Plenty of supplements on the market these days contain stimulants, which give you tons of energy and can stop you from falling asleep. However, when it comes to protein powder, will it keep you up?
Protein powder alone will not keep you awake at night. However, many protein powders and protein shakes are made with added sugar which may affect your ability to fall asleep.
There are many benefits to drinking a protein shake via a protein powder before catching some shut-eye for the night. Keep reading to learn more about the different uses of how drinking a protein shake is actually beneficial for you before you fall asleep.
Protein Powder Won’t Keep You up at Night
There is an old trope that eating before bed will worsen your sleep. However, in recent days this has been proven false.
Unless your protein shake is loaded up with sugar, it’s not going to stop you from falling asleep. In fact, the fullness you’ll get from a protein shake can actually help you to fall asleep better and get higher quality sleep!
Casein can also help you build more muscle overnight, but I’ll go over that more later.
Unfortunately, many protein shakes do have sugar. If they do, they will keep you up, and you might not want to have too many of them.
If you’re looking for a good protein powder to have before bed, check out Dymatize’s Casein Protein Powder (link to Amazon). It’s great, sugar-free (and free of sugar substitutes), and is the best option to have before you go to sleep.
On the flip side, if you’re lactose intolerant, a protein shake made with milk also may keep you awake due to an upset stomach.
All in all, as long as you’re not lactose intolerant, and you’re not loading your shake up with sugar, a protein shake before bed won’t keep you awake, and may even help you get to sleep sooner and better.
Protein Powder May Improve Sleep Quality
On top of not keeping you awake, protein powder may actually improve your sleep quality!
Just think of the feeling you get after Thanksgiving dinner. You feel full, and you want to go to sleep.
Having a protein shake before bed can have the same effect, making you full and sleepy.
On top of this, whey protein powder also contains the building blocks of melatonin, which is the chemical that makes you tired and controls your sleep cycle.
Sure, it’s in small amounts, but they’re in there nonetheless. However, more studies need to be completed to confirm that they actually have an effect on your sleep quantity and quality.
One study gave participants A-LAC, which is the building block of melatonin I mentioned earlier. Whey protein powder contains this in small amounts, so any benefits from the study should be reduced.
Here are the results from this study:
|Objective Sleep Time||12.8%|
|Subjective Sleep Time||10.8%|
|Objective Sleep Quality||7.0%|
It’s important to note that this study gave participants A-LAC, not protein powder. Whey protein powder does contain A-LAC, but in smaller amounts than what was used in the study.
A second, different study was performed where participants were given actual whey protein 3 hours before they went to sleep, but it found no effect on sleep quality.
All in all, these two studies are small, and larger ones need to be performed.
Unfortunately, it looks like these studies don’t prove much yet. Let’s hope for more research!
Other than these studies, it’s undeniable that the satiety you gain from consuming protein can make you sleepy, especially if you’re not lactose intolerant.
Casein Is Better Than Whey Before Bed
The most common form of protein powder is whey, with casein as a runner-up. In your body, casein takes longer than whey to be digested and absorbed in your system.
This means that consuming casein protein keeps you feeling fuller for longer. This also helps with getting you to sleep faster!
If you drink a whey protein shake before bed, you may end up digesting it so fast that you need to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, which isn’t good for sleep quality.
Because casein protein powder is so slow-acting, it keeps your metabolism running smooth overnight with no spikes in blood sugar or any otherwise intense digestion that might keep you up.
Because casein takes so long to digest, it’ll keep you full and ready to sleep straight through the night.
That brings me right to my next point about casein!
Protein Shakes Before Bed Can Help Build Muscle
You’ve probably heard this before; muscles are built at home, not in the gym. If you haven’t, this just means that your muscles are actually created and built while you’re resting, not while you’re working out.
A large part of this happens while you’re sleeping. As you sleep, your body is recovering. It’s using the proteins and nutrients that you still have in your stomach to create new muscle.
Because casein proteins take longer to digest, if you have some before bed, your body has a full tank of protein ready to be used all night long as you’re sleeping.
If you were to go to bed on an empty stomach after going to the gym, you’re potentially missing out on gains and muscle that you could’ve built overnight.
Having some casein before you go to bed also means that you won’t be woken up too early due to hunger and that when you do wake up, you won’t be starving.
All in all, if you’re going to have protein powder before bed, try out casein if you haven’t already. It could be the next step you need to build even more muscle and get better sleep. The best of both worlds!
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that protein powder/shakes won’t keep you up at night on their own. Lactose intolerance and sugar within your protein shakes, however very well could keep you from sleeping properly.
If you’re concerned that your protein shakes are keeping you up, try cutting them out! Or, at the very least, don’t have one before you go to bed.
Test it out for a week, and if it helps you sleep better, you’ve found your issue. If not, you’ve just been given the green light to keep having a protein shake before bed.