This article has been written and medically reviewed by Dr. Darshan Shingala (M.D, MPH) – a qualified and practicing medical doctor – for maximum factual accuracy and reliability.
I’ve taken pre-workout for many years on and off – mainly before intense cardio or boxing/MMA sessions to give me that extra boost.
However, I would often then spend hours and hours awake at night afterwards because I was so amped up from the stimulants and the high intensity exercise.
So how can you get to sleep after taking pre-workout?
The most effective way to sleep after taking pre-workout is to drink water to metabolize the caffeine, consume chamomile or lavender tea to calm your body, and take 0.5 mg – 2 mg of melatonin to induce sleep. Switching to a non-caffeinated preworkout brand can prevent future issues.
In the rest of this article, I have used my knowledge as a practicing medical doctor and my access to scientific journals to provide you with 6 of the most effective ways to sleep better after taking pre-workout.
Some of the steps can be applied before taking preworkout to avoid future issues, and others you can try right now to remedy the situation.
But always remember to seek immediate medical assistance if you feel unwell or suspect a caffeine overdose.
6 Ways to Sleep Better After Taking Pre-Workout
1: Drink Water and a Calming Chamomile or Lavender Tea
If you’re currently lying in bed wide awake due to pre-workout consumption, then the most effective action that you can take is to drink some water to help metabolize the caffeine, and then drink a calming chamomile or lavender tea to settle your nerves.
Strenuous physical activity and the consumption of pre-workout supplements that are loaded with caffeine can dehydrate your body.
While working out, we lose water by sweating to regulate our body temperature, which may lead to dehydration.
Furthermore, since caffeine is a mild diuretic, the consumption of caffeine-containing pre-workout supplements can flush water out of the body, resulting in dehydration .
Symptoms of dehydration include fatigue, muscle cramps, extreme lethargy, thirst, dry mouth, and headaches.
These symptoms can prevent you from sleeping, and they may also negatively impact your sleep/wake cycle in the long term.
Hence, it is important to stay hydrated and replenish the physiological water loss caused by working out, especially if you are taking a pre-workout supplement.
Adequate hydration can substantially support the process of caffeine metabolization, which will help you to fall asleep more easily after taking a pre-workout supplement.
As a rule of thumb, urine that is pale or light yellow in color is a good indicator of a well-hydrated body.
Hydration therapy is also beneficial in minimizing some of the adverse effects associated with too much caffeine consumption, including the caffeine in pre-workout supplements.
These include the inability to fall asleep, and difficulty in remaining asleep for long hours.
If you are severely dehydrated, I would strongly advise you to seek medical help for the intravenous administration of hydration fluids .
2: Consider Taking a Melatonin Supplement
If you have any melatonin supplements to hand, you might consider taking between 0.5 mg and 2 mg to help you sleep after taking pre-workout.
Melatonin, chemically known as n-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine, is a hormone that is naturally secreted by the pineal gland in response to darkness .
Melatonin is also popularly referred to as the sleep hormone, since it induces sleep when released into the blood stream at night.
Melatonin is responsible for the regulation of the sleep/wake cycle and circadian rhythm [15, 16].
Because of the body’s natural cycle of producing melatonin, using a medically formulated version of the hormone as a supplement to reset the body’s circadian rhythm is safe and useful for people who struggle to sleep .
Melatonin is a prescription-only drug in most countries, and its dosage varies from patient to patient, but generally, a dose in the range of 0.5 to 2 mg taken up to two hours before bedtime is effective and well-tolerated by the vast majority of patients [15, 16, 17].
If you are struggling to obtain a restful night’s sleep, then you may consider taking a melatonin supplement .
The safe dosage for melatonin depends on a variety of different factors, such as age, body weight, comorbidities, and other medications the patient is consuming.
Melatonin supplements that are bought over the counter are often not regulated or monitored by health care professionals, so I advise against their use.
It is also important to note that taking a melatonin supplement can influence or alter the natural production of melatonin.
Hence, I strongly encourage you to speak to your health care provider if you are considering taking any form of supplement, so that they can prescribe the correct dose for you.
3: Switch Pre-Workout Brands
If you’re struggling to sleep due to taking even the recommended dose of your current brand of pre-workout, then you might want to consider switching to a different brand with less caffeine.
Pre-workout is a dietary supplement which is consumed to increase exercise performance.
A randomized, single-blinded, placebo-controlled, parallel design clinical study found that combining high-intensity interval training (HIIT) with pre-workout supplements can improve cardiovascular fitness, maximal running velocity, and lean body mass .
However, pre-workout mixtures often contain stimulating substances, such as caffeine, to improve endurance capacity, enhance muscle power, and boost physical performance during intensive exercise and physical training [2, 3].
A standard serving of a pre-workout supplement contains about 200 to 400 milligrams of caffeine, which is equivalent to 4.5 times the amount of caffeine in a regular cup of coffee [2, 3, 4].
Therefore, if you have taken pre-workout before a challenging evening training session, it is not surprising if you find yourself tossing and turning at night, unable to get the sleep you need.
In addition to high amounts to caffeine, most pre-workout supplements are also packed with other energy-boosting substances, such as creatine monohydrate, BCAAs (branched chain amino acids), and taurine [3, 4].
Thus, I would strongly advise you to research thoroughly prior to consuming any kind of nutritional, dietary, or athletic supplements.
It is a common misconception that all supplements are similar in composition, and can provide comparable results for everyone.
There are currently several different types of pre-workouts available on the market, and you should try to choose the one that is most suitable for you.
For instance, if you are struggling with the sleep-inhibitory effects of caffeinated pre-workout supplements, then you may want to choose one that doesn’t contain stimulants.
It is important that you familiarize yourself with any potential risks or food-drug interactions associated with your potential pre-workout supplement, and make a wise and informed choice.
4: Take Pre-Workout in the Morning or Early Afternoon
The most effective way to stop preworkout from keeping you awake is to take it in the morning rather than in the evening.
Most pre-workout supplements are loaded with caffeine in excessive amounts, in order to provide the boost of energy required for intensive physical training.
However, it is well known that caffeine can interfere with the circadian rhythm and disrupt the sleep cycle .
Caffeine stimulates the nervous system by affecting the release of neurotransmitters, such as norepinephrine, dopamine, acetylcholine, and gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) [5, 6].
The psycho-stimulating effects of these neurotransmitters can alter one’s cognitive function, mood, alertness, and memory.
The effects of caffeine intake are not only influenced by the amount of caffeine consumed, but also by the time of day that it is ingested.
Studies show that it can take approximately 8 to 10 hours for caffeine to be completely eliminated from the body [5, 6, 7].
Although the time required for the metabolization of caffeine varies from person to person, even small traces of caffeine in the body have the potential to disrupt sleep.
Hence, it is often suggested by sports medicine specialists that patients ensure an adequate time interval between the intake of a pre-workout supplement and going to bed.
The best time to take a pre-workout is about 1 to 2 hours prior to a gym session, as the caffeine concentration in the blood tends to peak about 1 to 2 hours after ingestion [2, 6, 7].
In general, morning workouts are considered to be ideal, as many people are often too tired to workout out late in the evenings.
I often advise my patients to schedule their daily workouts early in the morning, as it provides a sense of accomplishment, and helps them to start their day with endorphins.
However, it is quite understandable that it might not be possible for everyone to accommodate morning workouts into their daily regimen, depending on work schedule and life priorities.
If morning workouts are not compatible with your routine, you may choose to work out in the afternoon or early in the evening, so that you have enough time to metabolize your pre-workout supplement before you go to sleep.
I would suggest that you schedule your workout no later than 4 hours prior to dinner time, and consume your pre-workout supplement 2 hours prior to working out.
By doing so, you will give yourself ample time to metabolize your pre-workout supplement before going to sleep, thereby minimizing any sleep disruptions which may be attributable to the intake of pre-workout.
5: Limit Your Daily Caffeine Intake from All Sources
Since your pre-workout supplement is likely to be loaded with high amounts of caffeine, it’s recommended that you make a conscious effort to limit your daily intake of caffeine from other sources to avoid a caffeine overdose.
Caffeine overdose is a serious medical condition, and it can be dangerous to your health, as it can lead to unstable vital signs.
These include seizures, alteration of the senses, hypokalemia, hypocalcemia, hyponatremia, hyperglycemia, and electrocardiogram abnormalities – including tachycardia, arrhythmias, and imminent cardiac arrest .
If you are concerned about caffeine overdose, and if you are experiencing any symptoms – such as heart palpitations, irregular heartbeat, dizziness, fainting spells, convulsions, nausea, and vomiting – then you must seek urgent medical help .
According to the US Food and Drug Administration, the daily limit for safe caffeine consumption is 400 milligrams .
If you are taking a pre-workout supplement, you must be careful about your daily consumption of other caffeinated drinks, to not exceed the recommended daily intake.
If your primary beverage is coffee, then I would recommend that you consume no more than 3 cups per day.
However, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, I would advise you to limit your coffee consumption to 1 cup per day, unless instructed otherwise by your physician or gynecologist.
For children under the age of 12 years, it is strictly recommended that they avoid the consumption of any food or beverages that might contain any form of caffeine.
Other than coffee, many common beverages, such as tea, soda, and energy drinks, and some food items, like chocolate, often contain high amounts of caffeine per serving.
For instance, a standard serving of an energy drink contains about 170 mg of caffeine, and 1 ounce of dark chocolate contains about 24 mg caffeine .
In general, I would strongly recommend that you limit your daily caffeine consumption in order to obtain a better night’s sleep.
While cutting back on your daily caffeine intake, you might consider consuming alternative beverages, such as decaffeinated coffee or herbal tea.
In addition to that, I would also suggest that you avoid consuming any form of caffeine, including coffee and pre-workout supplements, closer to bedtime, as it can substantially interfere with your sleep cycle.
6: Switch to a Non-Caffeine Pre-Workout Supplement
If you feel that your sleep is being severely disrupted by the consumption of a caffeine-containing pre-workout supplement – or if you are sensitive to caffeine – then perhaps you should consider switching to a non-stimulant pre-workout product.
Non-stimulant pre-workout supplements do not contain caffeine, but they can still give you a considerable boost of energy, increase mental alertness, enhance physical stamina, and improve blood flow.
They do this with the help of ingredients like arginine, nitrosigine, l-citrulline, agmatine sulfate, theacrine, and beta-alanine.
The consumption of a non-stimulant pre-workout is also a good option for people who prefer working out late in the evening, because non-stimulant pre-workouts are caffeine-free, and therefore not likely to interfere with the sleep cycle, even when consumed closer to bedtime.
If you are considering swapping your regular pre-workout supplement with a non-stimulant version, you may want to look for the following ingredients in your product:
Ingredients That Produce Nitric Oxide
Nitric oxide-producing ingredients, such as arginine and nitrosigine, are considered to be effective alternatives to caffeine in pre-workout products.
Arginine is an amino acid that serves as a precursor to nitric oxide, whereas nitrosigine is a patented complex of silicone and bonded arginine.
Studies show that oral consumption of both arginine and nitrosigine can help to increase the production of nitric oxide, which improves both physical and mental performance, increases blood flow, enhances focus, improves endurance, and boosts energy .
L-Citrulline can increase the level of L-Arginine, which can further increase the production of nitric oxide.
The benefit of taking L-Citrulline is that it has the ability to bypass the liver, and convert to arginine in the gastrointestinal system, so that the body can subsequently utilize more of the arginine and nitric oxide .
Agmatine sulfate can help to prevent the biochemical breakdown of nitric oxide by blocking the nitric oxide synthase enzyme.
Hence, the consumption of agmatine sulfate can prolong the beneficial health effects of nitric oxide, such as the enhancement of physical and mental performance, improvement of blood flow, and increase in energy levels .
Theacrine is a naturally occurring compound which is chemically similar to caffeine in its structure and composition.
Theacrine is naturally found in various types of tea plants and coffee varieties, and it is popularly consumed for the improvement of athletic performance, memory, cognitive function, and fatigue .
Beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid that is produced naturally in the body, and it aids in the production of carnosine.
Carnosine is an essential component of muscular function, and higher levels of carnosine may delay muscle fatigue by regulating the buildup of lactic acid.
Nutritional supplements containing beta-alanine can boost production of carnosine, improving muscle strength, aerobic endurance, and sports performance .
Most pre-workout dietary supplements contain stimulating substances like caffeine, to improve endurance, enhance muscle power, and boost physical performance during intensive exercise and physical training.
I strongly advise that you do some thorough research before making a decision, and choose your pre-workout supplement wisely.
After taking pre-workout, you must hydrate yourself adequately to support the process of caffeine metabolization in your body, and ensure that you can fall asleep easily at bedtime.
In general, it is recommended that you schedule your workout no later than 4 hours prior to dinner time, and consume your pre-workout supplement 2 hours prior to working out, so that there is an adequate time gap between taking pre-workout and going to sleep.
In order to obtain a restful night’s sleep, you must try to limit your daily caffeine intake, including the caffeine you consume from sources other than pre-workout supplements.
To prevent the sleep-inhibitory effects of caffeinated pre-workout supplements, you may consider switching to a non-stimulant pre-workout with ingredients such as arginine, nitrosigine, l-citrulline, agmatine sulfate, theacrine, and beta-alanine.
If you continue to struggle to sleep at night, you may consider taking a melatonin supplement.
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Dan is the founder and head content creator at Bedroom Style Reviews.
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