A common misconception for many is that sleep is essentially stored away in something of a bank.
During periods when the time is scarce, and the to-do list is long, it is thought that all that is required is to withdraw some saved sleep units and stay awake for several extra hours.
The trouble is that this type of borrowing is rarely repaid.
The obvious outcome is crippling fatigue, which many attempts to balance by ingesting caffeine.
The attempt to stave off tiredness with caffeine works because the substance sparks the nervous system and disguises the impact sleep deprivation is actually having on the body.
Workout fanatics everywhere use caffeine to help them complete their exercise routines even when they would otherwise be too sleepy to do them.
Recent research suggests, however, that caffeine may not be the panacea these individuals believe it to be in this context.
Fortunately, alternative compounds to exist that may be able to offer even better results than caffeine ever did.
How The Study Worked
Researchers invited ten amateur weightlifters around the age of 21 to take part in a double-blind, random study.
The subject pool was divided into three different groups.
One group received a placebo, one received 3 mg of caffeine per kilogram of their own bodyweight, and one was given caffeine in a dose of 6 mg per kilogram.
All of the weightlifters were asked to do knee extensions and curls as the researchers monitored each participant’s isokinetic concentric as well as eccentric strength at both 60 and 180 degrees.
It was discovered that neither dose of caffeine had an effect on the participants’ maximal voluntary concentric or eccentric elbow flexor strength.
The knee flexors experienced the same absence of effect from caffeine.
Notably, though, both caffeine doses produced an observable increase in peak concentric force of each lifter’s knee extensors at 180 degrees, with the larger dose producing an increase during multiple repetitions.
Ultimately, these results led the researchers to conclude that upper body performance and strength is not impacted by caffeine, though lower body strength is improved somewhat with the ingestion of caffeine.
Should the results hold true, it may be that caffeine is not necessarily the ideal workout stimulant many weightlifters thought it to represent.
Of course, it did seem to prove effective regarding workout out the lower body.
Lacking in the research study, however, is any consideration of the effects of sleep deprivation.
It begs the question of whether caffeine would have more of an impact concerning strength increases in those who had not had sufficient sleep before working their lower and upper bodies.
The answer is probably in the affirmative, but that is not to say that more useful supplements and compounds do not exist for this purpose.
Creatine And Magnesium For The Sleep-Deprived
Researchers in Japan discovered that a dose of magnesium totaling 100 mg per day for a 30-day period to men with sleep deprivation facilitated the same level of functioning they would experience if they had received their full amount of required sleep.
Magnesium caused the men’s level of anaerobic power and strength to remain at a high level.
It is well-known that magnesium levels in the body tend to drop when sleep deprivation occurs, but a marked lack of sleep also lifts the levels of norepinephrine, a substance similar to adrenaline.
Because magnesium is a fierce vasodilator, it could be that it works to negate norepinephrine’s vessel-constriction effects.
The magnesium could also work to help regulate norepinephrine levels overall.
This could be why magnesium has such an impact on how well sleep-deprived individuals are able to exercise.
It is possible that creatine is an even better option for exercisers operating on insufficient sleep.
While it appears that in order to be effective in this way, magnesium needs to be administered continuously and in advance in order to compensate for sleep deficits, but just one dose of creatine 90 minutes prior to a workout is often all that is required.
Scientists believe that creatine works to put back into the brain certain energy phosphates that are lost during sleep, thus replenishing the nervous system’s capabilities.
Putting These Facts To Work
Those who put stock in the caffeine research discussed above may drink coffee as a means to boost lower body workout performance levels, but they will not expect to see improvements in upper body outcomes.
However, it is unclear whether this will still be the case in those who have not had enough sleep.
It makes little sense to conclude, however, that caffeine does not offer some positive benefits concerning overall athletic performance.
Of course, given its status as a vasoconstrictor, blood will necessarily flow less well in those who have caffeine in their systems.
Therefore, taking roughly 100 mg doses of magnesium per day and 5-10 gr of creatine an hour and a half prior to working out may provide the best results for those who work out when deprived of sufficient sleep.