Tag Archives: insomnia

Improve Sleep for Insomnia via Amino Acids and Deep Breathing

1… 2… 3… 4… How many of us have tried counting sheep, or other things that never seem to work, just to get some sleep at night? Insomnia can strike a person for a good many reasons, including: worry or fretting, stress or anxiety, racing thoughts, sleep cycles being off kilter (light therapy can sometimes help), hormones or metabolic reasons, and even due to being overly tired, among other things. However, there are two natural things you can do to help you sleep… take certain amino acids, and perform certain breathing exercises.

Studies have shown that increasing oxygen levels through deep breathing exercises, contrary to popular belief, can actually help induce sleep rather than wake you up. This is due to the connection with CO2 (carbon dioxide) levels in the body, which I will go into later.

Interestingly, amino acids can also help relieve insomnia. Two of the common 22 amino acids, in particular, are able help calm the mind and induce rest in a weary but aggravated body.

Insomniacs need oxygen, and amino acids for serotonin

Adults with insomnia were studied and given relaxation techniques, including deep breathing exercises (do not forget about bedtime yoga!) as part of information included in complementary and alternative medicine or naturopathic medicine techniques. These insomniacs, after being informed of these easy activities at bedtime, had higher rates of continued use.

Deep breathing exercises aside, it is not just increasing oxygen levels alone that help you relax and slumber, but reducing CO2 levels in the body. Amino acids actually play a vital role in this process.

In a fascinating cross-species study that compared plants, insects, animals, and humans, the levels of CO2 and anxiety were investigated. Anyone who has woken up in the night due to a panic attack knows what I am speaking about here. CO2 levels are higher in correspondence with anxiety or negative emotions.

There is a neurological ‘fear circuit’ that is not entirely understood, but evidence reviewed on the amino acid GABA (gamma-amino butyric acid) may help modulate anxiety that is CO2 induced. That is, if you take the GABA amino acid, it could help calm the mind, anxiety, and troubling thoughts so you can sleep.

Another amino acid that is known to be a natural sedative is tryptophan (like what makes you tired from turkey meat), plus serotonin (the feel-good neurotransmitter) and melatonin also help you induce sleep.

GABA and tryptophan are commonly available as supplements at health food stores and drug stores as a sleep aid. So breathe deeply and reduce the amount of CO2 in your body, plus take amino acid GABA and/or tryptophan to complement this for a good night’s rest.

References:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23243402

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18485466

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22652369

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22365651

Valium (Diazepam) or GABA supplement?

Valium, also sold under a Diazepam brand name, is a a benzodiazepine drug. But would GABA amino acid supplement be as effective or even more potent than Diazepam?

According to Wikipedia, it is commonly used to treat anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia, seizures, spasms, restless legs syndrome    and  alcohol withdrawal.

GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is called your brain’s natural Valium.  In fact, Valium or Diazepam was designed to mimic and enhance GABA’s calming impact.

GABA is both an amino acid and a potent mood enhancer and an inhibitory neurotransmitter which reduces the impact of other brain reactions such as the production of chemicals like adrenaline, the levels of which increase when you are under distress.  These reactions are called “excitatory”.

What happens when you take GABA amino acid?

When you take a GABA supplement, it may fully turn off your stress reaction to an external effect, enabling you to deal with a potential upset, and not become stressed at all.

On the other hand, if you are already stressed, taking GABA supplements can restore your calmness and getting rid of stress within minutes.

Some people can notice a difference already after 100 milligrams.  Personally, I do not feel any measurable effect until I increase the dose 15-fold.  This is one of the challenges with many dietary supplements including GABA and its stress reducing effect. You see, many supplement include various inactive ingredients that are used as lubricants in the production process.  They reduce the absorption rate. Secondly, the recommended daily dosage, if it exists, is a ‘one shoe size fits all’ -type of dosage.  With many natural compounds and dietary supplements including GABA, studies suggest that the response is dose-dependent.  In other words, a small girl might require 100 milligrams but a dramatically obese person with higher tolerance might require a much higher dosage.

Many supplement specialists recommend a maximum of 500 mg of GABA for stress and anxiety relief. They also recommend experimenting with the smallest amount to see how they respond.  My optimal level seems to be three times higher than the recommended 500 mg level.

Please note also that a smaller amount of GABA is intended to relax you, whereas a larger dose of GABA is intended to make you tired.

Pay attention to your reaction.  If you have an addiction, you are going through alcohol withdrawals and any other more serious issues for which your physician has prescribed you Valium or Diazepam or any other ‘benzo’ such Lorazepam, do not simply replace your prescription medicine with GABA dietary supplement. Discuss it first with your doctor.

Buy GABA Online:

GABA is available to purchase online. You can also find GABA at retailers such as GNC and Amazon.