What is HGH and What Does It Do?
HGH or Human Growth Hormone is an important part of the body’s endocrine system and a complex protein produced by the pituitary gland in the brain. It is one of the factors responsible for growth during childhood, but it also is an important part of cell and tissue repair for people of all ages.
HGH also enhances physical performance and even promotes healthy metabolism. Conversely, low levels of HGH can make you gain weight and increase your risk of disease. The brain releases HGH into the bloodstream during exercise, but it is also released during Stage 3 sleep, also known as deep sleep, which occurs about an hour after you first fall asleep and about four or five times throughout the night.
If you are into working out, it’s in your best interest to consider the positive effects that good sleep can have on HGH production, as it is a key component of increasing performance, building lean body mass and losing weight. Quality sleep hours combined with regular exercise not only creates the optimal environment for HGH production, both day and night, but makes for a safer, natural way to boost the hormone, without unregulated supplements or steroids.
Low HGH levels can also become an issue as we age, as older people don’t tend to sleep as much as when they were young. This is also one of the reasons why older people are more at risk for diseases of the heart, diabetes or obesity. Other harmful hormones are elevated in the body during stages of sleep deprivation, as well, such as cortisol, which also contributes to weight gain and disease.
By tweaking your sleep for optimal HGH production, you can increase your stamina, metabolism and perhaps even your lifespan. Keep reading to learn more about how sleep affects HGH production and what you can do to harness its power.
How Does Sleep Affect HGH?
As we already mentioned, HGH is released into the bloodstream during the first few cycles of Stage 3, or deep sleep. About one-quarter of your overall sleep time is spent in this stage of sleep and it is the most restorative and, arguably, the most important part of sleep. If you’re not getting enough sleep hours, chances are your body is not getting enough time to get through multiple cycles of Stage 3 sleep and, therefore, not releasing the optimal amount of HGH.
Think of HGH like a natural fountain of youth that the body releases under optimal sleep circumstances. Therefore, the best way to make sure you are harnessing the energy of your body’s HGH is to improve your diet and lifestyle, day and night, to make sure you get the best sleep possible.
Here are 5 ways to increase your production of Human Growth Hormone:
5 Ways to Increase Your Production of HGH
1. Get Quality Sleep
As we already mentioned, sleeping well will naturally increase your body’s ability to release HGH into the bloodstream. But sleeping well doesn’t just mean sleeping a lot of hours. HGH is not released continuously in the bloodstream. Rather, it is released in “pulses” or intervals throughout the night, based on your body’s natural circadian rhythm, which is controlled by daylight.
Studies have shown that the largest pulses of HGH occur before midnight with some smaller pulses in the early morning hours, indicating that when you sleep is also an important part of HGH production.
In another study, scientists compared the HGH levels in healthy males with structured and regularly scheduled sleep episodes to when they were allowed to schedule their own sleep times. They noted that sleep-related levels of HGH decreased significantly when they were able to choose their own hours and that the release of HGH ends sooner, likely due to the change in other sleep stages, like REM sleep.
So, it is important to not only get 7-9 hours of sleep each night but to also make sure that the quality of sleep is optimized. It should be uninterrupted and ideally not at odd hours.
2. Exercise & Lose Weight
Regular exercise is also an important way to increase your HGH level naturally, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, pulses of HGH are also released throughout the day during exercise, particularly during aerobic and resistance forms of exercise.
Interestingly enough, one study showed that HGH is at its best levels after repeated bouts of aerobic exercise within a 24-hour period. In resistance exercise, HGH levels were at their optimal levels when subjects used varied resistance activities and did resistance training at a high intensity.
While it was difficult to monitor the subjects and control the variables in this study, they did determine that “exercise is a robust stimulus of GH secretion” and that intermittent, high-intensity exercise was the key.
Try a combination of high-intensity interval and resistance training to increase your body’s HGH production during the day. Exercise has a secondary benefit when it comes to sleep in that it is a good way to expend enough energy to make you tired and ready for sleep at the end of the day.
3. Cut out sugar
Cutting out sugar is a good way to naturally increase your level of HGH, as an increase in insulin can lower HGH production. Non-diabetic, healthy individuals can have HGH levels of up to three to four times higher than diabetics. The higher our insulin levels, the lower our HGH levels, so by cutting out sugar and refined carbs, we give our body the best chance at regulating HGH production.
Lack of exercise and too much sugar can also lead to obesity, leading to low HGH levels and low HGH levels can also slow your metabolism, so blood sugar, obesity and low HGH levels can become a vicious cycle if not kept in check.
Too much sugar, especially late at night before bed, can also keep you up at night, leading to a poor sleep, which we will talk about more in our next point.
4. Don’t Eat Before Bed
You should especially avoid sugar before bed if you want to increase your HGH level, but you really should avoid eating altogether in the hours before bedtime, for overall health. A high carb or high protein meal will also raise your insulin levels and this could reduce the HGH levels that would normally be released at night. Insulin naturally decreases about two to three hours after eating, so you should allow time for your food to digest before you go to sleep.
Eating late at night can also keep you awake by giving you too much energy and it can cause other problems, like heartburn and indigestion, which can keep you awake and limit your number of quality sleep hours needed for optimal HGH production.
5. Take a GABA supplement
Perhaps you’ve already heard of the benefits of taking a valerian or melatonin supplement to help you sleep more soundly. But you might not have heard of GABA, another supplement with similar benefits.
GABA or gamma-aminobutyric acid is an amino acid that is naturally present in the body and works as a neurotransmitter to inhibit nerve impulses in the central nervous system. When used as a supplement, GABA is said to help those with anxiety and it also said to aid sleep.
While the long-term benefits of taking GABA supplements are not yet fully understood, evidence suggests that it can not only help you sleep better but also raise your natural HGH levels. In fact, one study showed that supplementing with GABA increased the test subject’s levels of HGH by 400 percent during rest and 200 percent just after exercise as compared to those taking the placebo.
GABA’s relation to sleep is also cyclical. Not only is it shown to raise HGH levels during the daytime, those that do not sleep well have lower levels of GABA – 30 percent lower, in fact. Since those who do not sleep well or for very long also have lower levels of HGH and GABA can work as a sleep aid, supplementing with GABA is a good way to both improve the quality of your sleep and raise your levels of HGH.
You can tap into the fountain of youth that is HGH by making a few key changes to your lifestyle and habits, so you’ll not only have the optimal amount of HGH released while you sleep but the best chance to produce it during the day. Changes, like diet and exercise, aren’t necessarily easy but the long-term benefits to maintaining healthy HGH levels can’t be disputed. You’ll recover quicker from injury, you’ll maintain a healthy weight and you’ll have a better quality of life with less disease, as you age.