A Surprising New Way to Beat Sleep Deprivation
It’s 6.30am on a Saturday morning.
You’ve just woken up, and you have that “I know I’m not going to get back to sleep” feeling.
There’s a big game this afternoon. You’re one of the top players in your side. And you’ll need to be at your best if your team is going to stand a chance of winning.
But there’s a problem.
You were up late the night before. You’ve only had 3 hours of sleep. And you’re shattered.
What do you do?
A study done by the UK Sport Council could have the answer…
The researchers looked at the effects of sleep deprivation with or without caffeine or creatine on the execution of a repeated rugby passing skill .
Ten elite rugby players completed 10 trials on a simple rugby skill test. The test consisted of a 20 meter sprint, in which at the 10 meter mark, the player had to pass a rugby ball through a hanging hoop 10 meters away from them.
The players had between 7-9 hours sleep on five of these trials and between 3-5 hours sleep (deprivation) on the other five.
Roughly 90 minutes before each trial, they took one of the following:
50 or 100 milligrams of creatine per kilogram of bodyweight (i.e. a rugby player weighing 90 kilograms, which is about 200 pounds, would have taken either 4.5 or 9 grams of creatine).
1 or 5 milligrams of caffeine per kilogram of bodyweight, which works out at either 90 or 450 milligrams of caffeine for that same 90 kilogram (200 pound) rugby player.
As you might expect, sleep deprivation led to a significant drop in skill performance accuracy on both the dominant and non-dominant passing sides. No surprise there.
However, both creatine and caffeine wiped out the negative effects of sleep deprivation.
When the men were given caffeine, there was no drop in skill performance. Again, this won’t come as a surprise to most people, as it’s common knowledge that caffeine gives you a physical and mental lift.
Both the high (450 milligrams) and low (90 milligrams) doses of caffeine had roughly the same effect. That’s not to say the higher dose wouldn’t have worked better if the task was more physically demanding, but under these study conditions the lower dose worked just fine.
But here’s where it gets interesting…
Creatine had much the same effect on skill performance as the caffeine. And while there was no significant difference between the high and low doses, there was a trend for the higher creatine dose to have a greater impact on skill performance than the lower dose.
The positive effect that creatine has on mental function is another of its many benefits. But it’s a benefit that very few people are aware of.
When you take creatine, it affects more than just your muscles. Creatine supplementation also raises levels of creatine in the brain [2, 3].
One of the reasons that sleep deprivation has a negative effect on cognitive performance and mood state is a decrease in brain creatine levels. As this study, and others like it show, supplementing with creatine can offset the decline in performance that normally happens when you’re short on sleep .
About the Author: Christian Finn holds a master’s degree in exercise science and has been featured on BBC TV and radio, as well as in Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness and other popular fitness magazines.
NOTE: Christian has put together a FREE 20-page special report (PDF) called Truth and Lies about Building Muscle: 10 Muscle Myths Debunked By Science, where he reveals the truth about 10 popular myths that are still widely believed, despite all the evidence to the contrary. Click here now to download a copy.
1. Cook CJ, Crewther BT, Kilduff LP, Drawer S, Gaviglio CM. (2011). Skill execution and sleep deprivation: effects of acute caffeine or creatine supplementation – a randomized placebo-controlled trial. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 16, 8:2
2. Rawson ES, Venezia AC. (2011). Use of creatine in the elderly and evidence for effects on cognitive function in young and old. Amino Acids, 40, 1349-1362
3. Beal MF. (2011). Neuroprotective effects of creatine. Amino Acids, 40, 1305-1313
4. McMorris T, Harris RC, Swain J, Corbett J, Collard K, Dyson RJ, Dye L, Hodgson C, Draper N. (2006). Effect of creatine supplementation and sleep deprivation, with mild exercise, on cognitive and psychomotor performance, mood state, and plasma concentrations of catecholamines and cortisol. Psychopharmacology, 185, 93-103