If you’ve ever felt compelled to do something about your restless nights, there’s a good chance you’ve supplemented (or at least considered) melatonin. Or, if you prefer a more holistic way to improve your sleep, you can have melatonin-containing foods in your kitchen. But what if I told you there’s another nutrient you might want to prioritize in your diet that has the potential to calm your mind, help you relax, and improve sleep quality?
GABA (gamma amino butyric acid) comes into play. Read on to see what exactly GABA is, how it influences sleep, and the top food sources that contain it.
What is GABA?
Also, an amino acid, Uma Naidoo, MD, Harvard-trained nutritional psychiatrist, professional chef, nutritional biologist, and author of the publication, begins with “GABA is one of the neurotransmitters in our brain that governs mood, cognition, and activity.” national and international. an international bestseller, This is your brain on food. As a reminder, neurotransmitters are chemicals that facilitate communication between brain cells. Some neurotransmitters increase brain activity, such as dopamine, which is associated with arousal and can even be activated just by thinking of a tasty meal, while others like GABA slow down activity in the brain.
The link between the amino acid GABA, stress, and sleep
“GABA is what’s known as an inhibitory neurotransmitter, meaning it prevents neurons from firing in a basic biochemical sense,” says Dr. Naidoo. Since it reduces neuronal excitability, “the brain “quits down,” so to speak, so that our moods relax and we can wind down to sleep.”
Low-GABA-levels have been linked to GAD and depression. Primary insomnia sufferers are more likely to wake up quickly after falling asleep, and their brain GABA-levels are 30% lower than non-sufferers.
Since sufficient GABA levels promote relaxation, it stands to reason that when they are low, our brains maintain cruise control rather of letting the brakes slow us down and give us time to rest and refuel. The end consequence is less restful sleep and more tension, ruminating, and buzzing in the brain. Some individuals use GABA tablets to correct this imbalance by lowering anxiety and enhancing sleep. While further studies are required to support supplementation on all fronts, certain clinical trials demonstrate that GABA supplementation may decrease sleep latency, promote calm, and reduce anxiety (i.e., the time it takes to fall asleep). (I slept off after getting into bed).
However, it won’t hurt to upgrade your diet to healthy foods that happen to contain GABA. Better yet, they offer a host of additional nutrients that can promote benefits for the brain, mood, and more.
The best GABA foods that can improve sleep, according to a nutritional psychiatrist
Dr. Naidoo suggests putting the following GABA-rich foods at the top of your food list if you want to feel better and sleep better.
- Cruciferous vegetables (think broccoli, cauliflower, etc.)
- Sweet potatoes
- Integral rice
- White tea
She says that in addition to being high in GABA, these vibrant plant-based meals are also high in folic acid and fiber. Because of this, these parts also help the body make healthy neurotransmitters and feed the intestines, which helps keep the mind in balance. The fact that these meals come in a range of hues also indicates that they contain “antioxidants that combat inflammation and are also helpful for brain function,” according to the author.
In the end, Dr. Naidoo says that a diet that is always balanced and full of different nutrients can also help our daily sleep and wake cycles. In other words, it’s important to think about improving your sleep — through foods, supplements, and other sleep-specific contributing factors — as the clock ticks down to bedtime. Having healthy habits about what you eat and drink at night can also improve the quality of your sleep. (FTR: Alcohol increases GABA in the brain, which is why it calms and relaxes you. However, experts say that late-night drinks are not yet a good way to get to sleep because they are more likely to make your dreams worse than improve them). ZZZ.)