Tag Archives: sleep

Alcohol Mimics GABA – A night cap may get you to sleep, but studies show it may also wake you up

The following article first appeared at washingtonpost.com and was written by Jordan Gaines. We have included the section here that discusses the amino acid GABA, but please read the whole story to discover how alcohol mimics GABA amino acid in the brain.

When you take a swig of alcohol, it goes right into the bloodstream, and it’s in your brain within minutes.

Alcohol mimics gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), the major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. When bound to a GABA receptor on a neuron, alcohol allows the influx of negative (or efflux of positive) ions, giving the cell a more negative charge. Thus, the neuron’s attempt to fire an action potential is thwarted.

Alcohol also inhibits the brain’s major excitatory neurotransmitter, glutamate, by blocking function at glutamate’s NMDA receptors.

Since glutamatergic and GABAergic neurons comprise 90 percent of all brain cells, this is a pretty big deal. Especially since alcohol also enhances GABA absorption back into the neuron, and even more especially since GABA is recycled into glutamate in a vicious cycle: After an evening of drinking, the theory is that GABA dominates the first half of the night, allowing us to fall asleep (and deeply!). But once GABA is metabolized, much of it becomes the excitatory glutamate. And it’s in glutamate-releasing brain regions (such as the reticular activating system which partially modulates sleep/wake and arousal) that the midnight disruptions kick in.

Midnight Snacks That Help You Sleep – GABA Insomnia Cure

So tonight I awoke at 2:30AM for the usual reasons—to go to the bathroom and get some water; however, my mind started racing and I couldn’t sleep. It’s an altogether too-common problem for many people. So what did I do? Well, first I wrote this article so it will help others, but secondly, I reached out to cure what ails me, foods containing GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) for a natural GABA insomnia cure.

GABA is an amino acid, and a natural cure for insomnia. Sure, I could take a prescription drug for insomnia, but I doubt my doctor can help me at this hour of the night. I could take an over the counter sleep aid (like allergy medicines: Excedrin PM, Tylenol PM, or Nytol—these contain diphenhydramine, which causes drowsiness and sometimes help people sleep) but why take something that is designed for allergies just to sleep?

I could also take a natural sleep aid supplement, such as GABA supplements, or a sleep aid that is a GABA insomnia cure? GABA medications that are also sleep medicines include: Ambien (zolpidem tartrate), Lunesta (eszopiclone), Ambien CR (zolpidem tartrate extended release), and Sonata (zaleplon)… but who wants to run to the local 24-hour drug store in the middle of the night?

What if a store near you is not even open? Why not simply walk to my kitchen for a moment and grab a snack that already a great source of GABA to help me sleep?

GABA insomnia cure: Foods in your kitchen that aid sleep

Food that triggers the brain’s neurotransmitters to help you sleep, GABA insomnia cure type foods are a quick and easy answer that works! I mean, does it make sense for you to grab drinks or foods that would keep you awake? Coffee, tea, soda pop, hot chocolate, or other drinks with caffeine do not make any sense in the middle of the night, so why eat foods that will keep you awake either?

Try a handful of raw nuts, particularly almonds (or even mixed nuts), especially if they are raw. Bananas also have GABA in them. Leftovers are also easy to snack on in the wee hours… consider any of these GABA insomnia cure foods: broccoli, brown rice, lentils, oranges/citrus fruits, beef liver, halibut, rice bran, spinach, walnuts, tree nuts, whole wheat, other whole grains like whole oats. Also, fish (mackerel in particular) and wheat bran are known to have some of the highest concentrations of GABA that are naturally occurring.

I always keep raw nut mix available to me at all times. I have already popped a handful of GABA-insomnia-cure natural sleep aid food into my mouth and am ready to lie down and rest my mind, and my body…

And with that, I bid you, goodnight… ZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzz…

References:

http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/sleeping-pills-what-need-know

http://extrahappiness.com/happiness/?p=3582

Theanine Amino Acid Improves Sleep Quality For ADHD Children

Fantastic news for parents of ADHD children: the amino acid L-theanine will help their children sleep. A recent Canadian study proved that L-theanine significantly improves sleep quality in ADHD children, which benefits the entire family.

ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is a neurobehavioral disorder characterized by either significant difficulties of inattention or hyperactivity and impulsiveness or a combination of the two.

As many as 50% of ADHD children experience sleep problems. ADHD children often resist going to bed, and take a long time to fall asleep. They wake at night, and may also suffer from restless legs syndrome, or sleep apnea. And because they don’t get enough sleep these ADHD children are not alert in the mornings, and are tired during the day.

A Canadian study by researchers (M Lyon, M Kapoor, et al) from the University of British Columbia hoped to prove that a synthesized product of the amino acid L-theanine improved sleep quality in ADHD children.

Theanine is an amino acid primarily found in green tea leaves. It can cross the blood–brain barrier—in fact EEG results show L-theanine inducing changes in brain waves. The amino acid makes our brains produce alpha waves, which are associated with relaxation.

ADHD sleep quality improved by amino acid L-theanine

93 children with ADHD completed the UBC trial. They were given four chewable, fruit-flavored  L-theanine tablets, or a placebo, every day during the 10-week clinical trial. Their sleep quality was measured, using a wristwatch-like monitoring device measuring sleep activity levels, sleep duration, nocturnal awakenings and sleep patterns. In addition, the parents completed a pediatric sleep questionnaire.

Results showed the children who had taken L-theanine tablets had a significantly higher sleep percentage and reduced nocturnal motor activity compared to the placebo group. They slept longer, with less moving around. This improves their attention, memory, emotion and behavior during the day.

L-theanine supplements are valuable new therapies for helping children with ADHD get enough sleep.

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Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22214254