GABA or Gamma-aminobutyric acid was discovered in 1950 and ever since it is known as the leading inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. Of the record, GABA is known as the ‘chill’ neurotransmitter, as GABA’s leading benefits are calm, relaxation, and stress reduction.
What Is GABA?
GABA is an amino acid produced in the brain. GABA’s main function is to be a neurotransmitter, responsible for facilitating proper communication among brain cells. In addition, GABA’s big role in the body is to lower the activity of neurons in the brain and the central nervous system.
GABA offers a broad range of effects on the body as well as on the mind, including relaxation, lowering stress and offering more calm and balanced mood. In addition, GABA is great for boosting sleep.
Also, a significant number of medications interact with GABA and GABA receptors in the brain, adjusting their functions in order to achieve certain effects. In addition, medications like anesthetics, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, anti-depressants, and anti-seizure medications are some of the medications that target GABA.
Moreover, a number of natural supplements affect GABA activity in order to relieve stress and anxiety, promote a balanced mood, and help with sleep. Also, valerian, magnesium, and L-theanine have a significant effect on the brains’ GABA activity. Other natural supplements that may affect the brain’s GABA activity include L-arginine, passion flower, American ginseng, and others.
Naturally, GABA is found in varieties of green, oolong, and black tea, as well as in fermented food, including kefir, tempeh, and yogurt. Other foods may contain GABA or may even boost its production in the body, including soy, nuts, fish, citrus, cocoa and many more.
People are always confused about GABA because it is both a chemical produced within the body and a supplement that’s made for ingestion. Therefore, it is easy to find a GABA supplement in any market. These supplements are often used to treat sleep, anxiety, stress, high blood pressure and also to support the body’s natural growth hormone. In this case, it is used mostly by athletes.
How Does GABA Work?
Shortly and simply said, GABA is the brakes of the brain. The most important body’s inhibitory neurotransmitter is GABA, which means it lowers the activity of neural cells in the brain and central nervous system.
By inhibiting neural activity, GABA facilitates sleep. In addition, GABA reduces mental and physical stress, lowers anxiety, and creates a calmness of mood. Next, GABA plays an important role in balancing muscle tone.
Furthermore, in combination with glutamate, the body’s most important excitatory neurotransmitter, GABA is an important contributor to the body’s overall mental and physical homeostasis or balance. Also, GABA plays a major role in the healthy functioning of the body’s immune and endocrine systems.
Moreover, GABA regulates also gut health and gastrointestinal function, where it may work to support the immune system, mobility, and to help regulate hormone activity.
Low GABA activity in the body can result in:
Low GABA activity can also lead to memory problems, difficulty concentrating, and frequent headaches. In addition, low GABA activity is also connected with substance use disorders.
There is an ongoing debate and also research on how GABA supplements actually work within the body, and how their mechanisms of action may differ from the body’s own internally-produces GABA.
But how does GABA actually works?
- You have to take an important test or presentation at 1 pm and you are feeling extremely anxious
- Your brain will recognize anxiety and try to balance out the effects by sending urgent signals to your GABA receptors
- GABA inhibits the anxiety and start to feel calmer and ready to take the exam
Most people can connect with these feelings but they don’t feel the relaxation in most cases. When it happens, it means that GABA deficiency is present.
GABA Deficiency And The Sleep Cycle
If you are constantly experiencing anxiety, any form of anxious feelings or you are experiencing trouble sleeping on a daily level, it’s possible that you could have a GABA deficiency. This is not something that should leave you worrying as we all have deficiencies in certain neurotransmitters.
But understanding why we have deficiencies in the first place is what makes us determined to live a happier and healthier life. However, in order for you to understand how GABA influences a person’s sleeping patterns, it’s important to understand the standard cycle that the brain undergoes each night during sleep. Standard cycle in a nutshell:
- Stage 1: You are getting sleepy.
- Stage 2: Your brainwave activity follows a steadier rhythm. Heart rate and temperature decrease.
- Stage 3: Slower and deeper brain waves occur. This is the stage when you go from light sleep to deep sleep.
- Stage 4: This stage is reserved for deep sleep, also known as ‘delta sleep’. The highest-quality sleep occurs at this stage.
- Stage 5: In this stage, most dreams occur, and this stage is also known as the REM (rapid eye movement). This stage is crucial when your immune system grows stronger.
For perfect sleep, at night you need to optimize all five stages as each has its own unique role. The key neurotransmitter that can ‘kick off’ each stage is the GABA. When GABA levels are low, you are looking ahead a restless night. GABA deficiency makes it hard to fall asleep and you will spend most of your night turning and tossing repeatedly. In addition, you may not even reach stages 3, 4, and 5.
There is a number of benefits that can lead to a much better, healthier and better life. Benefits are easily seen in improved sleep, lower stress and anxiety level, and lower high blood pressure.
1. Benefits Of GABA For Sleep
GABA enables the body and mind to relax and fall asleep. Therefore, GABA activity is important for sleep. Moreover, low GABA activity is linked to insomnia and disrupted sleep. There are some studies that showed that GABA levels in people with insomnia are 30 percent lower than in people without the sleep disorder.
Also, big-pharma sleep medications including zolpidem and eszopiclone target the body’s GABA system to increase sedation and sleep. However, the downside of these sleep medications is possible hallucinations.
On the other hand, a recent study showed that a combination of GABA and 5-HTP may together improve sleep quality and even increase sleep time.
2. Benefits Of GABA For Stress And Anxiety
GABA’s primary role is to diminish the activity of neurons in the brain and central nervous system, which puts the body in a greater state of relaxation, and moreover lowers the level of stress and anxiety.
However, GABA comes with an extraordinary ability to relax body even when it’s taken in the form of a supplement. Some studies have shown that people who intake GABA before a stressful situation, especially young students or high school pupils before the test, were less stressful. Also, people who ate chocolate infused with GABA overcome faster test-related stress.
3. Benefits Of GABA For High Pressure
Occasionally, GABA supplements are used by people as a natural way to balance and lover the blood pressure. Proper blood pressure is important for adequate daily functioning. In addition, when properly balanced it can help you protect your sleep.
High blood pressure can be a sign of underlying health problem that can keep you awake at night and make it difficult to fall asleep. Also, it can keep you awake. Poor sleep as well as sleep disorders, especially sleep apnea, can strongly contribute to high blood pressure. Moreover, it can lead to the kind of hypertension that is difficult to treat.
GABA Supplement: What You Should Know?
Many people who suffer from poor sleep or a more severe sleeping condition, like insomnia, are choosing prescription and sleeping pills in order to boost their sleep.
The most popular drugs are benzodiazepines (Ativan, Klonopin, Xanax). These drugs are known for working on the GABA receptors, but they can have dangerous side effects and can be highly addictive. At the same time, a natural sleep aid known as GABA supplement can do the same and even better.
The most important thing when it comes to GABA supplements is to always consult your doctor before you start taking any supplement. Simply said, always consult your doctor, especially if you are already on med therapy or you are having some health problems.
The Best GABA Supplement
GABA is one of the most important supplements to take for better night sleep. However, you should know your dosage and which supplement will be your first choice. In order to do that properly, the best option is to talk to your doctor and listen to his advice.
However, one of the best ways to make GABA supplements work for you is to take an advanced supplement with added nutrients to enhance its absorption into the brain. Therefore, some general GAMA supplement recommendations are:
- for sleep, stress, and anxiety: 100-200 mg and higher doses
- for high blood pressure: 10-20 mg
How To Choose The Right GABA Supplement
The only way for GABA supplement to be competent is to make it to your brain. Sounds easy, but in reality, it’s kind of challenging.
GABA is a self-inhibiting compound. It means that the brain controls whether or not he will receive something into the brain. The control process happens at the blood-brain barrier (BBB), which determines what’s allowed to flow the brain into the blood and vice versa. Its main purpose is to protect the brain from toxins that may be active in the bloodstream.
So, if your body is producing less GABA, you’re running on a low deficiency, and therefore an ordinary supplement won’t solve the problem. Simply, it won’t cross the blood-brain barrier and you will not see any of the benefits, including relaxation, improved sleep, and calm.
The truth is, GABA supplements work best when taken as an enhanced supplement, or in combination with other supplements.
Also, it is good to know that some side effects can be present when you are using the GABA supplement. Supplements are usually more than well tolerated by healthy adults. However, some people may experience negative side effects, such as:
- Gastric distress
- Burning throat
- Diminished appetite
- Muscle weakness
- Shortness of breath
- Drowsiness and fatigue
Conclusion On GABA
GABA can help you sleep better and thanks to that you can have a better lifestyle and better health. Simply said, GABA can help you fall asleep and stay asleep. The most important thing about GABA is a balance. Too little GABA or too much of GABA is not good. Each case can affect your sleep.
With too little GABA you won’t be able to reach deep stages of sleep and you will miss on essential rest and recovery. Therefore, it’s important to visit your doctor and check your GABA levels and see what are the best supplements that you can use in order to have balanced metabolism and steady sleep.