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Protein’s Effect on Sleep and Muscle Recovery

By Joel Totoro, RD Thorne Staff, U.S., 05/22/18, 5:30AM MDT


When we sleep, the rate at which the body creates new protein is normally quite low

Although the impact of sleep on the body’s ability to recover and repair has been established for many years, researchers have only recently begun to examine the role that night-time protein intake can have on the body’s typical sleep patterns.

Protein, when taken immediately post-workout, has been long tied to muscle recovery and repair from exercise and training. For example, sports dietitians recommend that athletes consume protein foods containing approximately 2.3 grams per serving of leucine, an amino acid that signals the muscles to recover and repair after a workout. Research shows this amount of leucine can best repair and maintain muscle.

Scientists have recently begun to explore what happens in the body when protein is provided outside of the post-workout recovery period.

When we sleep, the rate at which the body creates new protein – an essential part of recovery from training and competition – is normally quite low. In general, protein consumed during the post-workout period is no longer available by the time an athlete is settling in for a night of sleep. So researchers are now considering if there are ways to support recovery during this “window.”

Given that the recommendation is for athletes to get 8-10 hours of sleep a night, this means one-third of the day is spent in a state of low protein synthesis. The standard assumption has been that low availability of amino acids – the building blocks of protein – at night is a rate-limiting factor in protein synthesis. 

But researchers in the Netherlands in 2012 showed that 40 grams of protein consumed by resistance-trained subjects 30 minutes before sleep could, in fact, be digested and absorbed, which increased the availability of amino acids throughout the sleep period. This increase in available amino acids supported the body’s ability to create new protein.

Armed with this information, researchers set out to determine whether an increase in available amino acids during sleep would have an impact on performance and training. Subjects were strength-trained in the evening and given a recovery drink containing 28 grams of protein before sleep or a placebo that contained no protein.

The protein group exhibited a greater increase in strength output, as well as an increase in muscle size.

Although further research is expected to continue, these studies are important first steps in establishing that repair and recovery can be supported by nutrients during sleep. Interestingly, sports performance researchers are not the only scientists who are examining the impact of protein on sleep.

Researchers at Purdue University in 2016 examined the effect of diet on sleep quality in overweight and obese patients who were attempting to lose weight. Those individuals who consumed a higher amount of protein – 1.5 grams of protein per kg body weight – ranked their sleep quality better than the individuals who consumed less protein.

These recent findings have opened the door to explore the impact of protein consumption before bed on both sleep quality and the body’s normal response to training.

If sleep is an issue for you, contact your physician and consider an at-home Sleep Test – an easy test to perform in the comfort and privacy of your home. A Sleep Test removes guesswork because it tracks melatonin levels and cortisol levels at four different times during a 24-hour period.


Res P, Groen B, Pennings B, et al. Protein ingestion before sleep improves post-exercise overnight recovery. Med Sci Sports Excer 2012;44(8):1560-1569.

Snijders T, Res P, Smeets J, et al. Protein ingestion before sleep increases muscle mass and strength gains during prolonged resistance-type exercise training in healthy young men. J Nutr 2015;145(6):1178-1184.

Zhou J, Kim J, Armstrong C, et al. Higher-protein diets improve indexes of sleep in energy-restricted overweight and obese adults: results from 2 randomized controlled trials. Am J Clin Nutr 2016;103(3):766-774

To learn more about Thorne Nutritional products and our partnership please click here.

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COVID-19 and the 2020-21 Season

By Matt Leaf 04/02/2020, 11:30am MDT

Even with almost 50 years of involvement in hockey, you can’t plan for the current state of the world and the impact coronavirus has had on our game. I think it is safe to say that nothing prepares you for the changes that have taken place in our daily lives and the uncertainty of when things might return to normal. Or in this case, what will become the new “normal.”

Our expertise is hockey, so what we’ll address in this piece: the impact of the global pandemic on our game and how likely it will affect our game in the immediate future. 

USA Hockey continues to post information on COVID-19 on the main website. These updates keep our membership informed of specific programs and the changing safety recommendations that will be in place when hockey returns. Be sure to check back regularly for updates and other hockey information.

On the officiating front, much of what we are able to do from a program standpoint is connected to player events like national tournaments and player development camps. As you know, the national tournaments (along with the March, April and May IIHF World Championship events) were cancelled. The Officiating Program then canceled our two instructor training programs that were planned for late April and early May in Lake Placid, N.Y., and Colorado Springs, Colo. 

At this time, details for any potential summer development camps are still being determined. On the player side, several camps we are connected to were cancelled, and the few camps that are still in planning have been dramatically downsized. The Officiating Program continues to monitor the decisions made for players and will take advantage of any opportunity we have to salvage our summer camp program and maximize participation.

The good news is, we are confident we will have a 2020-21 season. All indications show no reason to delay registration. It will open as scheduled on or around May 26, followed by the open book exams and online seminar curriculum on June 1. 

SafeSport Training (required for anyone born in the year 2003 or earlier) and background screening (learn about the new national level screening program in the Q & A section) will also be available to complete at that time. If COVID-19 still has things slowed down in early June, it would be an ideal time to get these requirements completed.

The biggest unknown will be the timing in which we will be able to conduct seminars. The vast majority of rinks are currently closed, and many of them took this opportunity to remove ice to save operating costs and do maintenance. There is now doubt they will be prepared to quickly ramp up once they are allowed to do so, but as with most everything right now, the timing is uncertain. As a result, some of the earlier seminars may be pushed back a few weeks. The District Referees-in-Chief will secure ice times and facilities so we can provide seminar dates and locations as quickly as possible. We are also encouraging our instructors to think outside the box by providing some weeknight seminar options, and to look at other ways to best meet the needs of our members.

The Advanced Officiating Symposium, scheduled for Providence, R.I. in late July, is still going to plan. We will continue to monitor the situation, including local restrictions and travel advisories in the coming weeks, and we will announce any changes in advance to allow for alterations to travel arrangements. Click here for up-to-date information or to reserve your seat at the 2020 Advanced Officiating Symposium.

These are difficult times for everyone, and although our hockey family is important to us, it is a small fraction of the big picture that is impacting our daily lives. To quote Andy Dufresne in his letter for Red that he left under the big oak tree in The Shawshank Redemption: “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”

We hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. We hope the coronavirus is conquered with minimal loss of lives and a return to a prosperous normal as soon as possible. We hope your passion for the game of hockey will only grow as a result of its absence. We hope we are back on the ice in the coming months and that the 2020-21 season will be our best yet.

Thank you for your continued support of USA Hockey and don’t hesitate to contact us if there is anything we can do to make your hockey experience a better one. In the meantime, stay safe, stay healthy and be prepared to be back on the ice soon.

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