So many people are turning towards natural remedies to help them with sleep. A pharmaceutical industry flooded with products that have unwanted side effects and can even have addictive properties has, well, tired us out.
L-theanine is one of the most popular and promising naturopathic treatments for sleep. Find out more about how you can use l-theanine for sleep and potential l-theanine health benefits in our complete guide.
What is L-Theanine?
L-theanine is a naturally occurring amino acid. Ever wondered why a nice cup of herbal tea helps you feel calm? It's partly the ritual, of course, but it's also due to the chemical composition of the tea leaves.
Green and black tea leaves are perhaps the richest natural source of l-theanine. While it also occurs in certain mushrooms, most people access it by drinking tea. Its potential benefits have been suggested to include:
- Improved sleep
- A sense of calm
- Lowered stress levels
- Better focus
- Wider health benefits
While medical studies into l-theanine benefits are still in their infancy (the chemical was only isolatedby Japanese scientists in 1949!), it's considered one of the most exciting natural ingredients for improving sleep. So how does this work?
It's believed that this amino acid helps promote levels of healthy chemicals in the brain, such as GABA(Gamma-aminobutyric acid), serotonin, and dopamine.
Serotonin is responsible for a general sense of well-being – it helps regulate the central nervous system and plays a role in everything from sleep functions to sexual desire. Low levels of serotonin can cause low mood, and anxiety, and even reduce physical functions.
Dopamine is the chemical that the brain associates with rewards. You've probably heard of the phrase “a dopamine hit” – this means that when your brain interacts with dopamine, it feels a sense of calm and achievement.
It's argued that l-theanine benefits include better facilitation of these chemicals in the brain. If so, this would suggest that increasing your l-theanine intake could have wide-ranging benefits for your health, your sense of well-being, and the way you enjoy life and perceive the world around you.
Below are a few purported l-theanine benefits.
Promoting Better Sleep
Using l-theanine for sleep is an increasingly popular naturopathic treatment. Suggestions that it helps to regulate healthy brain chemicals could be extremely beneficial for sleep, as we're less likely to get high-quality rest when we're stressed or anxious. It's often enjoyed alongside valerian root, which has similar reported properties.
Many people drink tea before bed because it helps create a sense of calm. In the summer, a cup of iced tea can also help cool you down before you sleep – and the inverse in winter with hot tea! This isn't just to do with the pleasant ritual of enjoying your favorite brew before you rest. Black tea is rich in this amino acid, which is perhaps why tea is considered such an effective proponent of good sleep.
If l-theanine helps to boost GABA levels in the brain and regulate your serotonin and dopamine levels, it stands to reason that you'd feel more relaxed and able to settle down after a cup of tea. The same is true of l-theanine supplements – these could help drive down anxiety levels and allow you to get a full, healthy night's sleep.
Helping You Feel Calm
The benefits of well-regulated dopamine levels don't just apply to sleep. Feeling calm throughout the day has wide-ranging benefits and can help develop a better relationship with the world around you – this is a primary goal of herbal remedies and naturopathic treatments.
Well-regulated dopamine levels help create a proportionate sense of achievement and well-being. For example, you might feel less stressed about an “essential work assignment”, realizing that it's only a small portion of your life. Equally, you might feel more able to focus on vital tasks because you feel less negative and more able to focus (see below).
L-theanine's reported ability to moderate dopamine levels in the brain could contribute to an improved sense of wellness and calm throughout the day. Feeling calm can help you enjoy a healthier, more balanced life – have you ever felt at your best when you're making frantic decisions?
In addition to promoting a sense of tranquility, a potential l-theanine benefit is that it could help bring down stress levels. Stress isn't simply the opposite of calm – it's an identified medical condition. Stress can be caused by many factors, including your job, your home life, and financial worries.
Chronic or acute stress can be physically debilitating. It also makes it virtually impossible to achieve restful sleep.
Improving serotonin levels in your body enables your nervous system to function more effectively. Stress has a terrible effect on the nervous system, which can have a long-term physical impact on your body. Nervous disorders can lead to:
- Impaired movement
- An inability to think clearly
- Difficulty speaking
- Related issues like anxiety disorders
Serotonin plays a key role in mediating your nervous system and helping you cope with stressful situations. A reported l-theanine benefit is increasing serotonin levels. This could reduce your chances of suffering from a stress-related condition, which in turn is a major reason people are turning towards l-theanine for sleep. No stress, better rest.
Another potential l-theanine benefit lies in improving your ability to focus. This includes dull, repetitive tasks such as those that you might perform at work. However, it also covers focusing on complex and creative tasks, such as learning to play the piano or writing a novel.
Improved focus can also have notable benefits in many people's day-to-day lives. A wide range of medical or psychological conditions can make it difficult for people to focus on what's in front of them. This could be the person talking to you or a long film – being able to focus can improve your social life and enable you to enjoy and appreciate the world around you.
Improving Memory Functions
It's been reported that a higher intake of l-theanine can also help you develop better memory functions. This is incredibly useful in day-to-day life – where did I put my keys? When was that assignment due? Being able to remember bits of information can make your life so much easier, thereby also decreasing stress levels.
This may also have long-term benefits. Memory loss is common in older people, and conditions such as Alzheimer's Disease cause a rapid deterioration of memory. Much study has gone into how the risk of Alzheimer's Disease can be reduced in the past couple of decades. Eating a healthy, balanced diet rich in natural amino acids such as l-theanine is argued to be one of the best ways to reduce your risk of memory loss in later years.
Regulating Your Digestion
A study has suggested that an l-theanine benefit might include reducing manifestations of stress on the digestive system. Higher stress levels can have a severe impact on your digestion, which in turn impacts your sleep – regular digestion is important for high-quality rest. It's why you tend to sleep poorly if you eat a large meal just before bed.
People often drink tea when they have an upset stomach. Part of the reason this is considered helpful might be down to the presence of l-theanine. If your digestion is regular and your stress levels are lowered, this is a great reason to consider taking l-theanine before bed.
Can You Use L-Theanine for Sleep?
While medical studies are still in their infancy when it comes to using l-theanine for sleep, the signs are promising. Its purported ability to regulate GABA, dopamine, and serotonin in the brain would certainly make it a top choice as a sleep aid.
This stands in contrast to powerful pharmaceuticals that tend to “overwhelm” your brain to make it shut down. While people sometimes consider this useful, long-term use of prescription sleeping pills can have severely adverse effects on your health and well-being. It's not giving you better sleep – it's making it impossible for you to stay awake.
Using l-theanine for sleep is a more holistic approach. Taking l-theanine before bed won't “force” to you sleep. Rather, it might encourage your brain and body to accept their natural inclination to rest. By reducing stress levels and calming anxious thoughts, using l-theanine for sleep might mitigate factors that stop you from getting your normal night's sleep.
Taking L-Theanine Before Bed
If you're considering taking l-theanine before bed, it's important to decide how to go about it. Many people enjoy a cup of green tea, which is naturally rich in this amino acid (more on the best ways to take l-theanine for sleep below). However, you might consider taking tea with a supplement to minimize your stress levels, especially if you've previously tried prescription medication and found it harms your life's balance.
As a naturally occurring amino acid, taking l-theanine before bed isn't putting anything artificial into your body. It's simply encouraging your body to accept the rest that it already needs. If the reported l-theanine benefits sound like things that commonly prevent you from sleeping, taking l-theanine before bed might be the change you've needed.
How to Take L-Theanine for Sleep
There are several ways to enjoy l-theanine for sleep, which can be combined with other natural remedies. Here are some of the most popular ways to take l-theanine before bed.
L-theanine supplements often contain other helpful, natural remedies besides the key amino acid. These work harmoniously to promote a sense of well-being and improved mood, which can lull you into a gentle, relaxing sleep.
Black or green tea is rich in this amino acid. It's also delicious and won't impact your sleep if it doesn't contain caffeine. L-theanine may also mitigate the effects of caffeine, making it a great way to wind down after a long day.
Some mushrooms contain l-theanine, although these are typically harder to find than tea or effective supplements. Mushrooms can also be somewhat bitter, which is why many people prefer to use supplements containing l-theanine before bed.
What Should You Take L-Theanine With?
Is it safe to combine l-theanine with other natural remedies? High-quality supplements containing l-theanine for sleep only combine it with other plant botanicals that are perfectly safe when taken in conjunction. Below are some of the most popular and effective combinations.
Valerian root has long been used as a sleep aid. It was a popular choice among the Ancient Greeks and Romans, and since then a substantial bodyof scientific work has built up around using the valerian root for sleep.
It combines well with l-theanine and the 2 have similar reported properties – improving a sense of well-being, enhancing your mood, and reducing stress levels.
It's worth noting that most naturopathic remedies aren't enjoyed because they're “powerful”. They're used because they're effective ways to encourage your body's natural rhythms. This is why they're often used in conjunction with each other, such as taking valerian root with l-theanine. It's not about “upping the dosage”; it's about what helps your body stabilize itself.
The hops flower is widely considered to help promote restful sleep. It may not be what you're thinking – while hops are used in beer, it's nothing to do with the way beer makes you sleepy!
Hops flowers have a gentle, earthy flavor, which is why they're a popular addition to many natural sleep supplements. They mitigate the bitterness that some other flavors can carry. Like valerian root, hops flowers help build a sense of tranquility and calm.
Hemp extract comes from the cannabis plant. CBD and CBN are popular types of hemp extract that have no psychoactive properties and are widely enjoyed for promoting a sense of calmness and wellbeing.
Hemp combines well with l-theanine and other ingredients on this list owing to their mutually relaxing properties. Using CBN for sleep is increasingly popular in the U.S., so hemp and l-theanine are natural bedfellows (sorry).
GABA is an acid that acts in the brain, blocking neurotransmitters and helping your mind shut down before sleep. It's commonly used in natural medications that promote healthy sleep – using l-theanine for sleep may also increase natural levels of GABA in the brain.
How Using L-Theanine for Sleep Can Improve Your Health
Sleep is an incredibly important part of our lives. Modern life wears us out and doesn't give us enough time for sleep – this can lead to a variety of health conditions and negative feelings. When you use l-theanine for sleep, you're potentially unlocking the benefits of proper rest: here's what you could gain.
Lack of sleep leads to irritability and can contribute to depression. Sleep deprivation is a leading cause of poor performance at work, motor accidents, and prolonged sleep deprivation can even trigger psychosis.
By ensuring that you're getting the proper rest without recourse to prescription medications, you're setting yourself up for a healthier, more wholesome lifestyle.
When you wake up from a good night's rest, you feel sharper and more prepared for the day. You're able to focus on tasks more effectively and perform better at work. You'll also find that you get more out of conversations, offer richer contributions, and enjoy other people's company more when you've had a full night's sleep.
We need to focus if we're going to function properly. Using l-theanine for sleep can help get you the high-quality rest you need to stay focused and attentive throughout the day.
Lower Risk of Heart Disease
Lack of sleep can lead to an increased risk of heart disease and even cardiac arrest. Combined with the stresses of modern life, poor-quality sleep can cause your health to deteriorate and put you at risk of dangerous conditions like coronary heart disease and arrhythmia.
Ever notice that when you wake up after snatching a few hours of rest, your heart is beating much faster than normal? This isn't healthy or normal – your heart rate should only increase that much when you're exercising. Improving your sleep by enjoying key l-theanine benefits is a great way to ensure that when you wake up, you feel rested and ready for the day.
We hear a lot about how a poor diet can take years off your life. While this is true, stress is almost as dangerous when it comes to enjoying a long life – and especially the “enjoyment” part. Better sleep will give you more years and help you appreciate them.
Sense of Positivity
People are discovering that using l-theanine for sleep as supplements or tea gives them a greater sense of positivity and a more joyful outlook. It's no surprise, given how dangerous sleep deprivation can be to your state of mind. A key l-theanine benefit in the context of sleep is in bringing the light back into your eye and the spring back into your step.
L-Theanine for Sleep: Final Thoughts
If you're looking for the best natural remedies and supplements for sleep, consider using l-theanine combined with ingredients like valerian root, hemp, hops flowers, and GABA. It's a great way to encourage your body back to its natural rhythms and enjoy the benefits that follow.