Taking L-Carnitine Before Bed: Why You Should Avoid It At Night

woman sleeping

L-Carnitine is an important chemical produced in the liver, kidney, and brain. It plays a vital role in the production of energy and movement of muscle. It’s also believed to have an impact on weight loss, and so is popular with fitness enthusiasts.

But what time you take L-Carnitine can have certain effects on your body, and that includes when you take L-Carnitine before bed.

We will explore the effects of L-Carnitine on the body right here, including the potential effects when taken before bed.

But first, it is crucial to understand what L-Carnitine actually is before exploring the effects.

So, What Exactly is L-Carnitine?

L – Carnitine is an amino acid derivative that transports fatty acids into cells to produce energy.

It is an essential nutrient and dietary supplement. Whilst the body naturally produces L-Carnitine via the amino acids lysine and methionine, it can only produce L-Carnitine if there’s a high amount of Vitamin C available. 

Apart from its natural production in the body, L-Carnitine can also be gotten from specific diets or taken in the form of an oral supplement. This is particularly helpful for people whose natural levels of L-Carnitine is low.

How The Body Uses L-Carnitine

L-Carnitine helps convert body fats into energy. It does this by oxidation, resulting in Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production. ATP is the primary energy currency of the cell, and it is the molecule that transports energy within the cells.

It is also necessary for muscle movement and regulation of heart functions. However, 98% of L-Carnitine is stored in the muscles with few amounts in the liver and the blood.

L-Carnitine also plays a key role in controlling diseases, including heart and brain diseases, it supports energy production, maintains general brain function, and reduces the risk of certain disorders. It also has an auxiliary function of eliminating waste products and countering them from accumulation.

L-Carnitine Before Bed: The Possible Effects

While there is no conclusive research on the effects of Carnitine when it is taken before bed, we can draw out some possible effects from the general effects of L-Carnitine on the body and how they could then impact on sleep duration and quality.

 Below are some of the effects L-Carnitine may have on the body when taken before bed.

1. Headaches

One of the side effects of L-Carnitine are headaches. However, the reason for this is not yet known.

Everyone has had headaches at one point or the other, and we are aware of how weak and vulnerable we become when our head hurts. Depending on how serious it is, you may even have to stop any activity you’re doing when suffering from a headache due to the pain.

Similarly, taking L- Carnitine before bed might cause headaches, and so may prevent you from getting enough sleep, or falling asleep.

Considering that, and this supplement’s impact on energy levels, it may be best to take it before a work out or in the morning instead.

2. Nausea

Nausea is another side effect of L-Carnitine, and it is mainly experienced when a high dose of L-Carnitine is taken.

Sleep is supposed to be a moment of relaxation, but with discomfort in the digestive system, you will likely be kept awake through the night.

3. Abdominal Pain

Another side effect of L-Carnitine is abdominal pain.

Therefore, it is not advisable to take L-Carnitine before bed as it might cause abdominal inconvenience and disrupt sleep.

 4. Diarrhea

When an L-Carnitine is taken in excess, it can cause diarrhea.

Experiencing diarrhea at night will hinder your sleep as you won’t be able to properly relax because of a need to visit the toilet frequently.

 5. High Blood Pressure

This is one of the most critical side effects of L-Carnitine.

It is commonly referred to as hypertension, and is associated with anxiety, chest pain, fatigue, and irregular heart rhythm. With all the effects listed above, there is no way one will be able to get a good night’s rest if taking L-Carnitine before bed.

A clinician in the process of conducting a blood pressure examination. Original image sourced from US Government department: Public Health Image Library, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Under US law this image is copyright free, please credit the government department whenever you can”.

The General Positive Effects That L-Carnitine Has On The Body

Below are some of the proven positive effects that L-Carnitine has on the body.

1. Increases Performance During Workouts

L-Carnitine improves workout performance by supplying oxygen to muscles which increases blood flow and reduces fatigue.

It also decreases the buildup of lactic acid in the muscles, which helps you work out longer.

2. Improves Cognitive Ability

L-Carnitine helps to improve brain performance. It improves brain health and memory because of the acetyl group attached to it.

3. Production of Red Blood Cells

L-Carnitine helps to increase red blood cell count.

Red blood cells transport oxygen throughout the body and muscles, and this inadvertently increases workout performance and muscle protein synthesis.

4. Supplement When Being Treated for Cancer

Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that leads to deficiency in L-Carnitine in humans. In this case, an L-Carnitine supplement is required to reduce symptoms such as weakness.

However, it has been recently concluded that L-Carnitine may also be one of the ways to prevent tissue damage resulting from chemotherapy.

5. Improves Heart Condition

L-Carnitine supplements are believed to improve heart conditions by boosting heart health and circulation.

6. Aids Function of Kidney and Liver

Since the kidney and liver help in the creation of L-Carnitine, any disease affecting these organs will lead to a deficiency of L-Carnitine.

To replenish L-Carnitine, supplements are recommended, which prevents deficiency and supports the function of the kidney and liver.

7. Improves Stamina

After physical exercise, the body requires energy to sustain it. And the energy required is in the form of Adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

L-Carnitine provides this energy by breaking down fatty acids. It also increases blood flow and the production of nitric oxide. Considering this supplement can provide energy, that’s another reason why taking L-Carnitine before bed could result in you finding it harder to fall asleep.

L-Carnitine Before Bed: Our Final Thoughts

As seen from the article above, L-Carnitine has numerous health benefits, but it may not be beneficial to take before bed due to potential side effects.

However, if L-Carnitine is to be taken, it is advised that it is used in the morning.

Furthermore, taking L-Carnitine 20 to 30 minutes before workouts when you can burn more calories is the best way to improve strength and stamina.

But as always, if adding a new supplement into your daily routine and diet then you must check with your doctor in case it may interact with any preexisting conditions or medications.