Ever heard of GABA? If not, you may be missing out on a good night’s sleep

This story is part of 12 days of tipsso you can make the most of your technology, home and health during the holiday season.

Are you sleeping enough? Experts recommend 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Quality rest helps us promote a healthier mind and body as it can affect mood, knowledge retention, your immune system, muscle tissue repair, the list goes on. However, data shows that insomnia affects nearly one-third to one-half of the adult population in America. If you’ve tried every sleep remedy in the book, from night yoga to melatonin, and you don’t seem to get knocked out at night, this supplement might do the trick.

Enter gamma-aminobutyric acid.

It is an amino acid found naturally in the body and promotes a calming effect. GABA is often taken as a dietary supplement, but it has proven to be a good alternative to melatonin sleep aids. It only affects the early stages of sleep and makes you feel more awake in the morning, and some people say that popular sleep supplements such as melatonin makes them drowsy. While there is limited research, the small studies that have been conducted yield positive results showing that GABA may be worth a try if you can’t fall asleep.

Here’s what we know about GABA, tips on how to take it and why it could be a good sleep aid to consider if you’re having trouble falling asleep.

For more help getting quality rest, try these seven natural sleep aids for insomnia and how create the perfect environment for sleeping.

What is GABA?

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GABA is a neurotransmitter that occurs naturally in the brain and even in some foods such as tomatoes and soybeans. It is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that blocks chemical signals in the central nervous system and reduces brain activity. GABA can help promote calmness in the body and helps regulate the hyperactivity of nerve cells when one is feeling anxious, anxious or stressed.

It is sold over the counter as a dietary supplement, but the effects of GABA may also be beneficial for people who have trouble falling asleep.

Taking GABA to sleep

Taken alone or with other natural sleep aids, GABA supplements help address anxiety, stress and an overactive brain, three main offenders that make it hard to fall asleep. The calming effect puts the mind in a relaxed state, so you’re in the right headspace to fall asleep.

In fact, low GABA levels have been linked to sleep deprivation, as one study found that participants with insomnia had 30% lower levels of GABA in their systems. Another small-scale study by Frontiers in Neuroscience of middle-aged adults found that taking 300 mg of GABA before bed for at least a week can reduce sleep latency (the amount of time it takes to fall asleep).

There is no solid research showing that GABA helps sleep efficiency (sleep quality and slow sleep), but the results of the study showed that it can promote drowsiness because it affects early stages of sleep. Another benefit is that you won’t feel drowsy the next morning like other over-the-counter medications like ZzzQuil or prescription sleep medications.

Tips to take GABA for sleep

1. GABA can be taken with your diet as a supplement or powder.

2. Take GABA 30 to 60 minutes before bed for best results (as shown by studies).

3. Follow the dosing instructions and keep track of the amount and how often you take GABA.

4. Use a sleep diary to document your sleep quality so you can identify patterns and potential side effects while tracking GABA’s effectiveness.

5. GABA occurs naturally in fermented foods such as kimchi, sourdough, sake, and mulberry beer.

6. Always talk to your doctor before taking GABA or any new supplements.

Side Effects of Taking GABA

According to the Sleep Foundation, there are no serious side effects when taking GABA in small doses from sleep or dietary supplements. However, some consumers have reported feeling a stomach ache or headache. High levels of GABA in the brain are linked to daytime sleepiness, and a small number of people report drowsiness after taking GABA.

As you should with any new supplement, consult your doctor before taking GABA. Especially when taken in combination with other medications or prescriptions.

People at higher risk of an adverse reaction to GABA include:

  • Pregnant woman
  • Persons under the age of 18
  • People taking prescriptions for high blood pressure
  • People taking medicines for epilepsy

Other benefits of GABA: stress and anxiety

While research is still limited, there is more data supporting GABA as a stress and anxiety savior continues to emerge. While relieving anxiety and stress before bed should not be taken lightly as it can have a significant impact on sleep latency and overall sleep quality.

The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care professional if you have any questions about a medical condition or health goals.

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