How high to go on GABA for sleep issues and what are the negative effects of too much tyrosine?
Today I’m sharing a great question I received about sleep issues – how high to go on GABA and what are the negative effects of too much tyrosine – together with my feedback because it’s not always a simple answer.
Here is the question about sleep, GABA and tyrosine:
I find I need more than the 500mg of sublingual Gaba Calm for sleep even with 200mg theanine. What dose can I go up to. Took a while to work up to that dose. I want to get away from sleeping tablets. Also what are the negative effects of too much tyrosine that comes with this product?
GABA Calm contains both GABA (125mg) and tyrosine (25mg) and it’s one of my most recommended products for anxiety. It sometimes works for insomnia and sometimes it doesn’t.
GABA and feeling stiff and tense with insomnia and anxiety
As you may know, with sleep issues caused by low GABA levels you’ll often lie awake with feelings of physical tension and stiff muscles rather than the ruminating thoughts which is the low serotonin type of insomnia – although it’s not uncommon to experience both. You may also have the stiff-and-tense type of anxiety, panic attacks and the need to self-medicate to calm down, often with alcohol but sometimes with carbs and sugary foods. By using the amino acid GABA you can raise your GABA levels and ease many of these symptoms.
Tyrosine can be stimulating and can be calming
Tyrosine is a considered a stimulating amino acid that is the precursor for making catecholamines (one of the neurotransmitters) like dopamine, epinephrine and norepinephrine. Boosting these neurotransmitters provides focus, increased energy and more motivation, and can also alleviate some forms of “curl-up-in-bed” depression.
Conversely tyrosine can also provide a sort of calm focus for some folks.
How much GABA and how much tyrosine?
Keeping all the above in mind, here is my feedback: 500mg of GABA is a large dose when starting out and is typically too high for most people, causing a light-headed feeling and sometimes a niacin-like flush. For this reason, it was good to hear that she worked up to that dose of GABA, found in 4 of the GABA Calm tablets i.e. 125mg of GABA for each one.
When my clients get up to multiple GABA Calm tablets I will often have them switch to a GABA-only product or a GABA/theanine product (opened up onto the tongue and held there for 2 minutes or longer) as the tyrosine can be stimulating. Some folks do fine on a small amount of tyrosine in the evening so 1-2 GABA Calm may be fine but more than that and it can be too much and may need to be avoided.
Taking 4 x GABA Calm tablets also provide a hefty dose of sugar alcohols which could cause diarrhea.
As far as using higher amounts of GABA, I have clients increase as long as they are seeing added benefits. I have had some clients go up to 1000-2000mg but more than this is rare. Theanine can often also be increased up to around 1000mg.
Here are some clues to look out for:
- too tired in the day → too much GABA or too much theanine?
- too tired in the day → too little GABA or too little theanine causing disturbed sleep?
- too tired in the day → not enough tyrosine?
- not able to sleep well → too little GABA or theanine?
- not able to sleep well → too much tyrosine (at night or even mid-afternoon)?
- calm energy → just enough tyrosine
- sleep well → just enough GABA and/or theanine
There is research supporting that a GABA/theanine combination can improve sleep and that a GABA/5-HTP combination can too. There is no research on GABA Calm and insomnia but in practice it works for some people at night and not for others.
I’m sure you can agree with me that it’s not always simple and there can never be one size fits all. This doesn’t work: “Since you have insomnia take 2 GABA Calm and I’ll see you in a month” or even “This 250mg GABA with 100mg theanine will sort out your sleep issues in no time.”
It’s always a matter of figuring out what your own unique needs are.
Looking for other root causes of your insomnia
If my clients are not seeing incremental benefits as they increase the GABA and/or theanine (and stop the tyrosine) they go back down to their lower dose and we start looking for other root causes for their insomnia.
These root causes can range from low serotonin to high cortisol, also gut issues like SIBO, parasites (which are more active at night) or gluten issues. Too much caffeine (even if consumed in the morning and even a single cup of coffee!) and low blood sugar must always be ruled out too. Some sleep medications can actually make sleep worse especially benzodiazepines. And side-effects of all medications need to be looked at and also the possible effects of EMFs/WiFi.
Have you found that using the trial method with GABA and/or theanine has enabled you to find the ideal amount to take for your insomnia or anxiety? Where did you start and how high did you need to go and how much did this approach help?
Did the removal of tyrosine make a difference or make you more tired in the day?
Were there other factors at play as root causes of your insomnia or anxiety?
As a practitioner, do you want to learn more about how to incorporate GABA and theanine and the other targeted individual amino acids, tryptophan/5-HTP, DPA, glutamine and tyrosine, into your work to help your clients/patients with sleep issues and anxiety? I invite you to check out my online practitioner training here: Balancing Neurotransmitters – The Fundamentals.