T Nation

Controlling Stress-Related Cortisol


#1

Hello Christian
What nutritional approach would would you suggest for someone who trains, but has an erratic work schedule and a stressful job? I just finished working around the clock (literally). Because I'm self-employed, it is sometimes necessary to work crazy hours. So after a regular 8 hour 'shift' I trained from 9:00 pm to 10:30 pm, then went home and continued on a job (I'm a freelancer). I just finished up and it's 3 pm the next day. I realize that this lifestyle is not conducive to making gains in the gym, and thankfully this only happens once in a while. But if you have any tips to minimize the negative effects, or keep my training from being a total waste of time (or even a net negative) it would be appreciated.

I'm sure there must be other guys out there (with new babies for example) who are having sleep disruption, or working crazy stressful hours while trying to make progress in the gym.

On a related note, I've been having trouble falling asleep in general. Sometimes when I should be drifting off, instead my mind starts racing, and I find myself thinking about things that make me angry and agitated. To me, it seems like the 'fight or flight' reaction kicking in at an inappropriate time. So I wonder if I am having some general cortisol issues even when I'm on a 'normal' schedule. This could very well be a separate issue though.

I'm 48 years old and train about 8 hours a week on a split routine, so there's nothing excessive as far as my training schedule. I shifted over to a medium-low carb diet about 9 months ago (50-100/day) and I look and feel much better... I think I was possibly pre-diabetic (high carbs make me stupid and drowsy, even first thing in the morning).

I hope this question makes sense. Thank you for your time!


#2

If you have trouble falling asleep it is likely due to the fact that your cortisol is kept elevated at night. Your body can't relax as long as cortisol is being pumped out.

I would suggest 400-800mg of phosphatidylserine (lowers cortisol) and 10-20g of glycine (neural relaxant and indirectly lowers cortisol) around 3 hours before bedtime and again right before bedtime. You can use Z-12 if you really have problems falling asleep.

Add Rhodiola upon waking up.


#3

I am not a coach and don't claim to know a lot about supps, but I have had problems falling asleep for years. I am 33 and have had the same problem relaxing at night as you describe. I have tried a lot of stuff in the past and put off buying Z-12.

I finally broke down and tried it and it helped beyond anything I could ever have imagined. One cap will put me out and I can get a good night sleep. Two caps for when I am feeling particularly high strung and I am out within 30 min of going to bed. I used to get up every hour or two and toss and turn a bit. When I take Z-12 it just doesn't happen. My wife actually commented that it seemed like I was sleeping better lately.

I don't know what my problem was, cortisol or other, but Z-12 helps...a lot. It has moved very high on my supp priority list.

Not sleeping sucks, hopefully you get it worked out.


#4

Coach I have been scouring the internet for more info on cortisol but it is tough all the info is on bogus supps.

Where can I learn more about what it means at the times it does.
For example I have a chiropractic practice and train at lunch. I take glycine post WO but am usually tired in the afternoon. I know that means something

When my head hits the pillow I am asleep.
I do wake up in the night but I have a 6 month old

AM's are hit and miss sometimes hard to get going other times it is only pm and sometimes both

I am so confused I think if i could find some good info this would help me or perhaps my pts

thanks


#5

I already wrote something in your Protein/Amino Pulsing Post, I hope thats no problem.
Wich are good Products in:phosphatidylserine and glycine
Why add rhodiola upon waking up to better sleep at night?
Thanks for your time again.


#6

I take Rhodiola rosea because I want to sleep better. It's NOT a sleep herb, but it makes me more upbeat and positive about my day. I actually fall to sleep thinking about all the great stuff going on in my life, instead of lying there worrying which is what was keeping me up in the past. Seriously, this guy gave you some good advice. Try the Rhodiola. Plus, it has serious recovery benefits after a workout.


#7

Hey coach, do you still supplement with GABA? If so what dosage is best and is there any optimal timing with other pre-bedtime supps (melatonin, glycine, ZMA, etc...)


#8

If I may make a suggestion:
Melatonin is a decent supp.
You can use it with your evening meal. 3 grams are more than enough.
(It is better if you took with a meal, and not on an empty stomach)
But do not use it very often. You will get used to it very easily.
Twice a week should be fine.


#9

If I may make a suggestion:
Melatonin is a decent supp.
You can use it with your evening meal. 3 grams are more than enough.
(It is better if you took with a meal, and not on an empty stomach)
But do not use it very often. You will get used to it very easily.
Twice a week should be fine.


#10

3 grams! I think you mean 3mg!


#11

^^^ oops...:slightly_smiling: ...Yeah you are right...

Anyway, melatonin & GABA work better if taken with the evening meal.
If the evening meal is right before sleep, that is even better.
But the body might get used to Melatonin, and as a result it produces less by itself.
So take 3mg of Melatonin every 2-3 days.

ZMA (or just a plain Magnesium supplement) work only on an empty stomach.
I find it usefull to keep a dose of ZMA or Mg right by my bed.
In case I wake up (to go the bathroom) I take a dose to help me fall asleep again.


#12

Check out this site,

http://www.sleepgrounded.com/_coreModules/content/secure/ca-1.aspx?code=0000

I got mine about a week ago and so far think it has helped with my eratic shift worker sleep. It is supposed to help regulate cortisol amongst other things. Five other people a my gym purchased it and swear by it. One it cured her insomnia and another gave him more energy in the morning without spending hours and a few pots of coffee to get moving.


#13

I take 7 diphenhydramine tablets an hour before bed.