Supporting your emotional health and mental wellness is an important part of prioritizing rest, which is why incorporating ingredients that assist against the impacts of stress (as well as helping to promote restful sleep) is an important step in your self-care supplement routine.
Getting adequate nightly sleep is one of the cornerstones of good health. However, for people with a busy schedule and a lot on their minds, getting to bed on time and getting a sufficient amount of quality sleep can be more challenging than it seems - especially during a pandemic!
Getting enough sleep is majorly important for keeping your body’s processes functioning properly and helping you stay mentally and emotionally balanced - and with the ambient stress of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are reporting disruptions to their mental health and their sleep cycles, nicknamed “coronasomnia”. There’s plenty of evidence that feelings of anxiety can disrupt your rest - finding ways to bolster your emotional and mental wellness is a key aspect of strategizing for sleep.
What is L-theanine?
L-theanine is an amino acid found in green and black tea as well as some mushrooms. Some theorize that the effect of L-theanine is an integral part of green tea’s long-revered energizing and calming reputation. The Zen monk Eisai, who brought green tea seeds from China to Japan in 1191, wrote a book effusively praising green tea’s effect on the body and mind - the first sentence is: "[T]ea is the ultimate mental and medical remedy and has the ability to make one's life more full and complete." You might even attribute the current popularity of matcha, a powdered green tea that can be added to food or prepared as a beverage, as being partly thanks to its rich level of L-theanine.
This green tea superfood is currently in vogue as a culinary trend and in the biohacking realm, where people who are interested in improving physical and cognitive performance detail their experiences with changes to their routines, fitness programs, and using different vitamins and nootropic and adaptogenic substances. Matcha combines high levels of powerful antioxidants, L-theanine, and a relatively mild amount of caffeine; despite its caffeine content, studies show that its consumption may induce a calming, de-stressing effect attributable to L-theanine.
What does L-theanine actually do?
Amongst its notable benefits, it helps facilitate the release of GABA, serotonin, and dopamine, neurotransmitters that support emotional regulation and protect against the effects of stressors. These neurotransmitters also play a role ins stimulating alpha brain waves, which are linked to alert yet relaxed mental states like that of being in a state of creative flow, as well as the deep REM sleep state. L-theanine may help support cognition and memory, as well as reducing the negative effects of feelings of stress.
L-theanine can help get you to that satisfying feeling of being absorbed in an enjoyable personal project like painting or knitting, or avidly concentrating on an interesting presentation. When consumed together as part of a cup of green tea or matcha, L-theanine and a gentle amount of caffeine are optimized for productivity and calm focus, as L-theanine can help mitigate the more frenetic stimulatory effects of caffeine whilst bolstering the capacity for concentration. L-theanine has also been linked to potential cardiovascular benefits and lowering atypically elevated blood pressure, which makes sense given that it is such a potent ally for de-stressing!
However, despite its reputation for powerful biohacking potential and increasing focus, L-theanine’s effects are versatile; it can also be taken in combination with other options such as melatonin - which helps regulate your body’s sleep/wake cycle - as well as GABA or calmative herbs to synergistically support relaxation, reduce feelings of mental stress, and improve sleep quality.
L-theanine is an integral part of a holistic sleep-improvement plan due to its role in helping you remain resilient and calm when facing feelings of anxiety or stress. Quality sleep is intrinsically linked with mental wellbeing, and the reverse can also apply: an agitated emotional state may negatively impact your ability to sleep and your sleep quality, especially if you’re mentally spiraling as you lie awake at night.
Integrated as a part of your sleep hygiene ritual
Alongside healthy lifestyle choices like eating nutritiously, getting regular physical activity, and creating a relaxing sleep space, one of the best ways to naturally support your sleep - especially if you’re struggling with nighttime worries - is by choosing a sleep supplement formulated both for aiding restful sleep as well as relaxing the nervous system, to help you feel calm and grounded.
L-theanine, especially when combined with other sleep-supportive ingredients, can be very effective at helping you unwind in the evening, letting your brain “turn off” for the night and resist those aggravating, intrusive thoughts of worry or stress. The ideal option when it comes to supplementing for sleep is a natural formulation with multiple ingredients (including L-theanine) chosen for their ability to support your overall health as well as a restful, deep, good night’s sleep.