Why GABA is necessary for sleep and how to get enough of it
GABA is the body’s primary inhibitory neurotransmitter, which basically just means that it suppresses certain signals in the central nervous system to help you feel good and balanced, mentally and physically.* We get the calming benefits of GABA when it binds to GABA receptors (mainly GABA-A and GABA-B receptors) in the brain.
Science tells us that GABA-A receptors are highly expressed in thalamus 1, which is the area of the brain involved in sleep. This means that GABA allows your body and mind to relax so you can fall asleep faster, explains mbg board-certified sleep specialist Michael J. Breus, Ph.D.*.
“When your body produces [GABA], your central nervous system slows down, making you feel more relaxed and, in many cases, sleepy. In fact, most modern sleep aids maintain normal levels of GABA in the brain,” says Breus.
Actually one study in the journal sleep2 found that people with sleep problems had nearly 30% lower levels of GABA than those without sleep problems. Additional Study 20183 also showed that participants who took PharmaGABA® (a well-studied branded version of GABA) before bed fell asleep faster and had better sleep quality after just one week of supplementation.*
It’s no wonder that mbg’s vice president of scientific affairs, Ashley Jordan Ferreira, Ph.D., RDN, says that the bioactive compound GABA is like a capsule form for nighttime meditative breathing to help you sleep soundly.*