We all know that sleep is an important part of life. It promotes healing and health in the body.
However, something that researchers have recently discovered is that protein, when eaten at night, can have an effect on the body’s sleeping pattern.
Many people are already aware that protein can really help with muscle recovery, especially when eaten or otherwise ingested immediately following a workout. This is especially important news for hockey players, who are already putting a lot of strain on their bodies and who really need all the protein they can get.
Unfortunately, though, athletes also sleep at least 8 hours a night (ideally). And, while they sleep, the body creates new protein drastically slower than it would while awake. This means that young athletes are spending a lot of time without access to the repairing, helpful proteins their bodies need.
However, one way to beat that may be to ingest protein before bed. A recent study performed in the Netherlands concluded that when participants ingested 40 grams of protein a half hour before going to bed, that protein was digested and made amino acids available to the body during sleep. The results were even better because the participants also had greater strength and an increase in muscle size compared to those not ingesting protein before bedtime.
Furthermore, other studies have shown that a high-protein diet helps people to get better, more restful sleep, so your young athlete can “win” in more ways than one by eating protein before bedtime.
While research is still being done to fully determine how protein affects sleep, there’s certainly no harm in encouraging your athlete to get some pre-bedtime protein and to eat protein throughout the day as well.