GABA and melatonin are both effective natural sleep aids alone, but you can also take them together. In fact, taking them together may help to enhance the effects of both, as they are involved in similar sleep-inducing mechanisms.
In this article, we’ll tell you more about both melatonin and GABA, and how exactly they work together. We’ll also break down our melatonin supplement that has both melatonin and GABA (among other key ingredients) to help you fall asleep: MELO Sip.
At a glance:
GABA and Melatonin: Natural Sleep Aids That Work Together
To understand how GABA and melatonin work together, it helps first to understand how they work apart. In this section, we’ll explain more about how each sleep aid works, and then we’ll explain what happens when you take them together.
Gamma aminobutyric acid, or GABA, is an amino acid produced naturally by your body. It is the main relaxing neurotransmitter of the central nervous system (aka it’s an “inhibitory neurotransmitter”) This term describes a neurotransmitter whose job is to counteract the more stimulating neurotransmitters, like adrenaline, blocking the physiological effects of stress so as to help your body relax.
As it has a direct effect on physical stress, it can be an effective insomnia treatment for those whose sleep problems are related to stress or anxiety. A study from Neuropharmacology says GABA is anxiolytic, meaning it lowers anxiety, and another study from Frontiers in Psychology suggests GABA supplements can have a calming effect.
Melatonin is a hormone that is also produced naturally by your body, specifically in the brain’s pineal gland. It gets released in the evening when the sun goes down (or when your brain perceives darkness), and its job is to help prepare your body for sleep. In this way, it regulates your body’s sleep patterns.
A review from the International Journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology says considerable evidence suggests melatonin can be an effective sleep aid. It’s particularly effective for treating jet lag and other sleep problems associated with an irregular sleep schedule, but it’s also useful for treating occasional insomnia.
How GABA and Melatonin Interact
Both GABA and melatonin help regulate sleep and directly impact sleep quality. A study from Neural Regeneration Research found lower levels of both GABA and melatonin in stroke patients with insomnia (compared to stroke patients without insomnia). But what is the relationship between the two?
Evidence suggests melatonin actually triggers GABA production. This makes sense: Melatonin is a hormone meant to signal to the body that it’s time to sleep, and one of the ways in which it does this is by releasing the body’s main inhibitory neurotransmitter. This blocks adrenaline and other stress-enhancing hormones, putting you into a state of relaxation.
As explained by a study from the Journal of Pharmacological Sciences, higher melatonin levels are correlated with higher levels of GABA. A more recent study from the American Journal of Translational Research suggests melatonin can increase GABA levels in some areas of the brain. In this sense, melatonin may have an indirect effect on anxiety.
This interaction suggests that it can actually be beneficial to take the two supplements together. One of melatonin’s jobs is to release GABA, but taking GABA alongside melatonin can help it perform better. This is especially true if you’re dealing with a lot of stress or anxiety because GABA has a more direct effect on your anxiety levels than melatonin.
Essentially, taking GABA with melatonin will help the melatonin do its job more effectively. You’ll get the sleep-enhancing benefits of melatonin alongside the anxiety-reducing benefits of GABA, giving you a more restful night of sleep than you’d get from taking either supplement alone.
MELO Sip: GABA and Melatonin in One Tasty Package
Melatonin and GABA can be especially beneficial when you combine them. In fact, you can take them alongside other natural sleep aids for even better sleep. That’s exactly what we had in mind at MELO Labs when we created MELO Sip, a tasty sleep supplement with melatonin, GABA, chamomile, valerian root, l-theanine, and more.
In this section, we’ll tell you a little more about these sleep-enhancing ingredients, and why it’s better to take GABA and melatonin in a liquid supplement like MELO Sip over pills or gummies.
More Relaxing Ingredients
Besides melatonin and GABA (which we’ve discussed above), MELO Sip also has chamomile extract, valerian root extract, and l-theanine. Each of these ingredients has powerful calming and anti-anxiety effects.
According to a review from Pharmacognosy Reviews, chamomile can help to induce deep sleep. Another review from Molecular Medicine Reports claims chamomile can treat not just insomnia, but muscle spasms, GI disorders, inflammation, and more. It is known to have a very calming effect.
Similarly, a systematic review and meta-analysis from the Journal of Evidence-based Integrative Medicine suggests valerian root is a “safe and effective herb to promote sleep” for those with sleep disorders or who just have occasional insomnia. The authors also suggest the benefits can be enhanced when it’s taken alongside other herbal supplements.
Finally, l-theanine – an amino acid found in black and green tea – is known to counter the effects of anxiety. A study from Biological Psychology consisting of multiple controlled experiments found l-theanine consumption could lower heart rate as well as reduce other physiological biomarkers of stress, giving it an overall relaxing effect.
Beneficial Nutrients for Rejuvenating Rest
In addition to powerful sleep-enhancing ingredients, MELO Sip also contains vitamins B, C, and D as well as potassium and zinc. A study from the International Journal of Molecular Sciences suggests zinc plays a crucial role in sleep, and that higher levels of zinc are associated with better sleep.
Additionally, a clinical trial from the journal Sleep found potassium could improve sleep efficiency. This refers to the ratio of the total amount of time you spend lying in bed to the total amount of time you actually spend sleeping on a given night. This suggests potassium is involved in both helping you fall asleep and stay asleep.
Another study from Current Pharmaceutical Design says vitamin D plays a crucial role in regulating sleep and explains that vitamin D deficiencies are associated with insomnia. Similarly, vitamins B and C are known to play a role in sleep as well.
Lastly, it’s also worth noting what isn’t included in MELO Sip. The supplement comes in a variety of tasty flavors, but we do not add any sugar, sugar alcohols, nor any artificial sweeteners. MELO Sip is sweetened with nothing but monk fruit extract.
More Fast-acting and Bioavailable Than Pills or Gummies
Most melatonin supplements are pills, but gummy supplements have been growing in popularity. Unfortunately, they are two of the slowest and least effective supplements you can take. According to Medicare Europe, pills can take half an hour to be broken down by your stomach before they actually get used. The same is true of gummies, which also need to be digested.
Besides taking a long time to be fully absorbed, pills also have low bioavailability. Medicare Europe suggests the bioavailability of pills can be anywhere from 39-53%. For melatonin pills specifically, it may be even worse: A study from the Journal of Clinical Pharmacology found melatonin pills had an average of just 15% bioavailability.
To put this in perspective, that means you may only absorb 1.5 mg of melatonin from a 10 mg melatonin pill. Thankfully, liquids have much better bioavailability. Medicare Europe suggests liquid supplements have 98% bioavailability on average, and they can be absorbed in as little as 1-4 minutes.
With this in mind, MELO Sip is clearly a better choice than any pill or gummy. Simply add a packet to a cup of water (however much you want), stir, and drink. Plus, it tastes much better than most other liquid supplements, which usually come in the form of bitter tinctures.
How to Enhance Melatonin and GABA Levels Naturally
In addition to taking melatonin and GABA supplements such as MELO Sip, there are other ways you can increase both compounds and improve poor sleep. These suggestions are all part of good sleep hygiene, i.e. a set of sleep-promoting habits. Practicing good sleep hygiene will have the added benefit of helping your melatonin and GABA supplements work more effectively.
How to Enhance the Effects of Melatonin
Melatonin production is largely regulated by the perception of light, so it helps tremendously to be smart about your light exposure throughout the day, but there are a few other things you can do as well.
Get Morning Light
Get some sunlight in the morning. When this isn’t possible, you can substitute with any sufficiently bright light. Sunlight and bright light suppress melatonin production, letting your body know it’s day time. This helps to reset your circadian rhythm (body clock).
Avoid Bright Light at Night
Bright light, especially blue light, blocks melatonin production. For this reason, it’s a good idea to avoid this kind of light in the last hour or two before sleep. Electronic devices emit blue light, but many have a night setting that blocks blue light. You can also try blue light blocking glasses, or simply avoid using electronic devices at night.
Stick to a Consistent Schedule
While light exposure affects melatonin production, it is also regulated in part by your most recent sleep wake cycles. If you go to bed at different times each day, your body may be a bit confused about what time zone you’re in. On the other hand, if you go to bed at the same time each day, your body knows exactly when to release melatonin.
Of course, this isn’t always possible. If you’re traveling, or doing shift work, or experiencing daylight savings, or otherwise dealing with an inconsistent schedule, this may be particularly challenging. In these situations, supplemental melatonin is a very effective sleep aid.
Get Exercise Early in the Day
Among the many benefits of exercise, it can help you sleep better at night. According to a study from the British Journal of Sports Medicine, exercise can increase adenosine levels. Adenosine plays a key role in increasing sleep pressure, or the body’s drive to sleep, and exercising early in the day can help set the stage for increased melatonin production later in the day.
How to Enhance the Effects of GABA
Certain foods can help increase GABA levels, but as with melatonin, it also helps to practice good sleep hygiene.
Eat GABA-enhancing Foods
A review from the journal Nutrients found a wide variety of foods could increase GABA levels. These foods include buckwheat, rice, sprouted grains, soy beans, adzuki beans, peas, chestnuts, sweet potatoes, spinach, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and more.
Yoga has been shown to be a very beneficial form of dynamic stretching. A randomized controlled trial found yoga to be more effective for reducing anxiety and raising GABA levels than walking. Of course, this isn’t to suggest walking doesn’t have its own health benefits, and doing both may be even more beneficial than doing just one or the other.
Practice Meditation or Mindfulness Exercises
Meditation practices can have a direct effect on anxiety, and one of the mechanisms through which this occurs is the production of GABA. A clinical trial from the journal Brain Stimulation measured GABA levels before and after a 60-minute meditation session in 70 individuals and found GABA levels significantly increased after the meditation session.
Avoid Alcohol and Drugs
Some evidence suggests alcohol consumption and drug use can interfere with GABA production. A review from the Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience says alcohol may lower GABA levels in the body. (In fact, the same is true with melatonin: Alcohol can lower melatonin levels in the body.)
Try MELO Labs Products for All Your Melatonin Needs
As we’ve seen, melatonin and GABA both help to regulate the body’s sleep patterns. Melatonin gets released in the evening to prepare your body for sleep, and it does so in part by triggering GABA, which helps lower stress and anxiety by calming down the central nervous system.
Melatonin and GABA are both effective sleep aids, but taken together, they can enhance each other’s effects. Melatonin helps transition your body to sleep while GABA gets your body out of fight-or-flight mode and into rest-and-digest mode. The combination of the two makes for a more powerful sleep aid.
Both compounds and more can be found in MELO Sip, the powdered drink melatonin supplement from MELO Labs. In addition to GABA and melatonin, Melo Sip also contains valerian root, chamomile, and l-theanine, all of which have powerful relaxing and sleep-enhancing effects. It also has vitamins B, C, and D as well as zinc and potassium.
But if you’re looking for an even faster-acting melatonin supplement, we’ve got you covered: MELO Labs also makes MELO Air, a safe and effective melatonin vaporizer. It only has three ingredients: melatonin, organic vegetable glycerin, and natural flavors. It has nothing that is known to be harmful when inhaled.
Like MELO Sip, MELO Air also comes in a variety of popular flavors. And it works incredibly fast. Customers are amazed how quickly it works and how little they need. Try both types of supplements to see which one works better for you.