Creatine is one of my favourite supplements. I take it on a daily basis.
Come rain or shine, training or rest day, I’ll be taking my 5g of creatine. Its benefits when it comes to training and muscle building are almost unrivalled from a scientific point of view. Supplementing with creatine really is a no brainer.
Personally I take my creatine in the morning before I train. But there is a debate on the best time to take this supplement and if you can take creatine before going to bed?
The short answer is this:
Yes, you can take creatine before bed. It’s more than OK to take creatine at night as there is no literature to suggest that it will impact your sleep in a negative way. This has been my personal experience too, although individuals can react differently.
When I’ve not taken creatine in the morning, I have taken it before bed without any detrimental impacts to my sleep.
In fact, taking creatine before bed may also bring extra benefits to your health and muscle building potential. Keep reading to find out how.
Why take creatine in the first place?
First and foremost, creatine is a naturally occuring chemical compound found in the body. It is not a steroid and not an essential amino acid.
Creatine is an organic compound made from three amino acids – arginine, glycine, and methionine. It’s primarily produced in the liver and kidneys. Creatine is stored throughout the body, but over 95% is found in your skeletal muscles.
Around 1-2% of creatine in your muscles gets degraded each day. This equates to roughly 3g worth needed to replenish supplies. The human body produces around 1-1.5g of creatine per day. The other half comes through your diet (meat and fish) and, more recently, supplementation.
The main role of creatine in the muscle is to regenerate ATP (the body’s main unit of energy). This is a key element when lifting weights. It can also draw water into your muscle cells, which is also a good anabolic signal. This will improve your muscle mass over time and creatine can help you with weight gain.
Many people looking to build muscle and maintain a good physique take creatine for the benefits of increased energy availability for explosive movements, improve power and performance under anaerobic conditions.
In fact, studies have also shown that creatine may be beneficial for non-exercise reasons too. These benefits include brain functioning and cognitive processing (particularly on stressed individuals), and on diseases involving muscles, such as Parkinson’s and Huntington’s.
Creatine is a super-supplement of sorts. There are lots of benefits associated with creatine and very, very few adverse health risks. You can even take out of date creatine and you should be absolutely fine.
Does creatine affect sleep?
There’s no major reason why creatine should negatively affect your sleep.
It doesn’t contain caffeine and is not a stimulant. With this in mind, there’s no reason for it to impact your sleep and keep you awake.
However, it is an organic compound that you’re digesting. It is possible for creatine to affect your digestion and cause stomach issues. If you’re used to supplementing with creatine at other times of the day, you’d hope this isn’t an issue. That being said, you never know how your body might react.
Like all good science, I conducted my own little experiment whilst writing this blog. Over the period of a week I had 5g of creatine before I went to bed, which is around 10pm for me.
Sometimes I took my scoop with some milk, in a shake or dry scooped creatine with a bit of water.
The result? No impact on my sleep. Certainly no negative impacts.
I can usually spring out of bed around 5:30-6am (with the aid of an alarm) and either be at the gym in 30 mins or sat down blogging. During my mini-experiment, I carried on this routine with no problems.
In a well-cited clinical trial study from 2006, creatine was tested on 19 sleep deprived individuals. 10 people had 5g of creatine before bed, 9 people had a placebo.
After being sleep deprived for 24 hours, there was a significant difference in performance between the creatine and placebo group for cognitive tasks. It was concluded that creatine supplementation had a positive impact on mood and helped people to function better on less sleep.
In a more recent 2019 paper on creatine and the brain, it was explained how creatine is likely to exert an extra influence when cognitive processes are stressed, for example during sleep deprivation.
Being a recently new parent, my sleep patterns have been all over the place, including periods of deprivation and certainly broken sleep. However, if you haven’t been deprived of sleep the impacts may be minimal.
Does creatine keep you awake?
Creatine is not a stimulant.
It does not contain caffeine or any other stims and will not spike activity in your central nervous system and make you more neurologically alert.
Anecdotally speaking, some individuals have said that creatine stops them from going back to sleep once they’ve woken up in the early to mid hours of the morning.
Many have said that this is because creatine reduces the total amount of sleep needed.
Backing this thought is a 2018 study on creatine supplementation before sleep on rats. Measuring sleep-wake behaviour and brain energy metabolism, it was concluded that creatine monohydrate supplementation reduced sleep need and sleep pressure.
This indicated that creatine could possibly be used in humans to treat sleep related disorders.
Benefits of taking creatine before bed
The role of creatine is to recycle ATP and make more intramuscular energy available.
At night you don’t really want more energy in your muscles. In theory, your skeletal muscles shouldn’t be using much energy anyway. Your brain is still active though.
Did you know that your brain uses about 20% of your total energy? It’s one of the most energy demanding parts of your body.
At night when you’re asleep, your brain is still working, albeit on different tasks to help you recover, replenish and feel rested. This all requires ATP.
The good news for sleep is that creatine doesn’t provide energy through calories, unlike macros such as carbohydrates. Creatine helps with energy in your muscles during exercise by providing a phosphate to ADP (adenosine di-phosphate) to regenerate ATP (adenosine tri-phosphate), which is your main energy currency.
Studies have shown that creatine can reduce muscle soreness and muscle damage, and thus speed up recovery. Creatine may be particularly relevant in improving the rate of recovery following injury. Other studies have also shown the opposite or that creatine has no effect.
So, the jury is still out on if creatine speeds up muscle recovery and reduces damage. As said, all individuals respond differently. Creatine may benefit you in this area so it might be worth giving it a try.
Potential benefits of creatine before bed:
- Positive effect on mood state the next day
- Improved short term memory
- Improved cognitive functioning in cognitively stressed individuals, e.g. sleep deprived
- Improved muscle recovery and reduced soreness
Potential issues of taking creatine before bed
For the vast majority of people, supplementing with creatine is entirely safe.
Of the countless studies, there are no major side effects to creatine supplementation.
As with most things, a small percentage of individuals may have slightly different reactions. Some potential issues sometimes associated with creatine use that may present themselves if you take it before bed include:
- Upset stomach issues
There is no real evidence that creatine has any other side-effects and safety issues, such as the sometimes reported liver and kidney problems or even weight gain.
Should I take creatine in the morning or at night?
From all of the studies on creatine, two periods stand out as the best time to take it:
It’s recommended to take creatine around 30 minutes before a workout to top up your muscular levels. After all, creatine should come into its own during those intense workouts and will help you bust out those extra reps.
In a 2013 study on pre and post workout creatine supplementation, there were no statistically significant results in relation to gains in fat free muscle amongst recreational bodybuilders. However, of the two timings, post-workout seems more superior.
It seems there’s good evidence to suggest that it’s slightly more beneficial to take creatine post-workout. It can help shuttle nutrients into the muscles to replenish and recover as soon as possible.
When do you train?
The question of whether to take creatine in the morning or at night then largely depends on when you train. Or at least that’s a good recommendation.
What about if you don’t train every day then?
In this instance, it’s best to take creatine whenever is best for your routine. Even when you’re not training, it’s recommended to take creatine on rest days too. The bottom line is to prioritise taking creatine regularly on a daily basis regardless of the time.
For me, it’s easier to remember to take creatine in the morning when I’m in the kitchen preparing for the day. It also helps that I prefer to lift weights in the morning anyway.
If you’re more likely to remember to take creatine at night when you’re prepping for the next day – and it doesn’t impact your sleep or stomach – then take creatine before bed. I know someone who takes it just before they brush their teeth as they’ll remember this way. And naturally, it doesn’t impact their sleep in a negative way.
Wrap up on can you take creatine before you go to bed
There is no evidence to suggest that you can’t take creatine before bed.
I’ve taken creatine before I go to sleep in the past and it has had no impact. I even tested this as I prepared this article by taking creatine for 7 nights in a row. The result was actually positive for my sleep. This may be because I’m getting less than the ideal 8 hours. All the more reason to take it then for me!
Some people have said that creatine has impacted their sleep. However, any issues with sleep is likely to be caused by other more major influences, such as training in the evening or eating a meal just before bed, which both have physiological impacts.
On the whole and for the vast majority of people, you can take creatine before you go to bed.
If you liked that, you’ll enjoy these blogs…