By Ross Silny, Guest Contributor
I’ve had my battles insomnia. I am sure many of you have had similar battles as well, particularly if you are reading this article. Much of my insomnia has been caused by a low-carb diet. When I say lower carb, I mean hovering around that 60g level. I don’t drink a lot of caffeine.During the day, low carb focus is a great thing, but at night, not so much. When my carbs are that low, I just can’t sleep. It is almost as if my brain just keeps going and going all night.
I searched high and low for ways to cure it other than eating heavy carbs, especially at night which caused my weight to trend up. Obviously, that wasn’t a good thing. In addition, when I upped my carbs, I just didn’t feel very well. I had decreased focus, more water weight, more joint pain, etc. It was a horrible trade-off.
I am against taking sleeping pills, but I’d be lying if I told you I never dabbled with Benadryl. Desperation tends to go hand-in-hand with insomnia. But that all changed the day I discovered that taking supplements could give me a full 8-hours of restful sleep.
While googling insomnia cures. I noticed a lot of bodybuilding forums promoted the use of a product called ZMA. When I broke down ZMA, I found it was really just a combination of zinc, B6, and magnesium. I did a bit more research and eventually went out and bought a bottle. I took two capsules before bedtime and it worked like a charm, from the first night. I now take ZMA before bedtime and I sleep like a rock. I even have some pretty cool vivid dreams. You could buy ZMA out of convenience or simply buy Magnesium and Zinc alone. I use this Magnesium. I use this Zinc. I use this vitamin B6. You can find them at your local stores if you don’t want to order online. Also, with the Zinc version, I opt for the less popular ones because the most popular ones tend to have a LOT of Zinc. I’d do some research or check with your Doctor before taking Zinc as your dosage can matter a lot.
Some of my research notes:
- I learned a lot of people are zinc deficient. This was really eye-opening to me.
- I learned zinc does a lot of great things for eczema. In fact, as of now, I’d say the two best treatments for my skin when my eczema flairs up are a cold shower and zinc. But since I’ve been taking the ZMA, my flare-ups have been far and few between.
- Overall, I feel better much better. I know everyone feels a lot better when they get a good night’s sleep, so I’m not entirely sure if it’s the chicken or the egg.
- I’ve dropped a lot of a weight because I can resume my low carb diet without worrying about having insomnia.
I found more confirmation to show I was on the right track. This study was done on student athletes using ZMA.
Research suggests that ZMA has significant anabolic benefits. A study performed at Western Washington University (Bellingham) had NCAA football players take ZMA or a placebo every night during an eight-week spring training program. They reported that the athletes taking the ZMA supplement experienced more than a 30-percent increase in testosterone levels, and about a 5-percent increase in levels of the insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). Those taking a placebo had a 10-percent decrease in testosterone levels and a greater than 20-percent decrease in levels of IGF-1.
In addition to the improvements in their anabolic hormone levels, the ZMA-supplemented athletes made significantly greater gains in strength and power, and achieved better quality sleep than in the placebo group. Better sleep quality also helps muscle recovery after tough workouts. These benefits occurred in the ZMA group despite the fact that an analysis of their diets found all of the athletes were all consuming well over the recommended intake for zinc. In addition to the study performed by the Western Washington University researcher, several other studies have also found that zinc and magnesium offer potent anabolic properties.
Should you try this? That’s not for me to say.* There are a lot of variables, including my version of insomnia may be different from what you’re experiencing. For me, I found ZMA to be an inexpensive solution that no only helped me to get better sleep, but I got an added benefit of improved eczema. But I do love to pass on ideas that have worked for me. Now, do your own research and come to your own conclusions. For me, ZMA worked like a charm.
*Always check with your personal physician before ordering vitamins online and before taking any new supplement. Results may vary. 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.
(previously published on Wellness Soldier in 2015).
photo credit: fotolia / Narong Jongsirikul