How to Sleep Better with ZMA.
ZMA is a popular sleep-inducing supplement that is used to encourage a healthy full night’s sleep by relaxing the muscles. Today, we’re explaining everything you need to know about using ZMA safely and effectively.
What is ZMA?
ZMA is a supplement popular among athletes and bodybuilders. ZMA stands for Zinc Monomethionine Aspartate, although the supplement itself contains magnesium aspartate and vitamin B6 as well.
The supplement is a synthetic formula produced in a lab. It’s a registered trademark owned by SNAC Nutrition, also known as SNAC Systems Inc. If you see a supplement calling itself a ZMA supplement, then that manufacturer paid for a license from SNAC Nutrition.
Interestingly enough, the ZMA formula isn’t actually patented, which means anyone can produce it and sell it. However, in order to use the name ZMA, you’ll need to obtain licensing permission from SNAC Nutrition.
How Does ZMA Work?
ZMA works by delivering high levels of sleep-inducing nutrients into your body. Most people get more than their daily recommended dose of zinc and vitamin B6. Most people do not, however, get their recommended dose of magnesium.
Studies have shown that taking magnesium can encourage muscle relaxation, which then leads to sleepiness.
If you’ve taken ZMA and haven’t noticed any of the intended benefits, then you may not need the supplement: those who have enough zinc and magnesium in their diet from food or other supplements may not need ZMA. If you’re zinc and magnesium deficient, however, you’ll find the effects to be particularly noticeable.
ZMA works as more than just a sleep supplement. It’s also an anabolic formula that enhances muscle recovery. By forcing the muscles to relax during sleep, professional athletes can enjoy a more refreshing, rejuvenating sleep.
As an anabolic formula, ZMA increases testosterone production. It’s one of the few natural testosterone boosters that’s actually been shown to work: in studies (as seen below), researchers have shown that ZMA can lead to a testosterone boost of up to 30%.
ZMA is particularly important to athletes because frequent exercise can affect sleep patterns. Professional athletes may be expected to fall asleep a few hours after playing an intense game, for example. They may also need to frequently adjust to different time zones. In any case, ZMA use is common in professional sports leagues and among many high level athletes.
Exercise isn’t the only thing that affects sleep. Age also has a powerful effect on sleep. As people age, their sleep quality declines. We spend less and less time in deep or slow-wave sleep (SWS), the stage of sleep that occurs during the first stages of sleeping.
Of course, as we age, testosterone production also declines. This can lead to sexual dysfunction, poor muscle tone, and low energy levels as you age. Some people take ZMA exclusively as a testosterone booster.
In any case, multiple groups of people can benefit from ZMA. If you’ve ever had trouble falling asleep, then you may be able to use ZMA to solve that problem.
Other valuable benefits of ZMA include:
— Better Sleep Quality
— Faster Recovery
— Increased Endurance And Strength
— Higher Testosterone Levels
— Higher Libido
— Deeper Voice, More Facial Hair, And Other Effects Associated With Higher Testosterone Levels
How to Use ZMA
ZMA is typically taken within 30 to 60 minutes of going to bed. Most people recommend taking it on an empty stomach to maximize the benefits.
Specific ZMA dosages vary between supplements. Most supplements suggest a dosage of one to two times per day – including one dose immediately before going to bed. Taking ZMA before bed will not only enhance your sleep, but it will also encourage muscle development and maintenance during sleep.
The other ZMA capsule is typically taken in the morning – like when you wake up and have an empty stomach before breakfast.
ZMA Side Effects
ZMA has been well-tolerated in most studies. It has also, however, been linked with certain side effects. Minor side effects include sleep apnea and snoring.
More serious side effects have been shown to affect your cardiovascular system. The anabolic effects of ZMA can lead to an overproduction of red blood cells, which thereby increases your risk of heart disease. This overproduction of red blood cells can also enlarge the prostate gland, increase skin oil production, or encourage acne growth.
ZMA has also been linked to some of the same side effects as other testosterone boosting supplements, including enlarged male breasts, limited sperm production, enlargement of the prostate gland, and male pattern baldness.
ZMA is not recommended for women and, like most testosterone boosters, is not typically taken by women. Women who take ZMA may notice unwanted side effects, like increased body hair and aggressiveness.
Women who do decide to take ZMA are recommended to take 2/3 of a standard dose.
Scientific Evidence for ZMA
ZMA has not been studied extensively over the years, but it has been the subject of several important studies. Here are some of the landmark studies performed on ZMA and its effects.
— 2004 Study Shows No Link Between ZMA and Better Training Patterns
One 2004 study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition measured the results of ZMA supplementation on “experienced resistance trained males.” That study also showed that ZMA supplementation didn’t even raise zinc or magnesium levels. The researchers did say, however, that those who are deficient in zinc or magnesium may experience more ZMA benefits, and that the effects of ZMA on other parts of the population, like out-of-shape men, women, and the elderly, “remains to be determined.”
— ZMA Study Performed on NCAA Football Players
One of the most frequently-cited studies on ZMA was performed by Dr. Lorrie Brilla on 12 NCAA division II football players. These players took ZMA nightly during an 8 week spring training program. A separate group was assigned a placebo pill. By the end of the study, the athletes taking ZMA had 2.5 times greater muscle strength gains than the placebo group. The ZMA group also had 30% increases in testosterone levels compared to just 10% in the placebo group. One interesting thing about this study was that the two groups had no significant differences in body weight, which means that ZMA has no effect on muscle mass.
— 2006 Study on Wrestlers Shows Improvements in Testosterone
This 2006 study was published in Neuro Endocrinology Letters. The study examined the effects of zinc supplementation on 10 male wrestlers. Wrestlers were instructed to take a zinc supplement for 4 weeks. After that 4 week period, the wrestlers were observed to have higher total testosterone and free testosterone levels after athletic activity. It’s important to note that researchers used a basic zinc supplement and did not use ZMA. However, since ZMA acts as a zinc supplement, this study is often cited as support for ZMA.
How to Buy ZMA Supplements
ZMA is available without a prescription from most pharmacies and drug stores. There are also plenty of ZMA supplements available for purchase online.
Many bodybuilding supplement manufacturers also sell ZMA supplements. Popular ZMA supplements include Dymatize Z-Force, MusclePharm Z-Core PM, and Precision ZMA.
Supplements are typically priced between $20 and $40 for a one month supply.
One of the most popular brands of ZMA is Optimum Nutrition ZMA.
Is ZMA Right For You?
ZMA is one of those supplements that can have powerful effects on multiple parts of your health. It’s been clinically proven to increase testosterone production in a safe and natural way. It’s also been shown to encourage a healthy and restful sleep.
Some people take ZMA exclusively to enjoy a better sleep, while others use it primarily as a testosterone supplement.
There are lots of different ZMA supplements on the market today, although the name “ZMA” is a trademarked term owned by a single pharmaceutical company. That means you have to take your time to shop around and make sure you’re getting a high-dose ZMA supplement from a reputable company.
ZMA is particularly popular among high level athletes. This may be because athletes lose zinc and magnesium when sweating and can’t replenish that zinc and magnesium from dietary sources. Certain studies have shown that taking ZMA can increase testosterone levels and that this effect is particularly pronounced in high level athletes.
However, if you get more than enough zinc and magnesium in your diet already, then you may notice no discernable benefits from ZMA supplementation.