Among athletes, creatine is considered a miracle cure for increasing performance, muscle growth and regeneration. However, it is less known that creatine can also positively influence our sleep. Find out here what creatine is all about and why you and your sleep can benefit from creatine supplementation even as a non-athlete.
Table of contents
- What is creatine?
- How does creatine work?
- Creatine & Sleep
- Creatine as a Dietary Supplement
- Side Effects of Creatine
Creatine & Sports
Creatine is known as an effective way to improve recovery and build muscle, and is often promoted as an effective dietary supplement for competitive and amateur athletes for the purpose of increasing strength and performance. For a long time, however, taking creatine supplements was considered unsafe, but numerous scientific studies have helped establish creatine as a safe, performance-enhancing agent for promoting muscle growth and during intense exercise.
What many don't know, however: Creatine has many other effects on our bodies and can also have a lasting impact on our sleep.
What is creatine?
Creatine (Greek kreas: "flesh") is a natural organic acid that is produced by our body itself and can also be ingested through food. It serves mainly as an energy supplier and is therefore stored to more than 90% in our muscle cells, where it is stored as an energy reserve to be activated and consumed during short-term intense exercise.
How does creatine work?
Physical performance enhancement and muscle building
Basically, creatine provides the body with additional energy so that it remains able to perform despite physical and cognitive stress. Creatine, which is stored in muscle cells, is activated during intense physical exertion precisely when "normal" energy reserves are depleted. It also helps the muscles to relax again more quickly after the necessary exertion. In this way, a well-filled creatine store can support the muscles in their function and increase physical performance over a short period of time, especially during exertion between 2 seconds and 2 minutes.
However, creatine also has a long-term effect in that it influences the metabolic and growth processes of the muscles and ensures that more muscle mass is formed and muscle strength can increase.
Mental: Cognitive performance enhancement and regeneration
A sufficient energy supply is also of great importance for the functioning of our brain cells and central nervous system, as the brain can take up to 20% of the total energy turnover of our body. As in the body itself, creatine can also help fill energy stores in the brain and protect cells from depletion. Various studies also show that creatine can improve cognitive brain functions (e.g. memory and intelligence), increase mental stress tolerance, and delay mental fatigue, among other benefits.
Creatine & Sleep
As smartsleep founder and sleep researcher Dr. Markus Dworak was able to show in his scientific studies, the active ingredient creatine can also (or especially) have a positive influence on physiological processes during sleep. During the night, our body comes to rest, reduces energy consumption and, especially during deep sleep, collects new energy (in the form of the energy carrier ATP), which it needs for important regeneration and repair processes. Especially during sleep deprivation, these processes are disturbed, the energy stores of the cells are not sufficiently filled and the important regeneration is made more difficult.
Creatine now provides the body with additional energy and accelerates the replenishment of the energy stores of our cells in the brain and muscles. As a result, the body and mind are ready to perform again more quickly and can begin subsequent regeneration processes. Creatine as a dietary supplement can therefore help the body to start faster with the important repair functions and restore a healthy and recovered state. Other scientific studies have also found improved regeneration by taking creatine when the body has less time to recover during sleep due to lack of sleep. And the personal feeling of tiredness of the test subjects also decreased by taking creatine.
Did you know that sleep and exercise have an exciting interaction and can each positively influence the other? In this article you will learn how sport promotes sleep.
Creatine as a dietary supplement
Our body produces small amounts of creatine itself and another part can be taken in by consuming animal foods (especially fish and meat). However, since we are able to store far more creatine than we produce or absorb ourselves, an additional intake via a dietary supplement can be useful, especially when following a vegan or vegetarian diet, to replenish the body's creatine stores and provide more creatine. Today, you can usually find creatine in capsule or powder form.
The dosage of creatine supplementation depends on your diet, physical condition, and goals, among other things. The body produces about 1-2 grams of creatine on its own and can store up to 5 grams total. A daily dose of 3-5 grams of creatine is considered safe and tolerable by the European Food Safety Authority.
Side effects of creatine
In healthy people, no side effects are generally to be expected from additional creatine intake. The substance is one of the best-studied dietary supplements and is generally considered safe and well-tolerated at the recommended dose. However, too high a dosage of more than 20 grams per day can lead to abdominal pain, diarrhea or vomiting. An overdose is not advisable anyway, since the body cannot store more than 5 grams of creatine per day and simply excretes the excess again.
Attention: At the beginning of a creatine intake you should make sure to drink enough fluids. Creatine binds and stores water in the muscles, which is why you should expect a slight increase in weight if you take it regularly.
Creatine has established itself in competitive sports as an effective and safe supplement for getting the most out of physical strength and performance. Because of its function as an energy supplier, creatine not only supports you during intense athletic exertion, but can also have a positive effect on regeneration during sleep.
Creatine is the body's own natural energy supplier, 90% of which is stored in muscle cells.
Creatine ensures short-term energy supply and thus promotes physical performance, muscle build-up and regeneration after intense exertion.
Creatine influences the energetic balance in the brain and promotes cognitive performance, brain function and stress resistance and also reduces fatigue.
During sleep, creatine accelerates energy provision and regeneration, thus reducing the need for sleep.
A daily dose of 3 g to 5 g of creatine per day is considered safe and well tolerated.
Best regards and see you soon!