Do you need a little help to fall asleep, stay asleep and wake up to a new day with energy and enthusiasm?
You can do a few things to get the most out of your night’s sleep and make sure you sleep deeply and soundly.
One of these is to use the best supplement for better sleep.
Introducing my favorite sleep supplement – L-Theanine.
If you are not yet familiar with this amazing substance, read on. It is one of the most effective stress relievers available.
L-Theanine – gamma-glutamylethylamide – is an amino acid that occurs only in tea and some mushrooms. It is one of the major amino acid components in both black and green tea. A natural ingredient, it leads to feelings of calm, serenity, rejuvenation. At the same time it enhances your mood and ability to think. It does that because L-Theanine affects your body chemistry in a unique and very specific way.
If you have a cup of tea and are sensitive to caffeine it can cause you to feel more wired than awake. Hence the common recommendation not to drink any caffeinated beverage after lunchtime if you have trouble falling asleep; the stimulating effect of caffeine can last for hours. Taking an L-Theanine supplement instead may be the best way to reap the benefits and avoid the stimulating effects of caffeine.
How does it work?
L-Theanine increases alpha wave activity in the brain. This produces a restful, calm and relaxed state. It takes around an hour to feel the effects.
An average dose is between 100 mg to 300 mg, taken a few hours before bed or during the day if you are very tense or under a lot of stress. It is best to take it on an empty stomach, between meals. Start with a dose of 100 mg, take note of the effects and increase the dose if necessary until you achieve the desired result.
L-Theanine is a very safe supplement and considered non-toxic and non-addictive. No side effects of concern have been reported. Like any supplement, it may have unexpected effects when it is combined with other supplements or drugs. It is therefore best to take on it’s own.
L-Theanine is a unique substance. A lot of research and studies have been conducted to investigate it’s effects on the brain. Because it produces feelings of calm, relieves stress, improves mood and helps with relaxation, it is ideal for people who have trouble falling asleep because they are kept awake by stress and tension.
Is Stress keeping you Awake?
Too many people have trouble getting a restful night’s sleep. Sleep problems now look like an epidemic in the 21st century. That’s because they are often the result of lifestyle habits that are way out of tune with the environment our body has evolved to optimally function in.
The main reasons for problematic sleep are stress or anxiety, followed by illness, a sedentary lifestyle, medications, and a bad sleep environment. Often people wake up in the morning, but still feel tired. They then reach for a cup of coffee for a dose of caffeine to feel more alert. This has a stimulating effect but it can come at a cost. One of the biggest drawbacks of caffeine is that it tends to stay in the body on average for about 10 hours. Some people are fast caffeine metabolisers and have no problems drinking caffeinated beverages later in the day but for others caffeine can take much longer to clear from the system. You likely already know which group you belong to. If caffeine tends to wind you up for long periods, drinking coffee after lunch is not the best way to treat the afternoon slump. Which by the way is an entirely natural part of your circadian cycle. The natural human circadian rhythms show a big decline in alertness around 3pm in the afternoon. That’s when a lot of people reach for a cup of coffee. Or chocolate. Or both 🙂
But there is another way.
The best way to deal with this natural afternoon decline in alertness may be to take a nap, or take a break for a meditation session. Both are very effective ways to re-charge in the early afternoon. If that’s not possible, don’t cause yourself additional stress by worrying too much about it. The afternoon slump is temporary, and most people will feel their alertness increase again naturally from 4pm onwards, until about 8pm. Then your energy starts to wind down once more for the rest of the evening.
A great benefit of L-Theanine is that it will induce feelings of relaxation and calm without causing drowsiness.
It won’t make you sleep longer, but it will make you sleep better.
In a study, subjects reported feeling as if they had slept longer, but the number of hours they spent asleep had not changed. This makes L-Theanine ideal if you want to feel more rested but don’t want to sleep longer hours. Keep in mind that every person has an optimal quantity of sleep they require for the most efficient rest and recovery. This is not likely to change a lot, whatever you do.
But you’ll do better to work on your sleep quality rather than increase the hours of sleep you get if you already sleep 7 – 9 hours a day and still wake up tired.
More benefits of L-Theanine
Improves your mood
Not only can L-Theanine put you into that calm, content and relaxed state of mind that’s ideal for falling asleep with ease, it is also a proven mood enhancer. It changes the levels of amino acids which effect serotonin and other neuro-transmitters (read more on how serotonin works in this blog post)
because l-Theanine is one of just a few natural substances able to cross the blood-brain barrier.
Suppresses stress hormones
L-Theanine has another important effect for stress regulating; it suppresses glucocorticoids. These are stress hormones that become activated by stress and depression. These stress hormones can disrupt serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine and other brain chemicals. The resulting imbalance interferes – and not in a good way – with mood and memory. Worse still, glucocorticoids can shrink the brain.
Researchers also believe that L-Theanine acts as a glutamate antagonist which offsets the harmful effects of high glucocorticoid levels. High glucocorticoid levels affect memory and learning. L-Theanine can prevent memory loss and stroke-induced damage to brain tissue in stroke victims.
Protects your liver from alcohol
Do you enjoy more than one drink or two? If so, L-Theanine is also a powerful antidote to the detrimental effects of alcohol on the liver. In mice, it significantly lowered the amount of blood alcohol when taken before or after consuming alcohol. One reason is that L-Theanine accelerates the break- down of acetaldehyde and blocks toxic radicals. Another reason is that it restores glutathione levels in the liver. Glutathione is the body’s most important anti oxidant and detoxifier. Try not to waste it by drinking too much. And remember that alcohol and sleep do not make good bed fellows.
Have you tried L-Theanine to improve your sleep quality? Let me know what you think!