Can I Take Choline at Night?

Updated on March 10, 2024
 by — reviewed by Jason Williams, PhD (Contributor: George Collins / Editor: Yoko Hill)

Can you really take choline at night?

Taking choline as a dietary supplement is a popular choice for individuals looking to support brain function and improve memory.

Choline has been regarded as an essential nutrient by the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) of the National Academies of Medicine since 1998. It plays a vital role in the synthesis of neurotransmitters, maintenance of cell membrane health, fat metabolism, and DNA synthesis.(1)

Recent studies have also suggested that choline may impact sleep and sleep quality. This is very good news for those struggling with getting a good night’s rest!

In this article, we will explore the role of choline in the body, its potential effects on sleep, the best time to take choline supplements, and the side effects of nighttime choline supplementation.

Understanding the Role of Choline in the Body

Choline plays a vital role in various bodily functions, including neurotransmitter synthesis, liver function, and brain health.

Choline is especially important for the production of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that is involved in memory, muscle control, and mood regulation.

While the evidence regarding the benefits of choline is mixed, there are several potential advantages to ensuring an adequate intake of this nutrient.

  1. Memory Function: Choline has been associated with improvements in memory and cognitive function. Some studies have shown that supplementing with choline can enhance short-term and long-term memory, particularly in older adults with poor memory. However, more research is needed to fully understand the extent of choline’s impact on memory.
  2. Brain Development: Choline is essential for proper brain development, especially during pregnancy. Adequate choline intake during pregnancy supports the development of the baby’s brain and spinal cord, reducing the risk of neural tube defects. It has also been suggested that children whose birth parents had proper levels of choline intake may have improved attention, memory, and problem-solving skills.
  3. Liver Health: Choline plays a crucial role in maintaining liver function. It supports the production of compounds that help remove cholesterol from the liver, preventing fat and cholesterol buildup. Adequate choline intake can reduce the risk of fatty liver disease and liver damage.
  4. Muscle Health: Choline is involved in muscle movement and repair. It supports the proper functioning of muscles and helps repair the membranes of muscle cells. Inadequate choline intake may lead to muscle damage and impaired muscle function.
  5. Depression and Anxiety: There is some evidence suggesting that choline may play a role in mental health, particularly in the treatment of anxiety and mood disorders. Choline is involved in the production of neurotransmitters, including acetylcholine, which regulates mood and intelligence. While the research is limited, some studies have shown a link between lower choline levels and a higher risk of anxiety.

While choline deficiency is rare in healthy individuals, certain groups, such as pregnant women and athletes, may benefit from choline supplementation.

This is because an adequate intake of choline through a balanced diet or supplementation supports memory function, brain development, liver health, muscle health, and mental well-being.

However, further research is needed to fully understand the extent of choline’s benefits and its potential role in various health conditions.

Can You Take Choline at Night?

Yes, you can take choline at night. Choline intake before bedtime has been associated with improved REM sleep quality due to increased levels of choline, leading to more vivid and frequent dreams. This can be achieved through regulated choline supplements or choline-rich foods, like eggs, olives, lettuce, and celery.

However, while choline has demonstrated potential benefits for sleep quality and cognitive function, taking it at night may not be ideal for everyone. Individuals should consider their specific sleep patterns and existing sleep issues, and consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating choline supplements into their nighttime routine.

By carefully assessing the implications and finding the optimal timing, one can effectively harness the potential benefits of choline supplementation while minimizing the risk of sleep disturbances.

Potential Benefits of Taking Choline at Night

Choline has been associated with improved sleep quality and the cholinergic pathway, which is relevant to Alzheimer’s disease.(2)

This is because of the secretion of Acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that is released by cholinergic neurons in the brain. Acetylcholine is involved in regulating signals that are responsible for memory and learning ability.

When it comes to taking choline at night, there are some notable benefits:

  • Enhanced Memory Consolidation: One of the main benefits of taking choline at night is its potential to enhance memory consolidation. Memory consolidation is the process by which new information is stored and integrated into long-term memory. Research has suggested that choline supplementation can support this process, particularly during sleep.(3) Choline may help to strengthen the connections between brain cells, allowing for better retention and recall of information learned during the day.
  • Facilitates REM Sleep: Choline has been shown to have a positive effect on rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, the stage of sleep when dreaming occurs.(4) REM sleep is associated with enhanced memory consolidation and emotional processing. By taking choline at night, individuals may experience improved REM sleep.
  • Supports Neurotransmitter Function: Choline is a precursor to acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter involved in learning, memory, and cognitive function. By increasing choline levels in the brain, individuals may support the production and release of acetylcholine, leading to improved cognitive performance and memory consolidation. This can result in better recall of information learned during the day and overall cognitive enhancement.
  • Promotes Brain Health: Choline has important neuroprotective properties that can promote brain health. It is involved in the synthesis of phospholipids, which are essential components of cell membranes in the brain. By ensuring an adequate supply of choline, individuals may support the overall health and function of their brain cells, leading to improved memory and cognitive performance. This can have long-term benefits for brain health and aging-related cognitive decline.(5)
  • Dream Vividness: There is a limited amount of research on the direct effects of choline supplementation on dream vividness. However, considering its role in memory processes, it is plausible that choline may have an impact on the clarity and intensity of dreams. Some users have reported experiencing more vivid dreams after taking choline supplements, although further studies are needed to establish a concrete link.

Potential Drawbacks of Taking Choline at Night

When it comes to improving cognitive function, choline is often seen as a beneficial supplement.

However, there are potential drawbacks to consider when taking choline at night.

These include:

  1. Insomnia: Choline has been shown to play a role in the production of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that promotes wakefulness and alertness. Taking choline supplements at night can potentially increase acetylcholine levels, leading to difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.
  2. Restlessness: Higher levels of acetylcholine in the brain can also lead to increased mental activity and restlessness. This can make it challenging to relax and unwind, making it harder to fall asleep.
  3. Sleep Disruption: Choline’s role in the cholinergic pathway suggests that it is involved in memory and learning processes. However, if choline levels are disrupted during sleep, it may impact the consolidation of memories and disrupt the natural sleep architecture, including the occurrence of deep and REM sleep stages.

It’s important to note that the research on choline and its impact on sleep is limited, and individual responses may vary.

Some individuals may not experience any negative effects from taking choline at night. 

Keep track of your sleep patterns and how you feel the morning after taking choline. If you notice any negative effects on your sleep quality, consider adjusting the dosage or timing accordingly.

The Best Time to Take Choline

The optimal timing for taking choline supplements can depend on various factors, including absorption and bioavailability. While choline can be taken at any time of the day, there are certain considerations to keep in mind to maximize its benefits.

One factor to consider is meal timing. It is recommended to take choline with meals, as this can enhance its absorption. Consuming choline supplements with a meal that contains fat can further improve absorption, as choline is a lipid-soluble nutrient.

In terms of specific timings within the day, there is no established consensus on the best time to take choline. However, taking it at the same time every day can help maintain steady levels in the body. This consistency can be beneficial in ensuring that choline levels remain optimal throughout the day.

Some individuals prefer taking choline in the morning to boost cognition and mental performance throughout the day. Others might find it more effective to take it in the afternoon to combat afternoon fatigue or improve productivity.

There are also those who choose to take it in the evening to support restful sleep and recovery.

Optimal Timing and Dosage

To ensure the best results, it is recommended to follow the dosage instructions provided by a healthcare professional or the product label.

In general, it’s best to begin with a smaller dosage of choline and gradually increase it if needed. This can help you gauge your individual response and minimize the risk of sleep disturbances.

As for timing, it may be more appropriate to take choline supplements earlier in the day, preferably with a meal. This allows ample time for the body to process and utilize the choline before bedtime, potentially reducing the risk of sleep disturbances.

Conclusion: Can You Take Choline Before Bed?

When it comes to taking choline at night, there are potential benefits. For those struggling with getting a good night’s sleep, this could be the ideal natural nootropic for better sleep.

However, individual responses vary, and there is a potential for sleep disturbances if you take choline before bed. Taking choline in the morning will probably be more effective for overall well-being.

That being said – if you are considering taking choline before bed, start with a low dosage and gradually increase as needed. If you experience any negative side effects or sleep disturbances, it may be best to adjust the timing or dosage of your choline supplementation.

As always, it is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional before making any changes to your supplement routine.

Sources, Studies, and Scientific Research
  1. Wallace, Taylor C et al. “Choline: The Underconsumed and Underappreciated Essential Nutrient.” Nutrition today vol. 53,6 (2018): 240-253. doi:10.1097/NT.0000000000000302 ↩
  2. Chen, Zhi-Ru et al. “Role of Cholinergic Signaling in Alzheimer’s Disease.” Molecules (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 27,6 1816. 10 Mar. 2022, doi:10.3390/molecules27061816 ↩
  3. Cakir, Aysen et al. “Effects of CDP-choline administration on learning and memory in REM sleep-deprived rats.” Physiology & behavior vol. 213 (2020): 112703. doi:10.1016/j.physbeh.2019.112703 ↩
  4. Watson, Christopher J et al. “Neuropharmacology of Sleep and Wakefulness.” Sleep medicine clinics vol. 5,4 (2010): 513-528. doi:10.1016/j.jsmc.2010.08.003 ↩
  5. Tabassum, Saiqa et al. “Chronic choline supplementation improves cognitive and motor performance via modulating oxidative and neurochemical status in rats.” Pharmacology, biochemistry, and behavior vol. 159 (2017): 90-99. doi:10.1016/j.pbb.2017.05.011 ↩