Too wound up at night to fall asleep easily? Glycine has a calming action and a slightly sedative effect. This works well when you need to relax. It helps switch off the thoughts that keep running through your head and keep you awake long after you go to bed. Here is what it does for your sleep, and how to take it.
Glycine is the smallest and simplest of all amino acids. Don’t let that fool you. Your body needs it to work properly. It’s essential for muscle, cognitive and metabolic functions. But it also serves as a neurotransmitter. And as an “inhibitory” neurotransmitter, glycine promotes restful sleep. Not only that, it has a lot of other impressive benefits.
Research shows that:
Glycine is non-essential, meaning it is so important that your liver can make some if your dietary intake is inadequate. But it can’t make an unlimited amount. And the typical diet usually comes up short, sometimes by as much as 8-10 grams of glycine per day.
Glycine has many critical functions in the body, some of which were only recently discovered. Essential to your health is the fact that glycine is the most important endogenous regulator of inflammation* Eating too much methionine (for example in red muscle meats) uses up glycine, potentially causing a deficiency.
Glycine also benefits the immune system. It’s main physiological function is to regulate the macrophages (large white blood cells) so they can go about their business of cleaning up after any injury.
Try that one out:
If you get sore after vigorous exercise, supplement with glycine before your next hard workout. The body will respond to the damage caused to the muscles by building even more muscle fibers, but the soreness is actually due to inflammation. Because of glycine’s anti inflammatory actions, the soreness doesn’t happen when you take it prior to exercise.
*(Glycine appears to exert several protective effects, including anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory and direct cytoprotective actions. Glycine acts on inflammatory cells such as macrophages to suppress activation of transcription factors and the formation of free radicals and inflammatory cytokines.” – Pubmed 12589194
Joel Brind, PhD, Professor of Biology and Endocrinology at Baruch College of the City University of New York recommends 8 grams per day. Watch his video lecture on the anti inflammatory properties of glycine.
Other experts recommend 3 – 5g a day.
To help with a restful night’s sleep, it is best taken before bedtime. To avoid soreness after a vigorous workout, take some before exercise.
Top source: Gelatine.
An easy way to get additional glycine is to take gelatine. Gelatine is made up of 35% glycine, 11% alanine, and 21% proline and hydroxyproline.
Some types of cell damage are prevented almost as well by alanine and proline as by glycine. So the use of gelatin rather than glycine on it’s own, is preferable, because in gelatin the glycine is associated with its naturally occurring biochemicals.
To make a calming nightcup, stir a tablespoon of plain gelatine into a hot cup of tea (preferably not caffeinated). It won’t affect the taste.
Other sources: pig skin and ears and tails, and chicken feet (commonly found in Asian grocery stores). If that doesn’t excite you much, stick with gelatine.
Here are a couple of options from Amazon:
Slight sedation can be a side effect of taking glycine. That’s why it’s best to take in the evening if you’re after the calming effect that helps you fall sleep. Even better, not only does it help you fall asleep more easily, it also helps you function better on less sleep.
It is generally considered non toxic.
Pure glycine is a useful and remarkably safe drug. But don’t think of it as a food because it is a manufactured product.
If you would like to supplement with glycine, try these:
Further reading on the importance of glycine: