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We all know that Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is one of the hottest banned substances in professional sport. The effects of HGH include (from wikipedia):
Decreased body fat, increased muscle mass, increased bone density, increased energy levels, improved skin tone and texture, increased sexual function and improved immune system function.
In this article I reprinted a few months ago, the writer reported his experience with HGH:
After a few weeks of the HGH, I began to notice subtle changes. My skin started getting… better. Sun blotches that I’d had on my arms for a year faded away. One morning I woke up and a scar on my forehead—which I’d gotten from a mountain-bike endo two years earlier—was more or less gone. Even though I was training like a madman, I looked more rested. Younger. A little fresher.
Then I started to realize that my eyesight really was improving. I’d been thinking about getting glasses to read fine print on maps, but now there was no need. The glasses I used for night driving stayed in the glove compartment, unused, unnecessary.
If you prefer not to take needles, HGH is also produced naturally by your body – the all-natural pharmacy. It is synthesized and secreted from the pituitary gland which cycles throughout the day. Surges occur at 3 to 5 hour intervals. The largest and most predictable of these GH peaks occurs about an hour after onset of sleep. Exercise also acts as a stimulus for the production of HGH.
Lack of sleep can trigger a whole range of downstream physical side effects including a decrease in the production of HGH. There’s a lot of truth in the old adage “you grow when you sleep”.
I understand the UCI is discussing a ban on sleep and exercise as it gives an unfair advantage to all the fathers in the PRO peloton.
Okay, I think we’ve established that sleep is good. I’m no doctor, but I have good anecdotal evidence that if you don’t have a good night’s sleep, your training and recovery is going to suffer (along with everything else in your life). From the Google research I’ve been doing, it seems that 8 consecutive hours of sleep is optimal for the body’s HGH production.
I downloaded a cool iPhone app a few days ago called Sleep Cycle. From the website:
The Sleep Cycle alarm clock is a bio-alarm clock that analyzes your sleep patterns and wakes you when you are in the lightest sleep phase. Waking up in the lightest sleep phase feels like waking without an alarm clock – it is a natural way to wake up where you feel rested and relaxed. Since you move differently in bed during the different phases, Sleep Cycle uses the accelerometer in your iPhone to monitor your movement to determine which sleep phase you are in.
I’ve tried it out for a couple nights now and it’s pretty interesting to look at. It tracks how much sleep you’re getting, how your sleep cycles look, and has some nice alarms to wake up to. You can test out the app’s sensitivity and it’s quite amazing how it picks up on every little move you make. The most amazing thing is that it doesn’t pick up Mrs. CT’s movements (unless she’s in a particularly frisky mood…).
Does it work? I don’t know, but it only cost $1.19 and is making someone rich. If it helps me get more sleep and wakes me up more gently than my AM alarm clock for my 6am ride then it’s well worth it!
Best of all, you can share it with your friends on Facebook.