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Dr. Michael J. Breus Headshot

What Do Sleep and Baseball Have in Common this Week?

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Aside from the exciting Sox vs. Cardinal baseball that went on last week leading up to the World Series, the drama surrounding Cleveland Indians pitcher Paul Byrd caught my attention in particular. Byrd acknowledged using human growth hormone for a medical condition, but what got my eye wasn't related to the fact HGH is a banned drug in professional baseball (since 2005) without a doctor's prescription. It's about something else I read that I bet most people didn't stop to think about.

For starters, Byrd admits he took the substance
on the advice of three different doctors treating him for a deficiency
in this hormone. His pituitary, the gland responsible for making human
growth hormone in the body, allegedly isn't up to speed. But I'm not
going to comment on any of that; don't look to me to speculate on his
medical records, needs, or the fact his taking HGH is under fire in a
sport constantly scrutinized for illegal use of performance-enhancing
drugs. No, I'll leave that to the sports journalists, news
commentators, and pundits.

It was what Byrd wrote about unwittingly that pricked my ears right up:
..."the sporadic periods of fatigue and lack of sleep have really
bothered me on the baseball field..." Clearly, Byrd is under-slept and
his pituitary is under-performing. A connection?

I can't imagine what it must be like to be a top professional athlete
or under the pressure of a baseball player like Byrd who can make or
break an entire season -- not to mention a chance to win the World
Series -- for teammates and fans. It doesn't surprise me that sleep gets
thrown out the window. But here's a friendly reminder: human growth
hormone, a key ingredient we all need routinely to grow new cells,
repair tissues, recover our bodies from the daily grinds, and
essentially be (and feel) rejuvenated, gets released naturally by the
body during sleep. It's not so easy to herald this secret ingredient to
youth and vitality during our waking hours.

In my latest book, Beauty Sleep,
I refer to human growth hormone as "Dr. GH" because it's as close to
having a cosmetic surgeon on call (and in your pocket) as you're going
to get in your life -- without any cutting, nipping, or real tucking
necessary. A free asset in all of our bodies that can truly work
wonders when we nourish and supports its functions. Which starts and
ends with a good night's sleep.

I think we tend to forget about Dr. GH in our daily lives as we check
off our To Dos and sacrifice sleep for seemingly getting more done. We
resort to countless (need I mention pricey) beauty products, fad diets,
day spas, drugs, and over-the-counter lotions and potions. We down too
much caffeine, too, as we chase the next source of high energy. All in
pursuit of youth. In pursuit of vibrant health. In pursuit of home
runs.

My message is clear: You've got home runs lying in wait deep inside.
Byrd's latest media frenzy should be a reminder to us all to get our
shut-eye. Youth and performance is not about injections, pills, and
potions. It's about tapping our inner source of endurance that's
already in circulation when we surrender to good sleep. Too bad not all
game plans call for sound sleep.

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