It's no secret that creatine is a great and versatile supplement suitable for most exercisers.
Without going into details, we can say it is an energy source. This is precisely why many exercisers wonder does creatine keep you awake if you take it in the hours leading up to bed.
You don't have to stress about it - creatine won't keep you awake at night.
In order to help you better understand why this supplement will not cause sleep deprivation and to debunk certain myths, I will take a more scientific approach to explain this topic. Let's dive in!
What Is Creatine and How Does It Work?
Creatine is an amino acid found naturally in muscle cells and the brain. When amino acids are mentioned, most of my clients first think of BCAAs - leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Creatine is also a combination of three amino acids - glycine, arginine, and methionine.
It is one of the natural sources of energy for muscle contraction. Creatine primarily provides energy during high-intensity activities when the body heavily relies on the high-energy phosphates pathway. Those activities usually last up to 30 seconds, like weightlifting and sprinting.
Here's how it works...
Skeletal muscles store creatine phosphate (phosphocreatine). Research suggests that’s the form of creatine your body finds suitable for storing and using.
Phosphocreatine is directly responsible for ATP regeneration and production. ATP is not Association of Tennis Professionals but adenosine triphosphate, the primary energy source at the cellular level.
The more ATP you have, the better your sports performance will be.
Muscle can hold about 2 g of creatine per kilogram of muscle mass, so your storage capacity depends on your muscle mass and can increase/decrease after you build muscle size.
Your liver and kidneys produce a minimal amount of creatine, about 1g per day, and the rest you take in with your diet, particularly by consuming meat and seafood.
This also speaks in favor of consuming creatine supplements because you cannot saturate the muscles enough with nutrition alone.
Related Article - BCAAs Vs Creatine (Should You Take Both For Muscle Growth?)
Benefits Of Creatine
Improved energy production, increased total workout volume, and better physical performance are the primary reasons exercisers take creatine supplementation.
There are many other benefits, and I will briefly analyze the most important roles:
Types Of Creatine
The most popular and the best is creatine monohydrate. Almost all research has included creatine monohydrate, so we know practically everything about it.
Creatine monohydrate is made of one molecule of creatine and one molecule of water.
Other types are:
Does Creatine Affect Your Sleep?
No, creatine supplementation does not affect your sleep directly. Studies focusing on how creatine may help you cope with sleep loss (more on that later) made people think that creatine could keep you awake.
Such a conclusion is indeed rational; I can't deny that. Creatine is often taken before a training session, so if you don't know how it works, you might think it is a stimulant, just like caffeine and other ingredients we can find in pre-workout supplements.
Will It Wake You Up?
Creatine won't wake you up unless you drink too much water with it and thus increasing nighttime urination. Although this may sound funny, it is true.
Very high water intake can lead to polyuria. Polyuria is when you pass more than 3 liters of urine in 24 hours. That condition is closely related to nocturia - frequent urinary episodes during the night.
Nocturia will not become chronic if you have no other underlying medical issues. However, it will be enough to limit fluid intake in the evening. If you suspect diabetes or another disease, consult your doctor.
Age is an important factor because as you age, the prostate enlarges, the musculature of the bladder weakens, and the secretion of hormones that helps you retain fluid decreases.
Creatine is safe for most older adults, but you should consider taking it earlier in the day to prevent numerous visits to the bathroom at night.
Can Creatine Cause Insomnia or Sleep Deprivation?
Creatine can't cause insomnia (sleeplessness), sleep deprivation, poor sleep, or other sleep-related disorders. You will get sufficient sleep when taking creatine daily.
There won't be negative effects on stages of sleep - REM sleep, NREM sleep (including slow-wave sleep), and deep sleep.
Once you know how creatine works, you will immediately understand that creatine is not a central nervous system stimulant.
Yes, it promotes energy metabolism, but the human body needs less energy at rest. ATP production is an ongoing cellular process, so it doesn't stop during sleep but won't make you more alert or jittery.
Can It Help You Cope With Sleep Loss?
Amazingly, creatine can help you cope with sleep loss. It might sound contradictory that creatine helps while it can help with sleep deprivation simultaneously, but get this...it’s scientifically proven.
The study about creatine and sleep led us to one of the most profound findings in this field - after 24h sleep deprivation, creatine supplementation positively affected mood, mental focus, sleepiness, and reaction time.
And not only that! The same study suggests that you would need less sleep to recover from sleep deprivation if you take creatine.
Isn't that a great way to initiate brain energy restoration and quickly pay off sleep debt after jet lag, a night shift, or an all-nighter?
Is Creatine Safe?
Yes, creatine is safe for healthy adults if you stick to a regular dosage. It is one of the safest and most researched supplements ever.
Most myths about the harmfulness of creatine supplementation come from elevated serum creatinine.
Since creatinine (a waste product) is an indicator of kidney diseases, and creatine supplementation can raise its levels, there were many claims that creatine damages the kidneys.
Those claims have been debunked in the last decade.
Do not expect approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) because they don't regulate nutritional supplements as they do with medications. When supplementing with creatine, stick to proven manufacturers to avoid any risks.
What Are Common Side Effects Of Using It?
Everything has side effects. Just check the potential side effects of NSAIDs you take more often than not, and you will understand that creatine has very few minor side effects. So, that should not deter you from using creatine supplements.
The following side effects are relatively common, especially when taking higher doses during the loading phase:
Creatine And Sleep Loss Questions
People consume creatine to improve their gym and athletic performance, gain water weight and lean body mass, accelerate recovery, and reduce fatigue. A creatine supplement can also help with insufficient sleep in sleep-deprived athletes once creatine levels are high enough.
Except for professional bodybuilders, creatine timing does not matter for improving athletic performance. It is preferable to take it either half an hour before the workout to give the body time to absorb it or half an hour after to replenish the stores. However, you will have perfectly fine results if you take it at any time during the day.
I believe it makes sense to take creatine supplement in the morning to improve energy levels throughout the day and prevent night urination. You won't go wrong if you take it before bed, either, since creatine products promote sleep and helps you feel rested.
Every person in the world is different, so we cannot take one answer as a universal truth. There is probably someone for whom creatine can negatively affect sleep. The amount of sleep needed also differs from one individual to another.
Nevertheless, it won't ruin sleep homeostasis for 99% of you because it doesn't activate a single mechanism that can do that.
Creatine is a highly effective supplement you should include in your routine, and the timing of consumption is the last thing you should worry about.