David S Klein, MD
Useful Sleep Aid- l-Theanine
Treating Insomnia with Theanine
Theanine (l-theanine) is an amino acid found in tea leaves. In addition to providing benefits as an anti-oxidant, theanine is useful in sleep induction, as well.
L-Theanine provides an interesting combination of salutary benefits. It acts as a non-sedating relaxant by enhancing alpha wave production in the brain. It improves mental focus during wakeful hours, yet it enhances sleep quality. The alpha-wave enhancing effect is very useful for students, promoting concentration, yet it does not cause sleep disturbances that result from the use of caffeine and amphetamines. The effective dosage range of L-Theanine ranges between 50 and 200 mg, or more, per day.
While 3 or 4 cups of tea would be expected to contain 100-200mg of l-theanine, this same volume of tea contains a great deal of caffeine. The caffeine itself will improve concentration, but headache can occur as the caffeine wears off, and sleep disorders are common with caffeine ingestion. Decaffeinated tea would be a good choice, but the decaffeinating process destroys the L-theanine.
After ingestion of capsular or tablet forms of l-theanine, blood levels will reach maximum peak blood levels in about 30 mins, and peak in 2-4 hours. For maximal effect, it is best taken in the morning to enhance concentration, and immediately before bed to enhance sleep.
I have my patients use one of our Green Tea Extract Capsules at bed time, combined with a melatonin 3 mg tablet. This is a very gentle approach to sleep induction, and it is a good place to start. If needed, the melatonin can be increased to 9 mg.
In patients with anxiety and/or depression, the addition of 5-HTP can be added. We use a product that is called “Snokker™,” which combines the 5-HTP and l-theanine in an affordable, single tablet. Adding melatonin to the Snokker™ makes it very, very potent as a sleep inducer.
Green Tea Extract Capsules 400 mg #100 per bottle. ($11.95)
Snokker™ 200 mg L-theanine, 200 mg 5-HTP #30 per bottle. ($29.95)
Melatonin 3 mg #90 per bottle. ($16.79)