One of the most important factors behind a good workout, is energy and a focused mind. One of the most important factors behind muscle growth and enhanced performance is adequate sleep. But could your pursuit of a good workout be limiting your ability to get a good nights sleep?
I can’t really recall when I first experimented with pre-workout supplements, but I have this incredibly clear picture of the first time my training partner, at the time, had a scoop. We sat home at my place, he had stopped by to pick me up, on the way to the gym, and he was literally not feeling like going to the gym. Long day at work, didn’t feel like he’d being run over by a bus, but more like he had pushed a bus – with flat tires – over a sand dune. He really needed some energy if he was going to do anything else, than sleep on a bench, at the gym. I had just got my hands on some pre-workout drink and said he should try it. With quite some skepticism, he tried it. We put on some good energetic music, I packed my bag and we went on our way to the gym.
At first it did not seem as though it had helped all that much, but after like 20 minutes into the workout, he was like reborn and filled with energy. He almost seemed like the slightly drunk version of himself – in a good way. Cheering on people, screaming out the last reps and psyching himself for every lift. Yes pre-workout supplements do work. They of course bring energy as promised, but even more profound is the mental focus, you just do what you came for; no messing around.
Now this is not going to be a post only highlighting the benefits of pre-workout supplements, but actually more look at one of the adverse effects of some of them. I have noticed that even though 2 brands may deliver somewhat the same results in the gym, they still can be very different in the adverse effects department. My philosophy has always been to find the supplement that gives the most of the effects I DO want and the least of the effects I do NOT want – the positives should be as high as possible with minimal downsides.
At one point I wanted to try something different than the product I had used for some time then. I switched to this(at that time) new NO-Xplode that promised – as all supplements do – even greater performance, pump etc. etc. The effects was as good and perhaps a little better, than the other product I had used up until that point. But what was most certainly different, was the effect it had on my ability to fall asleep. I have never been good at falling asleep, but even though I had taken a scoop of this at 15-16 in the afternoon, my body still felt almost restless at 23 at night. There was something in this product, that just would not get burned during my workouts, which left me energized and restless, when I needed to be relaxed. I abandoned it.
After a few months I tried it once more, but with the exact same results. I asked some of my friends who used it if they has any similar problems – but none of them had. So it might be something unique for me, but I am sure not using that brand anymore.
After NO-Xplode I went for Biotest Power Drive, which is also a very old product by now. This product really gives the same mental focus as the others but without the same boost in energy. Not to say it does not deliver energy – it does, but not as profound as the others. If I had to train in the evening and needed some pre-workout supplement, this would be my favorite choice or if you are really bothered by pre-workout sleep problems – this could be the solution.
But the product I keep returning to is Super Charge by Labrada Nutrition. It gives me all the energy and mental focus I could ever need. And most importantly it does not affect my sleep. It is not something I would use just before going to bed, but having a serving at 17.30 does not mess with my sleep in any way. I feel like it fuels my workout but does not leave me restless or artificially energized once the workout is done – just what I look for in a pre-workout supplement.
As stated earlier I have never been that good at falling asleep, so my case may be rather unique, but if you experience some of the same symptoms, I would consider trying to look at your supplement list or change your training schedule. If you are not having a good night sleep you are not giving your body the needed rest, to reap the benefits of those hard earned hours in the gym!
I am very skeptical at both taking sleeping pills and taking supplements to counteract the effect of other supplements, but if you can’t live without your pre-workout buzz, then melatonin might be worth a try. It is a natural hormone that is released in the evening signaling your body to start getting tired and preparing for sleep. You take a little dose before heading to bed and it may help you fall asleep. But it’s one of those supplements where more is not better. I bought these NOW Foods Melatonin 3mg pills and they initially did not help me get to sleep easier, on the other hand they made me feel slightly hangover the day after. But after some reading I tried separating the pills and only taking half dose – this worked way better, both in terms of falling asleep and no side-effects the day after. Therefore my recommendation would be these Now Foods Melatonin 1mg as you then can start with 1 mg and feel the effect.
And finally remember this; that pre-workout supplements are just that – supplements – don’t use them everytime. It is quite possible to have an amazing workout without them. They should not be your default choice.
*Edit if you want more tips on how to reduce the negative effect of pre-workout supplements on your sleep, look here: Reduce pre-workout sleep problems