Short answer: Yes, pre-workout supplements can cause insomnia. The caffeine and other stimulants in these supplements can keep you up at night if taken too close to bedtime.
Pre-workouts are a popular way to get amped up for a workout.
But recent studies have shown that they might also be causing insomnia.
No doubt they may help you with the jolt of energy, focus, and strength required for a strenuous workout routine, but you might experience one of the severe side effects – Insomnia.
The supplement industry has shifted toward stimulant-loaded pre-workouts in the past few years. While they may work for some, unless you’re one of the many people who exercise late at night, you might be suffering.
Caffeine is the main element of stimulant-packed pre-workouts has been known to be the reason for impaired sleep.
However, is it solely caffeine to blame for sleep disruption, or are there other factors too?
In this article, I’ve covered all underlying factors that can contribute to insomnia and how we can counter them to achieve a good night’s sleep after taking a pre-workout.
Does pre-workout affect sleep?
The straightforward answer to this question would be Yes!
Pre-workouts can affect your sleep badly; they may cause insomnia by disrupting your circadian rhythm and sleep cycle.
Let me explain how:
While taking a stim-free pre-workout in the evening is fine, certain stimulant-rich pre-workouts comprising substantial amounts of caffeine are not.
Pre-workout supplements are high in stimulants, especially caffeine, to provide you with the energy essential to perform a workout.
We are all aware that caffeine keeps you awake, and according to research, it also triggers those fight or flight hormones (epinephrine and norepinephrine) that keep you wired throughout the day.
Some pre-workout supplements usually include 200-300mg of caffeine per serving. In contrast, studies show that an 8oz cup of coffee provides an average of 95mg of caffeine.
Imagine if you can sleep comfortably after drinking 3-4 cups of coffee a few hours before going to bed? Definitely Not!
Now you should understand that everyone would keep rolling in their beds after an evening workout if they take a caffeine-rich pre-workout supplement.
Moreover, this condition may worsen if you’re caffeine-sensitive, which means you’re slow at tolerating even a small amount of caffeine. This slow metabolism won’t let you remove it from your body as quickly, and even consuming it at midday may have an effect on your sleep.
And, insomnia is no joke. It can leave you exhausted and possibly hinder your progress.
According to this report, Caffeine consumption at night may result in insomnia, anxiety, frequent overnight awakenings, and decreased overall sleep quality.
In this scenario, what can be possibly done?
To combat this, you will need to make some smart decisions like seeking components that provide the same level of power and vitality and aid in sleep.
To make things convenient for you, I’ve researched some incredible ingredients that will benefit both gym and sleep. Let’s have a look:
L-theanine is a naturally occurring amino acid mostly found in green and black tea. It assists in combating the jittery and wired feelings created by excessive caffeine consumption by diverting the energy where it is most needed.
Research also reveals that L-theanine may affect the concentrations of some brain neurotransmitters. These include serotonin and dopamine, which affect mood, sleep quality, and emotions.
Additionally, this study indicated that L-theanine might help people relax before going to bed, fall asleep more quickly, and sleep more profoundly.
Creatine is yet another chemical compound that your body naturally produces. It is stored predominantly in skeletal muscle, where it contributes to energy production and muscular power.
Creatine is unbeatable for increasing strength, power, and lean muscle mass. Your body needs ATP to create energy, and Creatine helps you get more of it.
A recent study discovered that supplementing with Creatine has almost the same effect as caffeine on increasing athletic performance in sleep-deprived individuals.
Moreover, although there’s little evidence that supplementing with Creatine improves or impairs sleep, there’s evidence that it can help reduce the consequences of sleep deprivation.
Hence it’s pretty clear that the use of Creatine provides the same benefits as caffeine without the negative side effects such as insomnia. Instead, Creatine may aid with sleep too.
Nitric oxide is a vasodilator; it dilates the blood vessels in your muscles, allowing for increased blood flow. This causes your veins to swell and your muscles to expand.
Pre-workouts often contain compounds that your body needs to generate nitric oxide. Some examples are L-arginine, L-citrulline, and dietary nitrates like beetroot juice.
Supplementing with these elements has been shown to increase oxygen and nutrient delivery to the muscles, potentially improving athletic performance.
But can NO help with insomnia?
L-arginine has an effect on sleep because it is a precursor to nitric oxide. Nitric oxide relaxes blood arteries when it is delivered into the bloodstream.
According to this journal, L-arginine supplementation may protect against endothelial damage and hypertension caused by REM sleep deprivation.
How to fall asleep after pre-workout?
If you’re someone who likes to work out late at night but has trouble sleeping afterward, you’re not alone.
Most people consider taking a pre-workout supplement at one point or another to raise their energy levels when they’re feeling a little low.
However, the real issue arises if you’re slow to metabolize it, making it difficult to get a good night’s sleep following your workout. And you regret taking it in the first place.
For this scenario, I have devised some suggestions or tactics that may assist you in getting quality sleep following a pre-workout.
So feel free to take the following tips into consideration:
Take a shower with lukewarm water
While it has been found that warm showers promote sleep, this logic must be modified slightly for anyone who exercises in the evening.
Because your body temperature will be elevated after a workout, a hot shower may impair your potential to sleep by elevating it even higher, and a cold shower can stimulate alertness.
Therefore, to maintain balance after a rigorous workout, taking a shower with lukewarm water is beneficial since it feels comforting and soothing.
Turn off screens
Switch off screens and bright lights 30 minutes before you begin to relax totally.
Workouts tire and fatigue you, and watching LED screens or using your phone afterward can make you feel even more drained.
So it is advisable to turn off your screen time after a strenuous workout.
According to research, the blue light emitted by an LED-backlit computer monitor drastically reduces the generation of melatonin (a hormone responsible for the sleep-wake cycle) by 91%.
Thus, taking a break from late-night phone use is critical for a good night’s sleep.
Try sleep aids
In addition to helping you fall asleep faster, sleeping pills also increase the quality of sleep.
When you get a good night’s sleep, you will wake up feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.
I propose choosing one with L-Theanine content, which is being \clinically proven to ensure relaxation and stress relief without being sedative.
L-theanine may contribute to the development of calm and alert wakefulness too.
Drink a lot of water
To combat the impacts of pre-workout on your system, diluting it with water is a good idea.
Drinking enough water will dilute the intensity of the chemicals in your system, but the total quantity of the ingredients in your system will remain unchanged.
Water will aid it to pass through your body much more quickly, enabling you to urinate it out rather fast if you drink plenty of it.
Once the supplement is out of your system through urination, you may be able to sleep.
Adjust Workout Timing for future
Pre-workout should be taken approximately half an hour before your gym session.
If it disrupts your sleeping pattern, it is ideal to workout out when you can benefit from the additional energy provided by the stimulating elements.
For example, let us say you start your pre-workout at 8 pm. It will remain in your systems for several hours, maybe until 2 am.
Therefore, it’s better to adjust your timings, keeping in mind the ingredients’ half-life (how long it lasts).
Puke it out
For the worst situation, if you’re having so much trouble after taking a pre-workout supplement and nothing else helps you fall asleep, it’s recommended to puke it out.
But it is important to act fast because it will only eliminate what has not been absorbed in the stomach.
This is the least desired way to get rid of it from your system, so try avoiding it at all costs.
As you can see, insomnia is a real condition, and caffeine-rich supplements can exacerbate the problem.
Thus, it is recommended to choose a caffeine-free pre-workout or has a negligible quantity of caffeine.
If you are planning an evening workout, consider a pre-workout with ingredients that will assist you in both ways, such as providing you with the same amount of energy without interfering with your sleep cycle.
But, even if you choose one that contains caffeine, you can use the strategies mentioned above to promote better sleep.
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