Best GABA Supplements for Sleep
Sleep is so incredibly important to one’s overall health, yet it certainly can be elusive. If you suffer from insomnia, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Whether you have trouble falling asleep or you struggle to stay asleep, it’s a significant problem for a lot of people that deserves special attention. “Sleep is essential for a person’s health and wellbeing, according to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF). Yet millions of people do not get enough sleep and many suffer from lack of sleep.”  There are numerous sleep aids on the market but, perhaps, the most effective, though not yet widely known, is gamma-Aminobutyric acid, or GABA.
In chemical terms, gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) is an amino acid produced naturally in the brain. However, in the human body it functions unlike any of the traditional alpha aminos. Rather, GABA is found exclusively in the brain where it acts as a chief inhibitory neurotransmitter. As such, GABA plays a central role in numerous aspects of healthy cognitive function, perhaps more so than any other chemical compound in the body.
Sufficient GABA is essential to healthy cognitive function. GABA deficiency can manifest in numerous different ways. Symptoms of low GABA include trouble relaxing, becoming easily agitated, racing thoughts that keep you up at night, sensitivity to bright lights or loud noises, anxiety, stiff or tight muscles, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, cold hands or feet, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, and feeling overwhelmed. If you are suffering from any of these symptoms a GABA deficiency may be the root cause of one or more of these issues.
What Are GABA Supplements?
“GABA functions as a neurotransmitter, facilitating communication among brain cells. GABA’s big role in the body is to reduce the activity of neurons in the brain and central nervous system, which in turn has a broad range of effects on the body and mind, including increased relaxation, reduced stress, a more calm, balanced mood, alleviation of pain, and a boost to sleep.”  GABA supplements can quite literally help ease your racing mind that may be keeping you up at night.
Natural GABA matches the molecular structure of that which is found in the human brain. Natural GABA can be obtained from fermentation and, therefore, it can be found in fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, and miso. It can also be isolated during fermentation. Such is the process by which PharmaGABA, a patented natural GABA ingredient, is manufactured.
While GABA does much within the brain to help with focus, retention, stress management, and even healthy sleep, there is debate over whether GABA supplements are able to bypass the blood-brain barrier in order to be truly effective.
There are countless testimonials all over the internet of people claiming that GABA supplements helps them to relax, negate feelings of anxiety, focus on studies, and get to sleep easier. While this is consistent with its roles as a neurotransmitter, scientific studies have yet to reveal whether or not even the highest quality of natural GABA extracts are capable of passing through the blood-brain barrier and providing this support in every case.
However, there are quality GABA supplements on the market that pair GABA with other ingredients which may aid and accentuate the calming properties of this unique amino. The most prominent of these ingredients are discussed below.
Before taking any supplement, it is important to pay attention to the ingredients. Some important components to keep an eye out for include phenyl-GABA, L-Theanine, L-Tyrosine, and L-Glycine. Depending on what may be disrupting your sleep or other issues you may be battling, these added components can help you choose the best GABA supplement for your unique situation.
Phenyl-GABA is a more potent form of GABA. Only Phenyl-GABA is capable of passing the blood brain barrier in significant amounts. Phenyl-GABA is also called a nootropic or “smart nutrient” for its ability to improve neurological functions. It was discovered in Russia in the 1960’s and has since been used to treat a wide range of ailments including anxiety, PTSD, social phobia, and insomnia.  It can also be effective for emotional or “binge” eating. It is safe and well tolerated having been extensively researched since the 1960’s in a variety of studies.
Theanine can elevate mood and enhance focus and concentration. An amino acid commonly found in tea, theanine can also cross the blood-brain barrier. Theanine has unique psychoactive properties because it can affect numerous biochemical pathways. Theanine has been shown to reduce mental and physical stress, and can produce feelings of relaxation. It may also improve cognition and mood.
Theanine is speculated to produce these effects by increasing the level of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) production. Theanine also increases brain serotonin, dopamine, and has affinities for AMPA, Kainate, and NMDA receptors. Theanine also promotes alpha wave production in the brain, which helps people feel relaxed and positive.
Tyrosine helps increase the ‘feel good’ neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin. The effect on mood is more noticeable in humans subjected to stressful conditions. A number of studies have found tyrosine to be useful during conditions of stress, cold, fatigue, prolonged work, and sleep deprivation. Tyrosine has also been shown to aid in cognitive and physical performance, which has been seen in human trials.
Glycine helps to normalize electrical signals across neurons. As such, it can enhance and optimize brain function. It is a conditionally essential amino acid found abundantly in the body, particularly throughout the excitable tissues of the central nervous system, where it is thought to have a regulating influence. However, glycine is deficient in many diets and may not be sufficiently produced by the body in certain disease states. Glycine has many functions in the body including antioxidant properties, immunostimulant, detoxifying, and stabilizing neurological function.
Best GABA Supplements
Life Vitality Ultra Bliss is an excellent GABA supplement option. It contains Phenyl-GABA, which is the most potent form of GABA given its unique ability to cross the blood brain barrier. Ultra Bliss also contains Theanine and Tyrosine. Ultra Bliss is designed to help your body and mind cope with stress naturally and allow you to get quality sleep. Ultra Bliss works fairly quickly, providing relief in as little as 10-20 minutes.
Quicksilver Scientific LipoCalm is the ultimate sleep aid. Not only does it contain PharmaGABA, it is also equipped with herbal ingredients skullcap, passionflower, and chamomile, creating a blend that is unlike any other sleep aid on the market. Quicksilver’s unique delivery system utilizes liposomal emulsification to greatly enhance nutrient bioavailability, which is always an important aspect of any supplement.
Pure Life Gaba-Max has a number of ingredients that have been used for centuries to uplift mood and one’s overall outlook on life. Pertinent ingredients include phenyl-GABA, theanine, and glycine.
Ortho Molecular always creates quality supplements and their version of GABA is no different. Cerenity contains many effective and beneficial ingredients including theanine, taurine, and 5-HTP. Cerenity is formulated to be free of allergens including gluten, artificial colors, and artificial flavors.
Thorne Research PharmaGABA offers numerous unique benefits for sleep. It is harvested from natural fermentation processes like those used to make sauerkraut and kimchi. It may provide nootropic support for various aspects of brain health and cognitive function. Many people report feelings of relaxation and easier sleep after GABA consumption.