Sleep, Recovery, and... Creatine? | Earth Fed Muscle

Sleep, Recovery, and... Creatine? | Earth Fed Muscle

Most people familiar with fitness know about creatine. It’s one of the most popular supplements on the market for good reason – it works! Creatine discussions are often focused around overall performance but if you’re not using it for recovery, you’re missing out. Here’s why…

The most important part of succeeding as an athlete is continuous growth. This includes continuous technical, strength, and knowledge growth; but an often overlooked measure is recovery. This is something that has more recently become a key aspect of my focus in order to get myself to the next level.

As a semi-professional shot putter and a full-time engineer, my schedule is packed. There are only around 10-12 hours that I am at home in a day, so free time is at a premium, meaning that recovery time is at a premium. When your coach is saying stretch for 15 minutes 3 times a day and sleep 9-10 hours, it seems impossible to fit it all. I was going through the year going to bed and getting around 7 hours of sleep that felt like it ended instantly and left me restless the entire day. Is gaining only an hour or two of desired sleep allotment really going to make me feel better than I did every single day? I figured not, and it would be more important to increase sleep quality as opposed to sleep quantity.

After returning from the US Olympic Team Trials in the Summer, I made improving my sleep the top priority. I started by going to my doctor and requesting a consultation with an ENT (ear-nose-throat doctor) and a sleep study. I wanted to see an ENT due to some serious breathing issues I was having with breathing through my nose. The consult led me to a deviated septum and turbinate reduction surgery to increase the size of my nasal passage. The goal here was to allow for easier breathing through my nose, increase oxygen to my body while nose breathing while asleep, and increase sleep quality. Did that work? Not really. I had let my body fully recover from the surgery but was still restless every morning when heading to work. The ordered sleep study was still set to look for sleep apnea, but knowing my previous sleep history, it seemed unlikely that apnea was going to be the issue.

I was nearly resigning myself to poor sleep for the rest of my career, until one day, by chance, I decided to take some Earth Fed Muscle creatine and cycle back on to the supplement [1]. I had always had the relationship with creatine that it was something that must be taken, but never felt much increase in performance while on the supplement other than slight weight gain. This time however was different; immediately that first night, I noticed that my sleep felt much longer, dreams were flowing, and I woke up feeling much more rested than normal. Not understanding the cause of this improvement in sleep at first, I continued on through my normal routine. After the second night of creatine intake and deep and fulfilling sleep, I was starting to develop the link.

Measuring recovery and sleep is very challenging to do. One metric that is being used more readily in the fitness community today is HRV (heart rate variability). Heart rate variability is the time gap between each heartbeat. While heart rate is the average time in between each beat, this is how that time in between fluctuates (see Fig 1).

Turns out your HRV is linked to the firing of two different parts of your nervous system. Having a low HRV means that the system is in sympathetic nervous response. This system is responsible for activities that are particularly more stimulating, like the fight or flight response or while highly active. High HRV is linked to the opposite system, parasympathetic, and is linked to the opposite responses, rest and recovery. [2]

By tracking HRV levels, fitness trackers today are able to calculate recovery metrics using their proprietary algorithms. This is done with the Whoop strap with their recovery score or with Garmin, the tracker that I use, with their body battery metric. While these numbers are just numbers and do not actually reflect true metrics of the body (dependant variable) they are calculated based on the information they can receive with their sensors (independent variables), the most important being that HRV.

What was the point of telling you all of that? Well, I did not want to just finish the story by saying “creatine made me sleep better, go buy some so you can sleep better”. I wanted to take some data and actually prove that my sleep quality was increasing. To do that, I took note of the first day that I started taking creatine, then used the metrics from my fitness tracker to prove my hypothesis. I continued to take 20g (10g in the morning and 10g after workout) on a regular basis. There were few gaps in that intake, mainly rising from lack of workout so not getting post-workout intake.

I continued to take data for around 2 and a half weeks. This would give me 5 weeks of information to analyze; 2.5 weeks prior to intake and 2.5 weeks with the creatine in my diet. There were some days when I felt like I definitely did not sleep well, primarily linked to having a few beers on Halloween leading to literally no recovery measured. There were also days that I was able to sleep for 11 hours on Friday or Saturday night that would obscure the data. In order to account for this, I took the data before and after intake not including how I recovered on the weekends alongside a metric that average every single day.

Both metrics, including and not including weekends, I saw a significant recovery increase after creatine intake started. For both metrics I saw a 44% and 52% increase in recovery respectively (data showing the Garmin body battery recovery can be seen in Fig 2).

Now that we can see an increase in recovery while asleep, meaning that my sleep quality has increased. There is still the question of why it has increased. I did some talking with my coach and a little bit of research into what creatine is doing in order to render the root cause chain. Creatine is often linked with a higher rate of recovery for high intensity workouts, something that I partake in 5 days a week. By having the ability to recover from these workouts in a more timely manner, I was allowing my body to enter its parasympathetic nervous system earlier in the evening. By being in a more restful state before heading to bed, I was able to feel more rested with the same amount of sleep. [3]

This is not a peer-reviewed, scholarly experiment and by no means should be treated as such. This is just a personal case study and should be treated that way. I noticed such a significant increase in sleep quality and recovery with Earth Fed Muscle creatine, probably the most significant effect from a supplement that I have ever felt, that I felt it necessary to share my experience to potentially help others.


Figure 1: Heart Rate Variability Illustration

Figure 2: Personal Recovery Stats

Body Battery Recovery With and Without Creatine

Including Weekends

Without Weekends

Before Creatine



With Creatine



Percent Increase



Analysis of 5 weeks of data collected with Garmin sports watches.




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