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What is GABA?
Gamma-Aminobutyric acid (aka GABA) is an amino acid produced naturally in the brain. It acts as an inhibitory neurotransmitter that blocks certain brain signals and decreases activity in your nervous system. Serotonin is another inhibitory neurotransmitter that helps stabilize mood.
Glutamate works in reverse as an excitatory neurotransmitter that stimulates nerve cells. Low GABA equals high glutamate, and vice versa.
Does GABA help you sleep?
Ingredients included in sleep supplements work in one of two ways. Either they directly impact sleep quality/quantity (physical support) or they indirectly support sleep by reducing everyday stress and promoting a sense of calm and relaxation (emotional + behavioral support). GABA falls into that second group.
It works by binding to the GABA-A receptor, causing a hyperpolarization of the neuron. Chloride, which is negatively charged, moves into the neuron, which renders it less responsive to stimulation. In essence, when levels of GABA increase, it suppresses or inhibits the central nervous system (CNS) to reduce excitability and, when bound, produces a calming effect that may support a reduction in stress, anxiety, and sleeplessness.
Who GABA is best for
Those looking for emotional and behavioral support would benefit from GABA, as it reduces excitability and promotes relaxation and calmness.
Recommended dose of melatonin
A clinically beneficial dosage of GABA is 100 mg, which is the amount included in Proper’s supplements.
Side effects of GABA
Oral GABA supplements are very well tolerated by healthy adults. In rare circumstances, some may experience side effects such as nausea, gastric distress, diminished appetite, or muscle weakness.
READ MORE: The Proper Guide To GABA For Better Sleep
What is melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain, then released into the bloodstream. Quantities naturally increase as the sun goes down and decrease during daytime hours and exposure to bright light, thus regulating the sleep-wake cycle (aka circadian rhythm).
When it’s produced within our bodies, it goes by the name endogenous melatonin; however, some also choose to supplement their natural levels as a way to effectively adjust and regulate their body's internal clock.
Does melatonin help you sleep?
As is the case with all natural sleep supplements, there’s not a one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Your sleep and overall health must be evaluated holistically to help you understand and solve the issue(s) at hand.
That said, there is research supporting the efficacy of melatonin. One meta-analysis, (1) which compared melatonin against placebo in improving sleep parameters for patients with primary sleep disorders, showed that the supplement reduced sleep latency (the amount of time it takes to fall asleep) by 7.06 minutes and increased total sleep time by 8.25 minutes. Also promising was the fact that trials with a longer duration and higher doses of melatonin demonstrated greater effects on decreasing sleep latency and increasing total sleep time.
Who melatonin is best for
Melatonin is best for those suffering from circadian rhythm sleep disorders such as:
- Jet lag
Officially known as "Rapid Time Zone Change Syndrome," jet lag messes with your sleep times and wake times as you cross into new time zones, especially when traveling east.
- Shift Work Disorder
Shift workers with inconsistent schedules have been found to get upwards of four fewer hours of sleep than the average person due to disrupted melatonin production. (2)
- Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder (DSPS)
Night owls who fall asleep late but have a hard time getting up in the morning (common with teens and young adults).
- Advanced Sleep Phase Disorder
Early birds whose body clock causes them to fall asleep and wake up on the early side (common with older adults).
- Irregular Sleep-Wake Rhythm Disorder
When someone's sleep patterns are flipped upside down due to one-too-many naps over a 24-hour period.
READ MORE: Guide To Circadian Rhythms
Recommended dose of melatonin
Melatonin is commonly consumed between 1 (low dose) and 5mg by healthy adults. (3)
Side effects of melatonin
A small percentage of melatonin users have been found to experience daytime drowsiness, sleepiness, headaches, and dizziness; however, there is no evidence of a risk for serious, clinically significant adverse events (AEs). As a precautionary measure, it’s recommended that users not drive or use machinery for four to five hours after taking melatonin.
If you decide to take a dietary supplement to increase your GABA levels or melatonin levels for more restful sleep, it's important to do your research to ensure it contains what it says it does and is not contaminated with heavy metals or pesticides. Here's what to look for:
- Third-party tested for purity and verified free of heavy metals, microbes, and pesticides
- U.S. manufactured and produced in a Food & Drug Administration (FDA)-approved, "Good Manufacturing Practices"-compliant facility
- If the supplement has other ingredients or botanicals, ensure they are standardized to guarantee consistent purity, potency, and efficacy
- Free of artificial colors or binders
- Non-GMO and, if it’s important to you, vegan, gluten/dairy/sugar-free
Note: If you are taking prescription medications, pregnant, or breastfeeding, please seek medical advice from your healthcare provider prior to taking any dietary supplements/sleep medicines. Additional caution should be exercised for those suffering from sleep disorders who are also on antidepressants, high blood pressure medication, or other neurally-active medications for health conditions.
Depending on your unique sleep needs and wellness goals, you can opt for a sleep supplement that contains both GABA and melatonin, as Sleep + Restore does.
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