I used to battle insomnia. I am sure many of you have battled it as well, particularly if you are reading this article. Much of my insomnia has been caused by lower carb diets. When I say lower carb, I mean hovering around that 60g level. I don’t drink a lot of caffeine. But when my carbs aren’t super high, I just can’t sleep. It is almost as if my brain just keeps going into the night. During the day, low carb focus is a great thing, but at night, not so much.
I searched high and low for ways to cure it. I did everything. But the only thing which worked was eating heavier carbs at night. And over time, this caused my weight trend to scale up. That wasn’t the direction I was striving for, as you can imagine. Also, lower carb (realize I am not saying NO carb) seemed to fuel better brain function, increased focus, less water weight stored, joint pain relief, etc.
I am anti-sleeping pills, but I’d be lying if I told you I never dabbled in the Benadryl. Desperation is a quality that tends to go hand-in-hand with insomnia.
But that all changed the day I discovered that taking two supplements could give me a full 8 hours of fulfilling sleep. I now take Magnesium and Zinc before bedtime, and I sleep like a rock. I even have some cool vivid dreams, though I know that not everyone appreciates that aspect. I got the idea to try this while googling insomnia cures. I noticed a lot of bodybuilding forums promoting the use of a product called ZMA. When I broke down ZMA, I found it was just a combination of Zinc and Magnesium. I did a bit more research and eventually went out and bought a bottle of Chelated Magnesium 200mg and Chelated Zinc 12mg +2mg Copper. I took one of each before bedtime, and it worked like a charm the first night. It took about 45 minutes to kick in, but when it did, I felt relaxed.
Some of my notes:
- I got the lowest Zinc I could find. Through my research, I discovered that it is not incredibly difficult to take too much zinc and that the human body only needs 11mg a day.
- I learned a lot of people were zinc deficient. This was eye opening to me.
- I learned zinc does a lot of great things for my eczema. In fact, as of now, I’d say the two best treatments for my skin are cold showers and zinc. And it isn’t even close.
- I feel overall better taking these minerals. But being truthful, everyone feels a lot better when they get a good night’s sleep.
- I’ve lost a good amount of weight from this because I no longer fear my low carb diet due to insomnia.
Magnesium is an essential mineral which promotes a healthy cardiovascular system, metabolic rate and increased bone health. Zinc is a vital mineral with antioxidant properties that stimulates enzyme activity in the body. Here’s a study which 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 sleep quality, than a placebo group. Better sleep quality also helps to aid muscle recovery from tough workouts. These benefits occurred in the ZMA group despite the fact that the analyses of their diets found that 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.*
Again, I got my minerals, as opposed to the ZMA product, but it could be worth looking into. Many athletes swear by it.
Should you try this? That’s not for me to say. There are a lot of variables at play here, including the type of insomnia I may experience as opposed to the kind which you experience. For me, it was a cheap solution which has also benefited me in ways past just my insomnia. I’m not your Doctor, so it isn’t for me to say what you need or don’t need. But I do love to pass on what works for me so that people who might be struggling can do their research and come to their conclusions. It has worked like a charm for me.
photo credit: fotolia / Narong Jongsirikul