Creatine is a naturally occurring compound found in small amounts in certain foods and produced by the body. It is crucial in producing energy during high-intensity, short-duration activities like weightlifting or sprinting. However, can and should you take creatine before bed?
There is no current evidence indicating that creatine leads to sleep disruptions, and currently, creatine timing (in the morning vs the evening) does not impact the supplement’s efficacy. Take creatine daily and choose a time during the day that will make you most likely to adhere to your supplementation protocol.
You may wonder why some athletes have sleep disruptions while using creatine or where this myth comes from. So, we will do a deep dive into all the literature surrounding creatine and sleep and hopefully provide peace of mind that creatine can be taken at any time of day.
Table of Contents
Does Creatine Affect Sleep?
When athletes mention difficulties with sleep when using creatine, an important question arises: Are sleep disturbances caused by creatine itself, or could they be linked to higher training load or intensity altering sleep patterns?
One study on rats  suggested that creatine supplementation in rats “increases wakefulness and reduces the homeostatic sleep response after sleep deprivation.”
This implies that creatine might be associated with decreased sleep or altered sleep patterns.
However, it’s important to note that this study was conducted on rats, and the translation of these findings to humans may not be straightforward.
Human intervention studies on the impact of creatine and sleep duration or sleep patterns have not yet been done.
Creatine is not a stimulant like caffeine, and sleep disruptions have not been mentioned in side effect studies . There is currently no solid evidence that creatine causes sleep disruptions or improvements.
Creatine And Sleep Deprivation
Certain studies suggest that creatine might mitigate insufficient sleep’s cognitive and performance effects. However, there are a few crucial details to consider, so let’s take a closer look at the study designs.
The first study  was done on 19 individuals who were divided into 2 groups: a creatine group (10 participants) and a placebo group (9 participants).
The participants were predominantly male, with 16 being male and 3 being female, and had to undergo sleep deprivation for 24 hours.
The study found that taking creatine supplements might help reduce the negative impacts of 24 hours of sleep deprivation on cognitive and psychomotor performance and mood. However, there were no noticeable effects after 6 and 12 hours of sleep deprivation.
Using creatine to offset sleep deprivation might only work if you pull an all-nighter. It should also be considered that this is a small sample and a single study.
A second study by the same authors  followed 20 male participants. It only partially supported the idea that creatine supplementation might positively impact cognitive and psychomotor performance and mood during 36 hours of sleep deprivation with moderate-intensity exercise.
The study found that creatine helps with complex tasks that challenge the brain’s energy production, especially those involving the prefrontal cortex (the part of your brain that regulates thoughts, actions, and emotions).
However, contrary to the first study, it didn’t show significant benefits for simpler tasks, balance, or mood during sleep deprivation.
The data hint that effort is crucial for performance during sleep deprivation, whether or not creatine is taken. In summary, creatine is helpful for specific cognitive tasks in specific situations.
Lastly, in 10 professional rugby backs , elite rugby players showed decreased skill performance due to lack of sleep (3 – 5 hours per night).
To counter this, they tried caffeine or creatine supplements, which had similar positive effects on skill performance.
This suggests these supplements could be practical options before training or competitions when sleep is lacking.
However, these studies do not suggest that you can take creatine as a “band aid” or a replacement for a good night’s sleep.
It means that, in certain population groups that have experienced sleep deprivation (in two of the studies, a full night or more), creatine can be beneficial in the short term, and more research is needed on the topic.
If you use it to mitigate the effects of sleep deprivation, it should be for one or two nights of poor sleep and not habitual sleep neglect.
No studies show that creatine will still be beneficial over the long term if you do not sleep well, and sleep is essential for training response and optimizing body composition.
Is It Better To Take Creatine In The Morning Or Night?
Currently, there are hypotheses but no solid evidence explaining how the timing of creatine intake might boost the benefits of resistance training .
Overall, there are not many studies comparing the intake of creatine before bed or during other times of the day, but the ones that can be found indicate that it does not make a difference in your overall muscle, strength, and performance gains.
In one study , male bodybuilders took a supplement with whey protein, glucose, and creatine before and after workouts (PRE-POST group) or in the morning and before sleep on training days (Morning-Evening group).
After 10 weeks, the PRE-POST group showed more significant increases in muscle creatine levels, lean tissue mass, muscle fiber size, total protein, and strength compared to the Morning-Evening group.
However, the study had limitations, such as not assessing creatine alone (participants were taking other supplements), lacking a control group, estimating dietary intake, and not determining the optimal timing for creatine consumption.
I want to highlight from that study that the participants used 40g of whey protein isolate and 43g of glucose (carbs) in the multi-ingredient supplement .
If used after a workout, these nutrients would have contributed to recovery post-workout by restoring glycogen stores and optimizing muscle protein synthesis, leading to gains in a different way than taking protein and carbs in the morning and pre-bed .
This means that the differences in the groups were much more likely due to the timing of carbs and protein than the timing of creatine intake.
In a recent study  on creatine timing in the morning vs. the evening, 14 female athletes were given creatine supplements after morning (8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.) or evening (6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.) resistance training sessions for 12 weeks.
The creatine dosage was higher for the first 5 days (0.3 grams/kg/d) and lower afterward (0.03 grams/kg/d).
On non-training days, they took creatine at any time. After the study, both morning and evening groups showed increased upper-body power and lower-body strength, but the creatine timing didn’t make a difference.
Based on existing literature, the consensus is that the timing of creatine intake, whether in the morning or evening, does not influence performance or body composition outcomes.
Can You Take Creatine Before Bed?
As mentioned, creatine is unlikely to disrupt sleep, and whether you take it in the morning or the evening does not matter.
However, when doing a load, it makes sense to take one of the 4 doses (usually 5g or 0.3g/kg) in the evening before bed.
Add a pre-bed protein source, like casein protein, to your bedtime routine to optimize muscle gains even more. Research shows that adding protein before bed can help to increase muscle protein synthesis without adding fat .
There is insufficient evidence that creatine timing before bedtime, in the morning, or before/after exercise is best. When you take creatine is less important than taking creatine every day, even on rest days, and at the correct dosages.
It is safe to take creatine before bed, and there is no concrete evidence that creatine should be disruptive to sleep.
Taking creatine before bed, especially during a load, is practical, especially if you link it to a habit like brushing your teeth or taking a pre-bed protein shake.
- Dworak, M., Kim, T., Mccarley, R. W., & Basheer, R. (2017). Creatine supplementation reduces sleep need and homeostatic sleep pressure in rats. Journal of sleep research, 26(3), 377–385. https://doi.org/10.1111/jsr.12523
- Francaux, M., & Poortmans, J. R. (2006). Side effects of creatine supplementation in athletes. International journal of sports physiology and performance, 1(4), 311–323. https://doi.org/10.1123/ijspp.1.4.311
- Cook, C. J., Crewther, B. T., Kilduff, L. P., Drawer, S., & Gaviglio, C. M. (2011). Skill execution and sleep deprivation: effects of acute caffeine or creatine supplementation – a randomized placebo-controlled trial. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 8, 2. https://doi.org/10.1186/1550-2783-8-2
- McMorris, T., Harris, R. C., Swain, J., Corbett, J., Collard, K., Dyson, R. J., Dye, L., Hodgson, C., & Draper, N. (2006). Effect of creatine supplementation and sleep deprivation, with mild exercise, on cognitive and psychomotor performance, mood state, and plasma concentrations of catecholamines and cortisol. Psychopharmacology, 185(1), 93–103. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00213-005-0269-z
- McMorris, T., Harris, R. C., Howard, A. N., Langridge, G., Hall, B., Corbett, J., Dicks, M., & Hodgson, C. (2007). Creatine supplementation, sleep deprivation, cortisol, melatonin and behavior. Physiology & behavior, 90(1), 21–28. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.physbeh.2006.08.024
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