L-Theanine and GABA for Sleep

Taking theanine and gaba for sleep is beneficial for everyone, even your cat!

Insomnia is a fairly large but common problem. The amount of input our brains are forced to deal with on a daily basis is far beyond that of 50 years ago.

Now, with mobile phones, constant internet connections, social media notifications and DVRs with hundreds of channels, it’s hard for many people to properly disconnect enough to get a good night’s sleep.

The importance of good sleep cannot be understated. Sleep deficiency has been linked to problems ranging from heart health to weight issues. It can also have a very negative impact on your mood and cognitive performance.

So how are we to deal with this sleep problem? A natural approach to improving sleep quality is to get enough exercise, eat a healthy diet, and reduce the sources of stress in the environment.

Even if all those pieces are in place, it can still feel like not enough so additional help may be needed. Natural supplements are a great way to help you get to sleep. Two popular supplements with synergistic properties that help with relaxation and sleep quality is the l-theanine and GABA combination.

L-Theanine and GABA as Sleep Aids

L-theanine, also simply known as theanine, is an amino acid naturally found in green tea. It has effective daytime use as a supplement to help with cognition and concentration. The main function of l-theanine is to inhibit certain neurotransmitters to reduce anxiety and increase dopamine levels.

The anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effects of theanine translate well into nighttime use as well. Simply being more calm and less high-strung in the evening can help you get to sleep faster.

A study was performed in Japan on 22 men, about half were daytime workers and the other half were students. The group was given a placebo before sleep for six days and then l-theanine after that. When the study concluded, 70% of the participants reported more sleep efficiency, better mood before sleep, and less nightmares.This is all without the morning drowsiness that can accompany other sleep aids. [1]

For coffee drinkers, an animal study showed that l-theanine can help counteract caffeine-induced sleep disturbance. [2] Theanine was also shown to improve sleep quality in boys with attention issues. [3]

GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, which means it serves to slow down certain parts of the central nervous system and helps regulate nervous system excitability [4]. In addition to being a critical factor in maintaining ideal cognitive well being, GABA deficiencies have been linked to sleep problems.

Studies show that insomnia is caused by low GABA levels. [5] When there is not enough GABA present in the brain, the areas that GABA slows down keep on going and the activity doesn’t decrease as it normally would when the body winds down. GABA has been shown to positively impact deep sleep, the most important type of sleep we need. So even if you can fall asleep, a GABA deficiency may reduce the amount of deep sleep your body gets. [5]

L-Theanine and GABA have different, yet very complementary mechanisms of action when it comes to sleep. The addition of either one or both of these to your nightly routine could help you get to sleep faster, sleep deeper, and wake more rested than before.

GABA and L-Theanine Sleep Supplements Online

When looking for a supplier for GABA, L-theanine and other supplements, there are a few important points to keep in mind.  Firstly, the website should be upfront about the ingredients included in the supplements, such as whether or not it is pure Theanine or Theanine with other additives.

Secondly, the price should be competitive with the rest of the suppliers in the market.  If the price is significantly higher or significantly lower, there may be something else at play.

Finally, figure out if the supplier uses third-party testing to verify the quality and purity of the product.  This third-party testing is a huge indicator of honesty and quality from the supplier. One supplier that I frequently use is Powder City. They meet all of the above criteria and have been good to me in the past.


  1. www.ismh.org
  2. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22285321
  3. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22214254
  4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamma-Aminobutyric_acid
  5. www.webmd.com


David Johnson is a freelancer with an avid interest in supplements that help relax, enhance mood, and provide cognitive enhancement. Most days he can be found researching innovative ways to bring his readers sounder sleep, better moods, and more.