The Best GABA Supplements to Improve Your Sleep and Mood

GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is a naturally occurring chemical compound produced in your brain, and, according to a recent study, helps to relax your body as well as your mind. "After 60 minutes of administration," the clinical trial's abstract reads. "GABA significantly increases alpha waves and decreases beta waves compared to water or L-theanine." The findings denote that GABA not only induces relaxation but also reduces anxiety. In fact, studies have found GABA is the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. Its levels are affected by poor diet, illness, age, and environmental toxins. Plus, an insufficient amount of GABA in your body can lead to anxiety, irritability, and sleep disorders like insomnia.

According to recent sleep studies, GABA levels are up to 30% lower in people suffering from insomnia. Similarly, GABA levels are also lower in patients with depression or mood disorders. But here's the thing: There isn't evidence proving that taking GABA orally increases its levels in the brain. Instead, experts recommend you take supplements with ingredients that increase GABA's effects by helping it better bind to your brain's receptors. That can be helpful in getting a more restful, deep sleep, as well as minimize stress overall. Sound good? We thought so too—so much so we asked a nutritionist for his recommendations. See below for his advice. 

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@victoriadawsonhoff

"Neutein contains patented antioxidant extracts from spearmint, which work to improve ease of falling asleep by increasing GABA levels in the brain," explains Mike Roussell, Ph.D., co-founder of Neutein. He notes the supplements improve focus, attention, and short-term memory as well. 

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Hallie Gould

"Many people supplement with GABA itself to increase their GABA levels," says Roussell. "Unfortunately, GABA does not cross from your blood stream into your brain. However, some researchers think that supplementing with GABA can have a relaxatory effect by interacting with other parts of your nervous system (and not your brain directly)," he says. This option relieves nervous tension, promotes relaxation, and has a calming effect after absorption.

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Hallie Gould

"Taurine is an amino acid that can increase levels of GABA in our brains," notes Roussell. Though you should avoid taking it with caffeine (as in many energy drinks), Roussell says the supplement will help promote GABA in the body and increase alertness during the day.

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Hallie Gould

"L-theanine is a unique amino acid found in tea that can aid in the production of GABA," says Roussell. Though, he admits the amount in tea is small, and it's best to take a supplement in order to get the full effect.

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Hallie Gould

Make sure you talk to your doctor before taking a new supplement and discuss any possible negative effects.

Next up: Training yourself to sleep on your back is easier than you think.