Pre-Workout At Night: How To Take Without Negative Effects

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If you have a workout in the evening or at night, either because that’s your usual training time, or because you have a day when it’s the only time that you can squeeze it in, you might be wondering how to take pre-workout without buzzing and bouncing off the walls afterwards, making it hard for you to sleep.

The best way to take pre-workout at night is to use non-stim formulas, or to use a smaller dose of pre-workout, and avoid any other sources of caffeine or stimulants (e.g. synephrine, taurine or guarana) such as coffee, tea, cola, chocolate or fat-burning supplements.

Because getting a good night’s sleep is so important for recovery, it’s really important for you to know how to take pre-workout at night without interfering with your sleep.

Key Takeaways:

  • Whether pre-workout impacts your ability to sleep will depend on your personal sensitivity level to caffeine and other stimulants, and whether your pre-workout contains these ingredients.
  • Pre-workout can interfere with sleep, which can lead to poor recovery, poor mood, lack of concentration, increased risk of injury & illness, and struggles to lose weight, or even weight gain.
  • There are several easy tips you can use to make it easier to fall asleep including the amount, timing, and type of pre-workout (I’ll recommend my favorites), and other things you do after your workout.

Is It Bad To Take Pre-Workout At Night?

No, it is not necessarily bad to take pre-workout at night.  It can give you the energy and mental focus to have a great training session and get better results than if you didn’t take a pre-workout supplement.  There is only a problem if the pre-workout interferes with your ability to sleep afterwards.

Pre-workout supplements are popular for a reason: they help produce better results from training.  

These results includeimprovements in anaerobic peak power, strength, muscular endurance, stamina (more time to reach exhaustion), mental focus and mood, and lower perceived effort.

You don’t want to miss out on all of these great benefits, but you won’t get them if you’re not able to properly recover after your workout with a good night’s sleep.

So, it’s important to choose pre-workout supplements that still allow you to sleep well, and to find ways to take pre-workout supplements at night so that you can fall asleep easily after your training.

Will Pre-Workout Keep You Awake?

Pre-workout will not always keep you awake.  Not all pre-workout supplements contain caffeine or other stimulants, and some people are less sensitive to caffeine, meaning that they can still fall asleep easily even shortly after consuming caffeine.

If you have a non-stim pre-workout supplement (meaning that it does not contain caffeine or other stimulants), then if you are having trouble sleeping it’s not from your pre-workout.  Instead, it could be from feeling amped up from a good workout.

Next, even for supplements with stimulants, some people metabolize caffeine very quickly, meaning that it doesn’t stay in their bodies for as long, and they don’t feel the energy-boosting effects.

It’s also possible to build up a tolerance to caffeine over time, so even if pre-workout keeps you awake at first, it might not continue to do so after a few weeks of regular consumption.

  • Related Article: Why Does Pre-Workout Not Affect Me? 7 Reasons

Other Drawbacks Of Taking Pre-Workout At Night

other drawbacks of taking pre-workout at night

Beyond having a hard time falling asleep (insomnia), taking pre-workout at night can also lead to poor recovery, poor mood, lack of concentration, increased risk of injury & illness, and struggles to lose weight, or even weight gain.

These negative side effects aren’t necessarily directly related to the pre-workout itself, but are as a result of lower quality and/or less sleep that IS a direct result of taking pre-workout at night.

Recovery

Good quality sleep of adequate duration is the single most important element of recovery for athletes.  This concept applies equally to recreational exercises as well, so whether you’re aiming for a podium or working out to improve your health and quality of life, it’s vitally important to get a good night’s sleep so that you can recover from your training and be prepared for the demands of your life the next day.

Mood

Sleep deprivation reduces your sense of well-being.  If you’ve ever felt grumpy after a night of poor quality sleep, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.  You’ll want to be sure that your pre-workout supports you feeling good physically and mentally both during your workout AND the next day.

Focus

Sleep loss has major negative impacts on cognitive and behavioral performanceWhen sleep is restricted, individuals find it harder to focus, and they make more mistakes.

These mistakes aren’t helpful when you’re trying to perform your job, but they can be downright dangerous when they happen in the gym or when trying to drive a car, where you are exposed to a higher risk of injury or accident.  Your pre-workout choice impacts your safety.

Immune System

Significant detrimental effects on the immune system can be seen after just a few days of sleep deprivation, so if your pre-workout is keeping you up, it increases your risk of getting sick.

Weight

Chronic sleep deprivation is linked to higher BMI, whereas individuals with higher quality and quantity sleep have more weight loss success.  If your pre-workout is keeping you up at night, it can be harder for you to lose or maintain your weight, and you might even gain weight.

How To Properly Take Pre Workout At Night

how to properly take pre workout at night
  1. Limit or avoid other sources of caffeine during the day: caffeine can take a long time to clear out of  your body.  On average, the half life of caffeine is five hours, meaning that half of the caffeine will still be present in your body five hours later.  

    For example, if you have a coffee at noon with 100mg of caffeine, you will still have 50mg of caffeine in your body at 5pm.  If you then take a pre-workout with 200mg of caffeine, you will have 250mg of caffeine in your system for your workout, and that pre-workout will contribute to 100mg of caffeine at 10pm, the same as a cup of coffee.
  1. Take a smaller dose of pre-workout: use a ¼ to ½ size serving to see if it still gives you a boost for your workout, but without impacting your sleep.  Experiment with a given dose for at least 3-5 days to gauge the impact, and find the right balance for you.
  1. Get a proper cool-down: since pre-workout and exercise both ramp up your central nervous system and your cardiorespiratory system (faster breathing and higher heart rate), it’s important to spend time properly cooling down to slow your breathing and heart rate, and let your body temperature come down to normal versus rushing out of the gym after your last rep.
  1. Eat a balanced post-workout snack: working out increases stress levels in your body with the hormone cortisol.  Fast-digesting carbs like sugar help to stop the release of cortisol, so it’s a good idea to have a post-workout meal or snack with quick carbs and lean protein to bring stress levels down and give you a full stomach so that you’re not waking up in the night due to hunger.
  1. Take sleep-promoting supplements: melatonin, magnesium (bisglycinate or citrate form), GABA, and l-theanine are all supplements that can help with falling asleep faster and promoting relaxation.

    Be sure to discuss supplements with your doctor or other health care provider to make sure that they are right for you, considering your personal health history and other products (vitamins, medications or other supplements) you are taking.
  1. Adjust your bedtime: if possible, shift your schedule so that it is later, so that there are at least five hours between when you take your pre-workout and when you go to bed.  So, if your preworkout is at 5pm, bedtime should be no earlier than 10pm.  This will give you time to cool down, eat, get ready for sleep and clear most of the caffeine out of your body.

What To Look For In A Pre-Workout To Take Late At Night

If you’re going to be taking a pre-workout late at night (especially if there are less than five hours between taking it and bedtime), your best bet is to find a stimulant-free (“stim-free”) supplement.  You’ll also want to be sure that you can actually trust the label, so a third-party certified product is important.

  • Ingredients to avoid (stimulants): Amperall, caffeine, ephedrine, ginseng, guarana, methylphenethylamine, methylxanthine, synephrine, taurine, theobroma cacao (cocoa), yohimbe, and more – check out this listing of common stimulants in supplements for more. 
  • Ingredients to look for: agmatine, beta alanine, BCAAs (branched chain amino acids), citrulline (or l-citrulline), creatine, glycerol, nitrosigine, and tyrosine are all supplements to help with muscle strength, performance, and mental focus but they are not stimulants.
  • Third-party certification: when a product is third-party certified, it means that it has been independently verified to contain only the ingredients stated, in the amounts stated.  

Look for these logos/labels on your product:

Third Party Certified Logos
  • Transparent labeling: in order to know what a product actually contains, you’ll want to look for labels that actually list all the ingredients rather than hiding them in proprietary “blends” or “stacks.”
What to look for and avoid on the ingredient label

Best Pre-Workouts To Take At Night

The best pre-workouts to take at night are stim-free supplements.  Here are my top picks:

  1. Transparent Labs Stim-Free Non Caffeinated Performance Formula  – third-party certified with clear labels and naturally sweetened (with stevia) and colored (with beet root powder & spirulina)
Transparent Labs Stim Free
  1. KAGED Pre-Kaged Stim-Free – third-party certified with no artificial flavors or colors
Pre-Kaged Stim Free
  1. Axe&Slege Hydraulic – great-tasting multi-ingredient formula for increased strength, power and mental focus
  1. Ghost Pump – added ingredients to support tissue repair & recovery
  1. Magnum Opus – added electrolytes and B vitamins to keep you hydrated and energized

What Time Of Day Should You Stop Taking Pre-Workout?

Ideally, you should give yourself 5-8 hours between taking pre-workout and your desired bedtime, if your pre-workout contains stimulants like caffeine.  If your pre-workout is stim-free, aim to take it no later than 2-3 hours before your bedtime.

For example, if your bedtime is 10pm, ideally you would stop taking pre-workout by 5pm (or 7-8pm for a stim-free formula).  

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Take Pre-Workout At Night?

Yes, you can take pre-workout at night but you need to be mindful of possible impacts on sleep.  Aim to have at least 2-5 hours between taking pre-workout and your bedtime, and consider stim-free options.  Implement practices like meditation, soothing tea, or a warm bath to help you fall asleep more easily.

What Happens If You Take Pre-Workout Before Bed?

If you try to take pre-workout immediately before bed you could have a hard time falling asleep, especially if the product contains stimulants like caffeine, taurine, guarana or ginseng.  Trouble sleeping can lead to more problems like impaired recovery, and lower mood and focus the next day.

Can I Take Pre-Workout At 5pm?

Whether you can take pre-workout at 5pm without interrupting your sleep will depend on your bedtime, if the pre-workout contains stimulants, your personal caffeine metabolism if it does, and any other sources of caffeine in your day.  Your best bet is to try a smaller serving or opt for a stim-free formula.

How Long Does Pre-Workout Last Before Bed?

For most people, caffeine takes 5 hours to reach 50% levels, so you could still be feeling the effects after 8 hours.  That said, most of pre-workout’s effects are felt within 1-2 hours and if you opt for a stim-free formula, the pre-workout will last a maximum of 2-3 hours before bed.

Other Pre Workout Resources


About The Author

Lauren Graham
LAUREN GRAHAM

Lauren Graham is a Precision Nutrition Level 1 certified nutrition coach. She focuses on helping busy professionals balance healthy eating and purposeful movement.  Lauren has a background in competitive swimming and is currently competing as a CrossFit athlete.  She has a passion for training, teaching, and writing.