Guest post written by Derek Martina, a fitness transformation, gym fanatic, and owner of the website derekmartina.com.
Attention all pre-workout drinking insomniacs.
Do you love taking pre-workout when hitting the gym but struggle to get a good night’s sleep?
You’re not alone. I know this feeling all too well.
After an amazing gym session, I would often find myself experiencing a form of insomnia, lying in bed, wide awake, and unable to drift off to sleep.
It wasn’t until I started researching the topic that I realized the connection between pre-workout and sleep quality.
Let’s explore the reasons why you can’t sleep after taking pre-workouts. I’ll also share some practical solutions to help you get the best of both worlds.
So Can A Pre-Workout Affect Your Sleep And Cause Insomnia?
Yes, pre-workout supplements can affect sleep and cause insomnia. Pre-workout contains many ingredients that can interfere with sleep and make it harder to fall asleep.
Not only that but taking it too close to bedtime can reduce the quality and duration of your sleep.
What Is Insomnia?
Insomnia is a sleep disorder. It makes it difficult for you to fall asleep or stay asleep.
This leaves you feeling tired and sluggish the next day. It affects your daily activities and overall productivity.
How Can Pre-Workouts Cause Insomnia?
Your pre-workout can cause insomnia for different reasons. They usually contain high amounts of stimulating ingredients which can make you feel more alert and give you a boost in energy.
Which ingredient is the primary cause?
Meet Caffeine Anhydrous
It is a form of caffeine that is dehydrated. It is a white, odorless, and bitter-tasting powder and is by far the most common stimulant used in pre – workouts.
Doses of caffeine in pre-workout supplements vary greatly. Ranging anywhere from 100mg to over 400mg per serving.
It is widely used because, it is absorbed quickly into the bloodstream and can provide a burst of energy, mental alertness, and increased focus.
Only great news for your gym session!
Or it is?
How Much Caffeine Is Too Much?
Consuming too much caffeine can have negative side effects on sleep quality which could lead to insomnia.
Not only that, but it can also increase your heart rate, and blood pressure, and make you feel jittery.
Caffeine intake of up to 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine per day is considered by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be safe for most healthy adults. Consuming more than that is not recommended.
This is equivalent to roughly four or five cups of brewed coffee, or ten 12-ounce cans of coca cola.
But the next fact is especially important to know.
Your body usually takes about 4 to 6 hours to metabolize around 50% of the caffeine. This is called the half-life of caffeine.
So taking a pre-workout at 6 pm before your night gym session may keep you awake well past midnight.
Assessing Your Caffeine Tolerance
So here’s the deal with figuring out your caffeine tolerance. We are all different and react differently to caffeine. Different in age, weight, and overall health.
So when assessing your tolerance you don’t want to just go and chug a whole tub of pre – workout on your first go. This will take you straight to jitter town, especially if you’re new to pre – workouts. Here’s a list of the best pre – workouts for those new to the supplement.
Start with a serving that contains a low dose of caffeine, around 100mg. This could be one, half, or even one-third of a regular serving depending on the specific pre-workout you have.
Then gradually work your way up until you find the perfect balance of boost in energy and focus without any nasty side effects.
But caffeine isn’t the only ingredient that needs to be discussed.
Pre-workouts also commonly contain the following ingredients. Luckily not all of them have been shown to affect sleep negatively.
4 Other Common Ingredients
These 4 other ingredients could also positively of negatively affect your ability to fall asleep at night:
- L- Citrulline or Citrulline Malate
L-Theanine, which is found in tea leaves, is often paired with caffeine in pre-workouts as it can improve cognitive performance and increases alertness.
But it will also reduce some of the negative effects of caffeine.
In other words, you’ll get sustained focus and an energy boost from caffeine with fewer side effects like feeling jittery.
A pre-workout with this supplement is desirable. However, many supplements that include L-Theanine have higher amounts of caffeine.
Creatine is a popular ingredient used in pre-workout supplements to increase muscle strength and power.
Creatine will directly stimulate adenosine triphosphate (ATP), your body’s natural energy supply. It creates more muscle fuel, which will help you gain muscle and strength.
Creatine offers great benefits but it can also reduce time spent in deep sleep.
Try taking creatine in the morning if it disrupts your sleep.
Another commonly found ingredient in pre-workout is beta-alanine. It is a non-essential amino acid that plays an important role in delaying fatigue during high-intensity exercise.
It will help improve your athletic performance and increase your strength and endurance. You’ll know that you consumed beta-alanine when you start feeling that tingling sensation on your skin.
There isn’t much research on how beta-alanine affects sleep.
L- Citrulline or Citrulline Malate
L-Citrulline is an amino acid that plays an important role in the production of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide will then help increase your blood flow and improve your sports performance in the gym.
How it is different from citrulline malate?
The main difference between the two is that Citrulline Malate includes malic acid while L-Citrulline does not. Malic acid is believed to have great benefits, help increase energy production and reduce muscle fatigue.
6 Solutions to Keep Drinking Pre-Workout And Still Sleep Great
If you love to take a pre-workout but hate the struggles with getting quality sleep, don’t worry!
Here are 6 solutions you can try to still get the benefits of a pre-workout without the negative impact on your sleep.
1. Switch To A Low-Caffeine Pre-Workout
One solution is to use a low-caffeine pre-workout. Look for supplements that have a caffeine content of 150mg or less per serving. You get a boost of energy without messing up your system.
You can also consider a “non-stim” (stimulant-free) pre-workout. It doesn’t contain any stimulants like caffeine but does have ingredients that help you get results in the gym.
Low caffeine and non-stim pre-workouts are great options if you are sensitive to stimulants.
2. Do Morning Workouts
Don’t want to lower the caffeine? No problem.
Take a pre-workout and hit the gym in the morning instead of at night. By doing so you can give your body enough time before bedtime to metabolize the caffeine.
The result? You’ll better be able to fall asleep more easily and get a better night’s rest. If you have to hit the gym at night, try to avoid using a pre-workout with stimulants like caffeine.
Here is a list of the best pre-workouts you can buy on Amazon that will give you a solid dose of caffeine.
3. Start Journaling Before Bed
Say bye-bye to the worries of the day that might keep you up at night.
Journaling before bed is highly underrated. Creating a daily habit of taking 5 minutes to journal before bed can help you fall asleep faster. You get to put all your busy thoughts and feelings on paper and empty your mind.
This will create a sense of closure and will help reduce any stress and anxiety you might be experiencing. You will be able to relax and unwind more easily, and as a result, fall asleep faster.
Don’t know how to start? Read this article on how to start journaling.
4. Use Supplements For Better Sleep
Another solution you could try is to supplement with natural sleep supplements like melatonin or magnesium.
Melatonin regulates your sleep-wake cycle. It can help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly. The mineral magnesium promotes relaxation and improved sleep quality.
5. Drink Chamomile Tea
Chamomile tea is a natural sleep aid that can help calm your nervous system and promote relaxation. Drinking a cup of chamomile tea before bedtime can help you wind down and prepare for a good night’s sleep.
6. Turn Off Blue Light Screens
Avoid looking at screens like TV or cellphone for at least one hour before bed.
The blue light emitted by these devices can disrupt your sleep-wake cycle and make it harder to fall asleep.
Instead, try reading a book or practicing a relaxing activity like yoga or stretching.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long before bed can I take pre-workout?
Avoid taking pre-workout supplements 4-6 hours before you plan to go to bed. The reason is that pre-workouts usually contain stimulants like caffeine can have an impact on sleep and cause disrupted sleep.
How long will pre-workout keep me awake?
This varies depending on the ingredients in the pre-workout and also your individual tolerance.
Assuming that your pre-workout has a stimulant like caffeine, it’s best to avoid taking it 4-6 hours before bed if you want good-quality sleep.
Why can’t I sleep after pre-workout?
Pre-workouts usually contain ingredients like caffeine. It will give you a boost of energy and make you alert. While great for the gym, it can also make it difficult to fall asleep.
How do you sleep after taking pre-workout?
If you take it right before bed, probably not great. Stimulants in pre-workouts like caffeine are known for disrupting your sleep and could lead to insomnia.
This depends on the stimulant, the amount you consumed, and your personal tolerance to the stimulants of course. But it’s best to avoid taking a pre-workout within 4-6 hours of your bedtime.
When it comes to pre-workouts and sleep quality, there are a few important key points to always keep in mind.
One of the more common ingredients in pre-workouts is caffeine.
It offers numerous benefits such as increased energy and focus. But too much caffeine can have negative effects on sleep.
If you have issues falling asleep after taking pre-workout there are many solutions that you can try out.
Try working out in the morning and switch to a low-caffeine pre-workout. Use natural sleep supplements like melatonin and magnesium.
Make yourself a nice cup of chamomile tea which can promote relaxation and improve sleep quality. Avoiding screens for at least one hour before bedtime can also help you fall asleep faster.
If you include these solutions in your daily routine, you will be snoozing like a baby in no time.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Derek has gone through his own personal fitness transformation. He is passionate about the gym, helping others achieve their own fitness success, and is a writer at derekmartina.com
Rob is a Certified Personal Trainer and Nutrition Coach through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. For the past 10 years, Rob has been navigating the health and fitness landscape to better himself and those around him, focusing on tools such as calorie and macro counting, intermittent fasting, and HIIT training techniques.