Do You Use Pre-workout At Night?
Consuming pre-workout at night can make it difficult to fall asleep, reduce sleep time, and quality. It is recommended to use pre-workout in the mornings or during the day so that caffeine is flushed from your body prior to sleep. It is best to drink it 6 or more hours prior to bedtime to allow caffeine levels to decrease.
Pre-workout supplements are designed to boost your energy levels, sharpen your focus, increase your strength and elevate your endurance. Exactly what you want when you’re getting ready to hit the gym, but not exactly what you want when you’re getting ready to hit the hay.
That said, lots of people like to get their workout in at the end of the day (or maybe their schedule forces them to).
- Is it a good idea to use a preworkout at night?
- Should you skip them (and the performance boost they give you)?
- Is there a way to use a preworkout at night and not throw your sleep cycles all out of whack?
Let’s dig deeper and find out.
1. Caffeine and other energy-boosting stimulants found in pre-workout supplements can disrupt sleep.
2. If you must take a pre-workout at night give yourself ample amount of time before bedtime. At least 6 or more hours.
Can You Take Pre Workout at Night?
It’s most often recommended to take pre-workout supplements in the morning or early afternoon, as they are designed to provide energy and increase focus and alertness. Taking a pre-workout supplement at night may interfere with sleep, as the stimulants it contains could make it difficult to fall asleep or cause disrupted sleep.
On top of that, pre-workout supplements are intended to enhance physical performance and increase energy levels during exercise, which may not be necessary or beneficial at night. If possible, you want to try and time your workouts for the morning or the early afternoon to make the most of the energy boosting properties of these supplements.
Christopher Drake, Ph. D wrote an article in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine titled: “Caffeine Effects on Sleep Taken 0, 3, or 6 Hours before Going to Bed”
His study showed that caffeine consumption as early as 6 hours prior to bedtime can have a negative impact on sleep. That caffeine will have you wired whether you realize it or not,
“The magnitude of reduction in total sleep time suggests that caffeine taken 6 hours before bedtime has important disruptive effects on sleep and provides empirical support for sleep hygiene recommendations to refrain from substantial caffeine use for a minimum of 6 hours prior to bedtime.”Christopher Drake, Ph. D
Should You Take It At Night?
Truth be told, there are a couple of reasons you’ll want to avoid taking a pre-workout supplement at night.
For starters – as we highlighted a moment ago – these supplements are designed to jack up your energy levels through the roof. You’re going to (almost immediately, but certainly within 30 minutes after consumption) start feeling a bit of a “buzz” – just the right jolt to really pound it out in the gym.
That’s not going to help you get to sleep, especially since it’s possible for the energy spike delivered by pre-workout supplements to last four hours (or longer).
You’re talking about a real recipe for disaster if you’re consuming these supplements just a couple of hours before you plan on going to bed.
Secondly, even if you are able to fall asleep after consuming a pre-workout supplement and hitting the gym you’re going to discover pretty quickly that the caliber and quality of sleep you get is pretty terrible.
A grueling workout might just knock you out physically, but those pre-workout supplement compounds are still going to be flowing throughout your bloodstream. They are still going to be delivering their payload of “benefits”, and that means they are going to be working overtime to energize you – not to help you get better quality sleep.
A lot of athletes that use pre-workout supplements towards the end of the day find that they wake up in the morning even more exhausted than they were after their training session.
If at all possible, really try to make sure that you aren’t consuming supplements with caffeine within six or more hours before bedtime.
Any closer than that and you are asking for trouble!
How Can I “Come Down from a Pre-workout to Get Some Sleep at Night?
Let’s just say, though, that there’s no real getting around using a pre-workout towards the end of the day – or even into the early to late evening.
Maybe that’s just the way that your fitness schedule shakes out. Some folks have to work with this reality, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to give up on all the big benefits that pre-workout supplements do really bring to the table.
What you’ll need to do, though, is be pretty smart and strategic about how you use your pre-workout supplements – and maybe “stack” though supplements with other supplements designed to calm you down, to bring your energy levels down, and to help make sleep come a little easier.
For one thing, consider using ½ dosage of pre-workout rather than the whole enchilada when you are working out later on in the day.
You’ll still get a bit of the pick me up you’re looking for. You’ll still get an energy spike and better oxygenation, better blood flow, and improved stamina and strength. But you won’t have to worry about these benefits lasting quite as long as a full dosage would have.
Sure, they’ll be some reduction in the benefits that ½ dosage of pre-workout provides. But that’s to be expected, and it’s often not such a significant reduction that it’s not worth taking any pre-workout supplement at all.
It would be better, for sure, if you use the full dosage earlier in the day. But when you have to workout and grind at night this is a fantastic alternative well worth consideration.
Can I Use Melatonin To Combat The Effects Of Caffeine?
I can’t recommend it. It’s always better to arrange your schedule so that you get adequate sleep. Even if that means putting the pre-workout back on the shelf. Sleep is more beneficial than drinking it anyway.
And if it is something you are considering, be sure to consult a physician first. Everyone is different but melatonin has never been a good experience for me. I get nightmares or fall asleep really fast only to spring out of bed a couple of hours later wide awake. Then totally sluggish not long afterward.
Melatonin has a host of side effects that come with it and if you want to know more, this article from the Mayo Clinic goes into the pros and cons.
Pre-workout Alternatives That Have Less Impact On Sleep
My favorite is iced green tea without sugar. It has about ⅓ the caffeine as a cup of coffee. Yes, it can keep some of us awake. But, in my experience, not enough to interfere with my sleep if I drink it a couple of hours prior.
My article about natural pre-workout alternatives lists several practical options that provide an energy kick with fewer side effects of a pre-workout powder.
Pre-Workout At Night – In Summary
At the end of the day, there are certainly ways that you can get the most out of top-quality pre-workout supplements when you are working out later in the day (or even in the evening) without throwing your rest and recovery cycles all out of whack.
This does require a little bit of extra thought upfront, some strategic timing, and maybe even half dosages of your favorite pre-workout supplements – but it can be done!
All of this will help you get visited by The Sandman a little sooner than you would have if you let a full dose of pre-workout course through your body within six hours of bedtime. Your body will thank you for the sleep and you’ll reap the benefits of working out all the sooner.
References and Citations
Drake, C., Roehrs, T., Shambroom, J., & Roth, T. (2013, November 15). Caffeine effects on sleep taken 0, 3, or 6 hours before going to bed. Journal of clinical sleep medicine : JCSM : official publication of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Retrieved January 5, 2023, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3805807/
Brent A. Bauer, M. D. (2022, October 28). Pros and cons of Melatonin. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved January 5, 2023, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/expert-answers/melatonin-side-effects/faq-20057874
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