If Melatonin Doesn't Work On You, L-Theanine Might Be The Answer

Sleep is a vital aspect of human health and absolutely necessary for survival. Regardless, it can get pretty complex. So many factors go into a good night's sleep — what you eat and drink, how you spend your days, even your gender. Yes, women have more sleep problems than men.

According to Sleep Foundation, up to around 20 percent of Americans have some sort of sleeping disorder. There are medications to help with various sleep problems that are usually doctor-prescribed and not so easily available to everyone. If you struggle with a less serious sleep problem, you might have turned to over-the-counter melatonin. The oral supplement is a pretty popular remedy for sleep issues as it helps regulate the body's natural circadian rhythm, as explained by Cleveland Clinic.

Even though melatonin is a hormone the brain produces on its own, taking it in the form of a sleep supplement might not work for everyone. If you're on the lookout for a new sleep remedy to ease your nighttime woes, L-theanine might be the answer.

What is L-theanine?

Melatonin can have certain side effects that make it unsuitable for some people. According to Mayo Clinic, the most common issues that might arise are migraines, lightheadedness, and daytime fatigue. Also, some people report having weird dreams after taking melatonin.

If that's the case for you or you'd simply like to try a more natural remedy, consider taking L-theanine supplements instead. "L-theanine is an amino acid that is found in green tea and has been shown to promote relaxation and improve sleep quality," dietitian Trista Best explains for SheFinds.

That's why drinking tea is so relaxing. Other than tea, L-theanine can also be found in mushrooms. While just drinking tea and eating mushrooms might not help your disrupted sleep cycle all that much, taking L-theanine in the form of a supplement definitely will. The best part is that there's no prescription needed to give it a try, but be sure to consult with your doctor first if you have any other health issues.

How does L-theanine work and what it does to your body?

According to Trista Best, L-theanine works by affecting the level of GABA in your body, which is short for gamma-aminobutyric acid. She explained to SheFinds that the acid is actually "a neurotransmitter that helps calm the brain and promote relaxation."

Neuroscientist Nicole Avena, MD, says L-theanine also works pretty quickly to get you relaxed. "In substantial clinical research, L-theanine has been found to rapidly bring on relaxation, often within minutes. Over a longer period, L-theanine can improve coping with stress, lessen feelings of anxiousness, and support healthy sleep in both adults and children," she shared with BrainMD.

If you're wondering about the possible side effects of taking L-theanine, no need to worry. As per Dr. Axe, L-theanine should be perfectly safe to use if you're a healthy person. Just make sure you're not making it a long-term practice, as it would be best to use it for a shorter period of time — for about three to 16 weeks maximum. Consult with your doctor if you're already on any medications, as L-theanine can cause a reaction when paired with other chemicals. If given the green light, L-theanine may help you finally sleep better.