Adenosine, Sleep Pressure, and Caffeine - Matthew Walker
Some things I took away from Matthew Walkers great book Why We Sleep, on adenosine, sleep pressure, caffeine.
Adenosine is the chemical that builds up in your brain.
The longer you are awake, the more it builds up. This increases your desire to sleep. This is what is known as sleep pressure. After 12 to 16 hours this has built up enough for us to go to sleep.
Caffeine takes up the receptor sites of the adenosine which blocks and inactivates the receptors. This then blocks the sleeping signal normally communicated to the brain by adenosine.
Caffeine has a half life of 5 to 7 hours. So a coffee at 6pm could still have 50% of the caffeine in your system at 11pm to 1am. And that's only halfway of getting the caffeine out of the system, don't forget.
Whilst caffeine is in the system, adenosine is still accumulating. So once the liver clears out the caffeine, you now have the sleepiness you had 2 hours before the coffee plus the additional build up of adenosine whilst on the caffeine. Once the caffeine leaves the receptors, the adenosine rushes in and you feel more sleepy than before.
I often get asked if / what pre-workout I take. I don’t take a pre-made blend of any type. I just mix a few different ingredients together depending on what I am trying to achieve at any given time.
This is roughly what I had before this morning’s workout:
1 Java Stim (caffeine)
Creatine is one of the most researched and safest supplements you can get. Creatine has been the subject of more than 100 clinical trials. It is involved in energy metabolism in the muscles, the protein (nitrogen) balance, and cell membrane stability. It can also help increase muscle size, strength, and performance.
“While the exact mechanism of this is not fully understood, studies show that creatine supplementation can decrease muscle protein breakdown during exercise, can increase the expression of IGF-1 in the muscles (an anabolic hormone), and creatine can support the satellite cell cycle, which helps expand the functional size capacity of the muscle cell.”
Creatine monohydrate is the most common and by far the most widely researched out of them all. Creatine monohydrate exhibits almost 100% absorption.
There are many times when creatine can be beneficial, for example, when trying to increase muscle mass, when you are sleep deprived, when you want to increase strength and power, and when you want to buffer lactic acid. For these reasons I take creatine regularly.
Glutamine is one of our favourite amino acids as it is so versatile and can be used in so many different situations. As an example, we like to use it to quell inflammation, repair the gut lining, to put on muscle mass, to help sleep, to reduce food cravings, and to fight of colds and flu’s, to name a few.
“It is involved in a variety of metabolic functions including the support of immunity, gastrointestinal integrity, insulin secretion, neurological activity, and muscle protein synthesis.”
Beta-alanine can enhance muscle endurance, improving both aerobic and anaerobic performance, increase muscle mass and strength, and improve body composition.
“Carnosine is found in high concentrations in skeletal muscle. Carnosine has a number of important physiological activities in muscle tissue such as serving as a primary pH buffer, an antioxidant, and increases cellular sensitivity to calcium, which is a trigger in muscle contractions. Carnosine also helps protect muscle proteins from oxidation and glycation. Beta-alanine supplementation can significantly increase the amount of carnosine in muscle tissue. This may improve endurance and performance at high levels of exertion. This is believed to be due to a pH buffering effect.”
“Beta-alanine appears to reliably improve a variety of exercise parameters, but mostly for efforts lasting 60–240 s. Above that range, benefits decrease. Under that range, benefits are not significant.”
It is also a good idea to combine creatine with your beta-alanine. These two together have a synergistic effect. The gains in strength, muscle mass, and endurance seen with this combination are much better than beta-alanine used separately.
Arginine is promoted to increase growth hormone levels and nitric oxide production, and support increases in muscle mass, strength, and athletic performance. Arginine increases muscle mass through increased blood flow to the working muscles and nutrient delivery but it also has the benefit of being able to increase (stretch) the cell membranes.
Leucine stimulates the mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin) signalling pathway, which is necessary for turning on protein synthesis. Protein synthesis is basically taking amino acids and building muscle out of it.
“Even when an overabundance of amino acids are available to provide the building materials for new muscle, adding extra leucine augments protein synthesis rates further. The bottom line is that adding additional leucine to your diet is an effective strategy to maximize muscle anabolism after resistance exercise.”
Caffeine has many benefits when it comes to increasing performance. The two main benefits I use caffeine for are increased strength and for delaying the onset of fatigue.