (conditioning in the morning, practice in the afternoon, weight training at night), naps are an absolute necessity if you want to maximize your performance” (Ferruggia 188). And even great statesmen agree with that policy- Franklin Roosevelt was famous for his stance on napping, and once said “If the choice for me is 30 minutes of more preparation for an interview or a 30-minute nap, I’ll take the nap.”
- low testosterone can lead to crappy sleep. While that sucks, high levels of exogenous testosterone can have similar effects, which makes finding your sweet spot yet another fun side quest on this gains adventure. (Wittert).
- if you have sleep apnea and use a CPAP, the improved sleep will weirdly not resolve your testosterone deficiencies, so don’t use the darth Vader machine in hopes it’ll boost your test levels (Wittert)
- if you are sleep deprived, caffeine supplementation will bring your post workout hormone levels to non-sleep deprived states. Thus, if you’re not getting enough sleep, don’t skimp on the fat burners and preworkouts, or a post workout cup of coffee (Donald).
If that torrent of information didn’t convince you to catch up on your sleep, nothing will. Clearly, Hypnos is formulated to knock you out like team members from Chaos and Pain broke into your house and hit you over the head with an ax handle, so that’s always an option. Just remember- caffeine and ephedrine will only carry you so far. You’ve got to get some goddamned sleep if you want to tear up the strength world and look good on Instagram without filters.
FOR MORE ON THE IMPORTANCE OF SLEEP, CHECK OUT JOE ROGAN’S INTERVIEW WITH MATTHEW WALKER, PROFESSOR OF NEUROSCIENCE AND PSYCHOLOGY AT CAL BERKELEY ON THE JOE ROGAN EXPERIENCE.
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Ferruggia, Jason. Fit to Fight. New York: Avery, 2008.
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Suhyeon K, Kyungae J, Ki-Bae H, Sung Hee H, and Hyung JS. GABA and l-theanine mixture decreases sleep latency and improves NREM sleep. Pharm Biol. 2019; 57(1): 65–73.
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