Drugs Q & A

How Much Theanine Can You Take For Sleep?

The collective term sleep disorder refers to conditions that affect sleep quality, timing, or duration and impact a person’s ability to properly function while they are awake. These disorders can contribute to other medical problems, and some may also be symptoms of underlying mental health issues.

Data indicate that more than one-third of adults in the United States report getting fewer than 7 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period. More than 70 percent of high school students report getting fewer than 8 hours of sleep on weeknights.

Most people occasionally experience sleeping problems due to stress, hectic schedules, and other outside influences. However, when these issues begin to occur on a regular basis and interfere with daily life, they may indicate a sleeping disorder.

Depending on the type of sleep disorder, people may have a difficult time falling asleep and may feel extremely tired throughout the day. The lack of sleep can have a negative impact on energy, mood, concentration, and overall health.

What is Theanine?

Theanine, also known as L-γ-glutamylethylamide and N5-ethyl-L-glutamine, is an amino acid analogue of the proteinogenic amino acids L-glutamate and L-glutamine and is found primarily in particular plant and fungal species. It was discovered as a constituent of green tea in 1949; in 1950, it was isolated from gyokuro leaves. Theanine provides a unique brothy or savory (umami) flavor to green tea infusions.

The name “theanine” without a prefix generally implies the enantiomer L-theanine, which is the form found in tea leaves and as a dietary supplement ingredient. L-theanine may help people sleep more easily. Several studies have suggested that L-theanine could help people relax before bedtime, get to sleep more easily, and sleep more deeply. These benefits may result from the specific effects that the amino acid has on brain chemicals that play a role in sleep.

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers theanine to be generally recognized as safe (GRAS) and allows its sale as a dietary supplement. However, the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, an agency of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, objects to the addition of L-theanine to beverages.

How much theanine can you take for sleep?

According to the studies, doses of 250 mg and 400 mg of L-theanine greatly improved sleep quality and other sleeping benchmarks. Also, 200 mg of L-theanine was shown to help reduce resting heart rate, pointing to its ability to promote relaxation.

Doses of up to 900 mg daily have been safely used for 8 weeks. It isn’t clear if L-theanine is safe to use for longer periods of time. It might cause mild side effects, such as headaches or sleepiness.

What are the other side effects of theanine?

Generally speaking, it’s safe to drink teas and take supplements that contain L-theanine. But it’s important to note that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t regulate supplements. Manufacturers of those products bear the weight of the responsibility to make sure their products are safe.

However, though some research shows promising results for L-theanine’s anti-tumor properties, teas that contain amino acids can have other ingredients that could be harmful to people being treated for cancer.

According to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the polyphenol EGCG found in green tea can reduce some chemotherapy drugs’ efficacy, such as bortezomib. For that reason, it’s crucial for those taking chemotherapy drugs to talk with their healthcare provider before drinking green tea as part of their treatment plan.

While there haven’t been reported side effects from taking L-theanine, because of the caffeine content, consuming large amounts of green tea can lead to:

  • nausea
  • upset stomach
  • irritability

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should also limit how much tea they drink to avoid over-caffeinating.

It’s best to ask your healthcare provider about what’s safe for you. The same advice applies to children as well.

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