Whether due to cramming procrastinated assignments into one long night of work or life's typical stresses and problems, the ability to sleep can become a luxury for working folk. Despite its cruciality for us to function throughout the day, some completely disregard this need or struggle to achieve a good night's rest.
Therefore, natural remedies such as melatonin, light exposure, and (to a lesser extent) aromatherapy and acupuncture have risen in popularity as over-the-counter solutions.
Another supplement that hasn't received quite as much exposure is GABA. Let's take a look at what this amino acid can do to resolve your sleeping issues, as well as the benefits of GABA for sleep and its possible side effects.
GABA for Sleep: An Overview
GABA (γ-Aminobutyric acid) is a naturally produced amino acid located inside the confines of your brain, serving as a facilitator for communication processes. According to theCleveland Health Clinic, its main responsibility is to slow your brain by blocking certain signals in your central nervous system. In other words, it functions as an inhibitory neurotransmitter.
Known for producing a calming effect when taken as a medication, GABA specifically regulates nerve cell hyperactivity, such as stress, fear, and anxiety-related feelings. A GABA sleep aid may be prescribed to soothe this hyperactivity.
Aside from medications, GABA also exists in various natural ingredients, such as oolong, black tea, and green tea. It can also be found in whole grains, soy, lentils, almonds, broccoli, walnuts, cocoa, shrimp, tomatoes, citrus, berries, spinach, and potatoes.
At this time, there are not enough studies sustaining the theory that foods containing GABA have the ability to reach your brain's receptors. This inaccessibility is due to the blood-brain barrier that prevents pathogens and microorganisms from invading our brains. Even so, anecdotal evidence supporting these foods' soporific effect is in ample supply.
How Does GABA Work?
γ-Aminobutyric acid was first produced in 1883 and was previously only recognized as a plant and microbial metabolic product. GABA was later identified to be an essential component of the mammalian central nervous system 67 years later. Moreover, it was discovered in 1959 via a study of crayfish muscle fibers that GABA functions as a stimulator of the inhibitory nerve.
Inhibitory neurotransmitters such as GABA are responsible for decreasing the stimulation of nerve activity inside the brain and transporting chemical messages from one nerve cell to the next. These messages and communication processes travel across small spaces known as synapses, and neurotransmitters must bind them to certain receptors on the target nerve cell.
There are two different kinds of γ-Aminobutyric acid receptors on nerve cells – GABA-A and GABA-B. When aGABA sleep aid binds to these receptors, your brain's functions slow down due to the amino acid decreasing the overall responsiveness of the nerve cell. Put simply, your brain won't be firing on all cylinders anymore, with GABA inhibiting its ability to function effectively.
Using GABA for sleep reduces neural activity and can also decrease stress, anxiety, and insomnia – more on these shortly. The amino acid directly counteracts glutamate's impact on your brain. Glutamate is the excitatory neurotransmitter inside your brain, which allows messages and signals to flow more effectively.
Thus, establishing a fine balance between GABA and glutamate is crucial to maintaining and maximizing the efficiency of your brain's activity and performance. Someone who struggles to find the energy or desire to perform their daily tasks would likely want a glutamate supplement to take their brain's excitement to new heights, while a person with an overreactive central nervous system might want a GABA sleep aid to regulate their brain's activity.
GABA is also vital in regulating metabolism and appetite levels, as well as supporting the endocrine and immune systems. Low GABA levels in the body can lead to symptoms such as difficulties in concentration, muscle pains, memory issues, insomnia, anxiety, elevated stress levels, and depression.
Insufficient amino acid levels can also indicate more problematic neurologic or mental health conditions. These include epilepsy and seizures, schizophrenia, depression, autism, and anxiety or mood disorders.Pyridoxine deficiency happens when a key vitamin responsible for producing GABA is missing and causes seizures in infancy, though this disease is quite rare.
Benefits of GABA
Whether it be as an insomnia cure, stress level reducer, anxiety soother, or high blood pressure remedy, GABA sleep aid supplements have a variety of functions that make them a popular product among today's sleep-deprived consumers. Here are some of the most notable benefits of GABA.
GABA for Stress & Anxiety Relief
GABA's most important task as a natural substance produced by the body is to reduce the activity of neurons in the brain and central nervous system, putting the body in a more relaxed state and alleviating anxiety and stress levels. Traditionally taken as a supplement, it may improve sleep by promoting relaxation and relieving anxiety and tension.
Because of long-standing concerns regarding supplementary GABA's capacity to enter the brain from the bloodstream, researchers continue to debate its usefulness in lowering anxiety and stress levels. Nonetheless, recentstudies have demonstrated that this inhibitory neurotransmitter might be able to relax the human body via the gut microbiome when taken as a supplement.
GABA for Sleep
Arguably its most important calling card, this vaunted amino acid is regarded as a holistic blessing in disguise for those suffering from sleep issues. Using GABA for sleep allows the body and mind to relax and drift into unconsciousness. It can also help people sleep longer.
This belief is backed up by numerous scientific studies, includingone in particular that combined γ-Aminobutyric acid with l-theanine. This study demonstrated that the combination of l-theanine and GABA has a positive effect on sleep quality and duration in comparison to the utilization of just one of these chemicals.
Low GABA activity has been associated with insomnia and sleep disruption. To enhance sedation and sleep, medicines such as zolpidem and eszopiclone target the body's GABA system. According to further research, one of these sleep drugs' unpleasant side effects, hallucinations, may be caused by changes in GABA activity.
GABA for Treating High Blood Pressure
GABA supplements are occasionally used as a natural method of lowering blood pressure. Maintaining healthy blood pressure is vital in and of itself, but it can also help preserve your good night's sleep. A normal decline in blood pressure during the night is part of the body's gradual transition into sleep.
Researchers have conducted studies that support this theory, with a 2019review of the amino acid suggesting that GABA supplements have antiseizure, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties. These properties may assist in treating conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
High blood pressure can indicate hyperarousal, a state of physical alertness that makes falling and staying asleep difficult. Poor sleep and sleeplessness, notably sleep apnea, contribute to elevated blood pressure and can lead to difficult-to-treat hypertension.
GABA for Weight Control
A 2021study using lean mice as test subjects demonstrated that dietary GABA might effectively suppress food intake, body weight, and fat accumulation. Research also showed that a further combination with vigabatrin induced antiobesity-like effects such as hypolipidemia and ketogenesis. It also improved glucose metabolism.
While there aren't many other studies that have examined GABA's viability as a weight control supplement, early returns appear promising.
Potential Side Effects
There isn't a wealth of studies that have analyzed the potential side effects of using a GABA sleep aid. Nonetheless, here are some of the ones most commonly reported by patients who have tried using GABA for sleep.
- Upset stomach
- Gastric distress
- Drowsiness and fatigue
- Reduced appetite
- Burning throat
- Muscle weakness
- Shortness of breath (at higher doses)
It's worth mentioning that the FDA does not regulate dietary supplements in the same way that pharmaceutical medicines are. Thus, people should only buy from trustworthy suppliers and businesses to reap the benefits of GABA for sleep.
Common Interactions With Other Medications & Supplements
Considering GABA supplements are meant to target a variety of common physical and mental health issues, they will sometimes be purchased by consumers already utilizing medications treating the same ailments. Any potential combination of supplements or medications should always be verified with your physician or doctor first.
If you're already taking anti-depressant and neurally-active drugs, adding a GABA sleep aid to the mix could have an undesirable effect.
Considering GABA supplements lower blood pressure, if you're already taking high blood pressure medication, these levels might reach dangerously low levels with the combination of both medications.
When taken in excess or combined with alcohol or opioids, GABA supplements can cause central nervous system (CNS) depression. This can cause the body to slow down to the point where the individual cannot breathe, resulting in a potentially fatal event. Thus, the two should not be combined under any circumstances.
The same goes for combining GABA with other natural remedies that treat high blood pressure. These remedies may include, but are not limited to:
- Blond psyllium and other fiber supplements
- Cod liver oil
- Coenzyme Q10
- Folic acid
- Alpha-linolenic acid
- Omega-3 fatty acids
Recommendations & Dosage Information
The dosages listed in this section will be based on those commonly used in scientific studies analyzing the benefits of GABA and its potential side effects. Nonetheless, you should always consult with your doctor to ensure you're getting the right amount of supplements based on your individual needs.
When it comes to treating sleeplessness or relieving stress and anxiety levels, doses within and above the 100-200 mg range were utilized in most scientific studies analyzing GABA. On the other hand, those seeking the remedy for high blood pressure purposes should stick to the lower range of 10-20 mg.
The Outlook on GABA as a Reliable Medication
GABA functions as a chemical messenger in our bodies. However, its usefulness as a supplement is less understood.
Some evidence suggests it may be a viable alternative for reducing stress, exhaustion, anxiety, and sleeplessness. However, more research is needed to fully appreciate the possible benefits of GABA for sleep.
If you're seeking natural stress relievers, GABA pills, which you can buy online, could be worth a try. However, they should not be used to treat any underlying illnesses that necessitate stronger medications and dosages, such as severe anxiety, seizure disorders, or high blood pressure. That being said, the benefits of GABA are too numerous to simply ignore its candidacy as a reliable medication.
Ways to Increase GABA Levels Without Supplements or Medications
Suppose you aren't entirely sold on the effectiveness of GABA for sleep or can't consume it safely due to your existing prescribed medication. In that case, there are other ways you can increase your GABA levels without supplements. These methods include regular exercise, meditation and mindfulness practices, yoga, limiting or quitting alcohol and drugs altogether, consuming the GABA-rich foods listed above, and avoiding junk foods whenever possible.
If you look closely, all of these activities are meant to address common everyday issues such as elevated stress levels and a lack of quality sleep. High GABA levels play a direct role in ensuring the negation of both issues in your day-to-day life. Lowering stress and improving your sleep are the primary benefits of GABA.
Purchase Your MDsleep GABA Sleep Aid!
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Being deprived of quality sleep only increases the likelihood of disorders such as obesity and diabetes. Thus, MDsleep's doctor-formulated, patient-tested, non-genetically modified, and non-intoxicating GABA sleep aid supplement might just be the right holistic and naturopathic approach for you. The benefits of GABA are just too promising to pass up.
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