Your workout isn’t really over until you recover.
All of the results of working out – fat burning, muscles building, bone strengthening, skill acquisition, endurance improvements – these all happen after you workout and are a product of your body recovering from training.
So, you see, the real magic happens in the after-hours and in the bedroom.
The more you give your body what it needs after exerting yourself, the bigger your gains will be – however you choose to measure those gains.
The most important thing for recovery is – you guessed it – good quality sleep.
Sleep is when your healing and building processes are most active.
Most of the existing sleep aids on the market are only focused on one thing: helping to knock you out.
Athletes need way more than that. You need nutrients that help support great quality sleep and that contribute to how efficiently your body recovers from your workouts.
For good recovery from training, your body needs to do the following 4 things while you sleep:
- Trigger the cells and enzymes that build new tissue (also called anabolic processes).
- Make energy and nutrients available for remodeling or building new tissue.
- Prevent excessive inflammation.
- Calm your nervous system and have proper restorative cycles of REM (dreaming sleep) and Non-REM (light and deep sleep) activity in your brain.
Recovery enhancing activities or supplements tend to focus on one or two of these critical processes. Ice baths, for example, are meant to help with blood flow and moderating inflammation. Post workout BCAAs, creatine, and protein are meant to contribute nutrients and stimulate anabolic pathways.
Collagen peptides have been shown to help with all 4 of these critical processes. It has unique properties for supporting tissue building and contributes to better quality sleep when taken before bed.
For these reasons, collagen is the foundation of our PM Recovery collagen and is our top-rated sleep aid for athletes.
Now, let's dig deeper into some of the research on this protein.
What is collagen?
Collagen is the most abundant type of protein in the body. It makes up most of the structure and strength in your skin, joints, bones, tendons, ligaments, and muscles.
As you age, your body starts to produce less collagen, contributing to:
- sagging skin and wrinkles
- break down in your joints
- loss of muscle mass
- loss of bones
Less collagen also means slower workout recovery and increased chance of injury.
You become especially vulnerable to injury in your joints and in structural elements around your muscles, the tendons and ligaments. Supplementing with collagen makes more of it available and has been shown to help some of these problems.
Collagen peptides as recovery molecules.
Collagen peptides are well absorbed in the gut when you eat or drink them and are then used throughout the body. Studies with collagen supplements that have been radio-tagged have shown that the collagen peptides get absorbed and then show up in the skin and joints and are integrated into the tissues.
That’s pretty cool!
Scientists have actually been able to follow the peptides after being swallowed and can see that they directly become part of new joint cartilage and skin.
Collagen can also act like signalling molecules. Collagen peptides have been shown to influence muscle growth cells and cartilage growth in joints, activating anabolic (growth) processes.
A 2019 study from the University of Freiburg in Germany, had 77 women supplement with collagen for 12 weeks while following a 3 day per week resistance training program and compared them to a group of women following the exercise program but not using collagen.
The study found that while both groups lost body fat and increased lean mass and strength, the collagen supplementing ladies had a bigger effect. They had significantly bigger changes in their fat loss and muscle gain, as well as a bigger increase in strength.
The authors discussed some of the reasons why this would be the case and noted that:
“Collagen peptides are absorbed in the small intestine to a considerable amount in peptide form [49,50,51]. These bioactive peptides act as signalling molecules that trigger anabolic processes in several tissues and, in particular, in skeletal muscle [25,52].” (7)
Another study, involving 24 'recreationally active' men supplementing with collagen for just 9 days concluded that "9 days of collagen peptide supplementation might help to accelerate the recovery of muscle function and attenuate muscle soreness following strenuous physical exercise."(4)
Some scientists have also linked collagen to promoting creatine in muscle tissue, which also contributes to muscle growth after exercise.
Collagen and inflammation
Inflammation is part of the way that your body reacts to stress and damage. When you workout, you cause small amounts of damage to muscles and the surrounding structures. This causes a local inflammatory response, increasing blood flow, nutrients, and healing cells to the area. The repair process causes growth in muscle tissue and increases in strength and endurance. This is a healthy process.
However, sometimes the local inflammatory response goes on unchecked and becomes chronic or is excessive compared to the amount of damage. This can happen if your body is already sick or stressed out, if you have other health issues, if you have been exposed to toxin like alcohol, or in the case of over training and poor recovery. You can then experience negative effects like pain, swelling, overuse injuries, and compromised immune function.
Animal and human studies with collagen suggest anti-inflammatory effects. Research looking at the impact of collagen intake on cardiovascular disease and ulcerative colitis have found evidence of anti-inflammatory effects of type 1 collagen. Research on arthritic conditions have also shown beneficial effects on markers of inflammation.
One study out of Penn State, involving 147 healthy athletes who had activity-related joint pain, had the participants supplement with 10g of collagen for 24 weeks. They looked at changes in joint pain, mobility, and inflammation. Compared to athletes not using collagen, the study found that supplementation with collagen resulted in improved joint function and flexibility. In particular, they was a marked decrease in pain while walking, running, and changing direction while running. (3)
Managing inflammation is critical for recovery, performance, and good health. As research continues to show how collagen helps this process, it remains a safe a helpful option.
Collagen for Better Quality Sleep
Glycine is an amino acid – a protein building block – that is found in very high amounts in collagen. It is also a calming chemical for the brain.
Studies have shown that glycine acts like GABA in some ways, such as relaxing muscles while you are dreaming and helping you fall asleep faster.
Glycine supplements have been shown to decrease core body temperature which helps with falling asleep and staying asleep.
When taken before bed it has been shown to improve sleep quality in people who have difficulty sleeping and to decrease daytime fatigue.
Supplementing with collagen is a great way to get a bunch of glycine before bed, to help promote better quality sleep.
Athletes Need Great Sleep
The only way to fully recover and recharge your brain and body is to get enough good quality sleep. Unfortunately, in our busy lives, sleep is often one of the first where we start to cut corners to fit everything else in. While you're putting in your best effort at work and chasing your fitness goals, focusing on sleep can feel nearly impossible.
We've been there. It's the reason why we started experimenting with supplements and hacks to maximize quality in the least amount of total sleep time.
If you're not yet using supplements to support your sleep and recovery, PM Recovery Collagen is a great option. Not only goes it contain 10g of collagen peptides per serving, it has added L-tryptophan which gives it a complete amino acid profile.
It has additional ingredients to help your system calm down, support healthy sleep, and maximize your recovery overnight. It is also sugar free, non-gmo, and is made from hormone and antibiotic free sources. So you can rest assured that you're getting a great quality, clean supplement.
Great sleep and recovery are easy with PM Recovery Collagen. Simply mix one scoop into a glass of cold water 30-60 minutes before bed to sleep like a beauty and wake up ready to train like a beast.
*** The views expressed in this article are those of one expert. They are the opinions of the expert and do not necessarily represent the complete picture of the topic at hand. This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
- Bannai, Makoto, and Nobuhiro Kawai. "New therapeutic strategy for amino acid medicine: glycine improves the quality of sleep." Journal of pharmacological sciences 118.2 (2012): 145-148.
- Bannai, Makoto, et al. "The effects of glycine on subjective daytime performance in partially sleep-restricted healthy volunteers." Frontiers in neurology 3 (2012): 61.
- Clark, Kristine L et al. “24-Week study on the use of collagen hydrolysate as a dietary supplement in athletes with activity-related joint pain.” Current medical research and opinion 24,5 (2008): 1485-96. doi:10.1185/030079908x291967
- Clifford, T., Ventress, M., Allerton, D.M. et al. The effects of collagen peptides on muscle damage, inflammation and bone turnover following exercise: a randomized, controlled trial. Amino Acids 51, 691–704 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00726-019-02706-5
- Halson SL. Sleep in Elite Athletes and Nutritional Interventions to Enhance Sleep. Sports Medicine (Auckland, N.z). 2014;44(Suppl 1):13-23. doi:10.1007/s40279-014-0147-0.
- Honvo, Germain et al. “Role of Collagen Derivatives in Osteoarthritis and Cartilage Repair: A Systematic Scoping Review With Evidence Mapping.” Rheumatology and therapy 7,4 (2020): 703-740. doi:10.1007/s40744-020-00240-5
- Jendricke, Patrick et al. “Specific Collagen Peptides in Combination with Resistance Training Improve Body Composition and Regional Muscle Strength in Premenopausal Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” Nutrients vol. 11,4 892. 20 Apr. 2019, doi:10.3390/nu11040892
- Kawai, Nobuhiro et al. “The sleep-promoting and hypothermic effects of glycine are mediated by NMDA receptors in the suprachiasmatic nucleus.” Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology vol. 40,6 (2015): 1405-16. doi:10.1038/npp.2014.326
- Oesser, Steffen, Milan Adam, Wilfried Babel, and Seifert Jü Oral Administration of 14C Labeled Gelatin Hydrolysate Leads to an Accumulation of Radioactivity in Cartilage of Mice (C57/BL) The Journal of Nutrition 129, no. 10 (October 1999): 1891–95. https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/129.10.1891.
- Song, Hongdong et al. “Effect of Orally Administered Collagen Peptides from Bovine Bone on Skin Aging in Chronologically Aged Mice.” Nutrients vol. 9,11 1209. 3 Nov. 2017, doi:10.3390/nu9111209
- Yamadera W, Inagawa K, Chiba S, Bannai M, Takahashi M, Nakayama K. Glycine ingestion improves subjective sleep quality in human volunteers, correlating with polysomnographic changes. Sleep and Biological Rhythms. 2007;5(2):126-131. doi:10.1111/j.1479-8425.2007.00262.x.