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My Experience with GABA as a Sleep Aid

Me and my sleep have been through some rough times in the past few years.

My troubled sleep has ranged in severity, from months of insomnia so bad that I would go for days without sleeping at all – to waking after just three or four hours and being unable to fall back asleep.

For me, sleep problems developed simultaneously with gastrointestinal problems (for which I later was diagnosed with SIBO.)

Improvements to my diet (but probably not the type you are imagining) have helped my sleep enormously.

In the meantime, I tried a huge range of natural remedies and – probably because of my food chemical intolerances – I had essentially no success with those.

GABA is one of the remedies I tried – and unlike the many herbal extracts, elixirs, and so on I tried, GABA actually works for me.

I’m going to tell you about my experiences with this supplement, but please keep in mind that I’m a patient, not a medical professional.

What is GABA?

I’m no expert on this subject but my understanding is that GABA, which stands for “gamma-Aminobutyric acid,” is a neurotransmitter that helps to calm down excited neurons. (And from my experience with it, I would say that’s exactly what it feels like it does!)

It can be taken as a supplement without a prescription, and there are both synthetic GABA supplements, as well as natural ones.

Interestingly, GABA is produced by at least one type of bacteria, Lactobacillus hilgardii.

GABA and Short Chain Fatty Acids

But there’s another connection between GABA and bacteria, and that’s short chain fatty acids (SCFAs). Short chain fatty acids are produced by gut microbes and are thought to be essential for good gut health.

In at least one study, GABA was seen to increase the amount of short chain fatty acids in mice colons.

Having done stool testing prior to trying GABA, I learned that my short chain fatty acids were particularly low. I point this out because if you have the same result on your stool test, GABA might be something you’ll want to try (if of course your health practitioner thinks it’s a good idea.)

At this writing, I’m awaiting the results of my latest stool test and am curious to see if there’s been any change to my levels of SCFAs after consistently taking this product for several months.

I have to wonder if for me, this supplement is not only helping my brain, but also my gut. Or perhaps it’s helping my sleep because it’s helping my gut? Could be!

GABA, My Trusty Sleep Aid

I was taking 5HTP, another sleep remedy, when I first tried GABA, so I couldn’t really tell which was more effective. I finally had to remove 5HTP from my bedtime routine because of salicylate sensitivity. I found that GABA on its own still helped my sleep dramatically.

Specifically, GABA helps me fall back to sleep if I wake up too early.

It also makes me feel extremely relaxed first thing in the morning, and honestly, a bit lazy.

I used to be ready to jump out of bed when I woke up because my mind would be racing with thoughts and plans. Now my night owl husband is often out of bed before I am.

After going through a few years of restless mornings with insufficient sleep,  I really relish this somewhat lazy feeling in the morning. And I wake up feeling much more rested than I used to.

And once I get up, I don’t feel groggy or drowsy, I feel great. I’ve been tracking my energy level in my wellness journal, and my morning energy is usually four out of five – which is where I want it to be, energetic, but not hyper.

However, this sleep remedy isn’t 100% failproof. If I eat a meal too high in salicylates, my sleep is still somewhat troubled. But overall, it’s much better with GABA than without GABA, even on bad days.

Does it Work for Everyone?

Maybe not. There is some research showing that GABA seems to work better in those that have a permeable blood brain barrier – a phenomenon similar to leaky gut, only it’s your brain, not your gut.

Newer research shows this isn’t necessarily the case.

So, verdict’s out on that one.

But for those who try GABA and do not experience its relaxing effects, perhaps the reason is that you don’t have a leaky brain. (Probably a good thing!)

When I first tried this supplement, I was taking it in the middle of the day and was getting extremely sleepy! I finally realized it was the supplement kicking in and moved it to my bedtime supplement routine where it could do its job without messing up my day.

A Cellulose Free GABA Brand

I had to stop taking GABA when I figured out that there was salicylate in the so-called “veggie” caps that most of my supplements came in – at least enough to trigger my typical salicylate sensitivity reactions.

As I waited for my cellulose-free supplements to be delivered, I got an opportunity to retest life without this sleep aid. Those few weeks of worse sleep confirmed for me what I had already guessed – GABA was helping me both stay asleep and fall back asleep when I awoke too early.

The brand I take is from Source Naturals and is called GABA Calm Mind.

It contains no cellulose, but does contain stearic acid and magnesium stearate, which might not work for everyone. While cellulose causes me to get itchy all over, those other ingredients don’t.

I get my supply from Pure Formulas, (affiliate link – thanks!) one of my regular choices for purchasing supplements online.

Just Call Me Lady GABA

Yes, I’m feeling quite enthusiastic about this supplement, and I’m singing its praises from my rooftop – or at least from my kitchen table.

It’s rare for me to try a supplement and get clear, obvious improvements in my symptoms. But with GABA I have no doubts.

It helps give me a relaxed, easy-going wake up to start my day, and that makes all the difference.

If you feel that you got any value from this post, leave me a comment below, click like, or share this article with someone who might need it. Thanks! I really appreciate it!

More Articles and Resources about Supplements

This article does not intend to diagnose any health conditions or offer treatment advice. Please consult with your health practitioner before trying any supplements or making any dietary changes.

If you feel that you got any value from this post, leave me a comment below, click like, and share this article with someone who might need it too. Thanks! I really appreciate it!

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