Creatine is popular among those looking to build muscle, but did you know it could affect sleep as well?
This article explains the benefits of creatine beyond just physical performance and how creatine supplementation may in fact improve sleep.
After all, if a go-to supplement among the fitness community can double as a therapeutic sleeping agent, it’s definitely something to talk about.
What Is Creatine?
Creatine is a natural supplement that is commonly taken to improve physical performance. It is an amino acid that is mainly found in the muscles and brain.
While it is naturally found in many foods such as red meat, poultry, and seafood, many people take supplemental creatine to have added benefit.
Taking 1-3 grams of creatine daily is necessary to maintain normal creatine levels in the body, but often even higher doses are taken to reap enhanced performance benefits (1).
Why People Take Creatine
Creatine increases the amount of phosphocreatine in muscles, which is necessary for the production of ATP.
ATP is the primary source of energy that the body uses to produce energy for every basic function that we need to stay alive.
During exercise, ATP is broken down to produce energy.
Since the human body is limited in exercise by the amount of ATP available, creatine helps with endurance, especially with high-intensity workouts, by increasing the amount of creatine that is available.
How Creatine Affects Sleep
Research suggests the benefits of creatine beyond physical performance. In fact, creatine supplementation may help with energy levels too, and can reduce the effects of sleeplessness.
As explained in the previous sub-section, creatine is necessary for the production of ATP, the main source of energy in our cells.
While perhaps there is less evidence to suggest that supplementing with creatine will help or harm your sleep, there is evidence to suggest that creatine can mitigate the effects of sleep deprivation (4).
A recent study found that in sleep-deprived athletes, creatine supplementation had essentially the same effect as caffeine in improving athletic performance (5).
Perhaps one of the most profound findings with creatine and sleep suggests that creatine supplementation may reduce the amount of sleep needed to feel rested.
Creatine increases the amount of energy available – not only in muscles – but in the brain, too. This additional energy in the brain promotes brain energy restoration, making creatine supplementation a potentially fantastic supplement especially after nights of poor sleep (6).
How to Add Creatine to Your Diet
Creatine is naturally found in meats and seafood, but supplementing with creatine can offer an additional benefit. It may be especially important if you do not include creatine-rich foods in your diet, or if you follow a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.
However, it’s best not to use creatine as a supplement for protein, as protein supplements and creatine supplements are quite different.
Creatine is only one amino acid and targets muscle building, strength, and endurance. On the other hand, a protein supplement contains many amino acids, which targets muscle repair after a workout, in addition to many other functions such as skin, nail, and hair growth.
If you're worried about water retention with creatine, be sure to read our in-depth article about creatine and weight gain.
When choosing a creatine supplement, select one in powder form like our pure creatine monohydrate supplement.
You can add creatine to a smoothie/drink either before or after a workout to maximum benefits.
For sleep purposes, taking creatine the morning after a rough night of sleep may just do the trick to improve your energy and cognition. However, more research is needed to best suggest an ideal timing for creatine as it relates to improving sleep.