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How L-Theanine Promotes Better Sleep and a Healthy Stress Response -- and What You Should Combine It With

  • January 22, 2023
5 minute read

L-theanine is an amino acid with a remarkable background story. Discovered in 1949, it primarily resides within the leaves of green tea plants – resulting in its distinctive 'umami' or savory flavor profile that so many enjoy today! Not limited to just this one drink however, L-theanine can also be found lurking inside black teas and certain mushrooms too.

The health-promoting benefits of L-theanine

L-theanine is often taken for its ability to promote sleep and manage stress. But how does it accomplish these feats?

  • Relaxation: L-theanine, an amino acid found in tea leaves and other plants, has been extensively researched to assess its effects on the human brain. Studies have demonstrated that increasing levels of L-theanine increases dopamine and serotonin neurotransmitter activity while modulating alpha waves in the brain (indicating a state of relaxation).
  • Stress & Anxiety: L-theanine can reduce the activity of certain excitatory neurons in the brain and therefore lower stress hormone levels, blood pressure and heart rate. In a recent study involving 30 participants, researchers observed the effects of daily L-theanine consumption. After just four weeks it was clear that those who had taken 200 mg per day experienced significantly enhanced mental health and cognitive function compared to placebo users. These results revealed an improved overall emotional state for this group, suggesting that regular doses have powerful calming characteristics with general psychological benefits.
  • Sleep: Stress and its effect on sleep are intimately intertwined. Short-term or psychological stress causes the autonomic nervous system to release hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, activating a "fight or flight" response that gives individuals the energy they need to swiftly respond in dangerous situations. Unfortunately, this heightened state of arousal can be disruptive when it occurs before bedtime, removing our ability both to fall asleep and stay soundly slumbering throughout the night. In an important study, the use of L-theanine was linked to improved sleep quality as measured by Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) scores. At the end of an evaluation period in the study, participants who consumed L-theanine reported better overall rest with a decrease in their PSQI score – a result that indicates enhanced sleep efficiency and duration.

Combining L-theanine and GABA

Gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) is the natural, chemical actor in our brains responsible for slowing down neural activity. By blocking certain brain cells and subduing nerve impulses, this amino acid works as a calming agent to keep us balanced and relaxed.

Supplementing with a combination of L-theanine and GABA may be an effective strategy for promoting a more restful night's sleep. Data from clinical studies suggest that this dual approach to supplementation can lead to improved sleeping habits, including shorter times spent falling asleep and increasing the duration of slumber overall.

In fact, the studies suggest that a combination of the two supplemental amino acids, GABA and L-theanine, may significantly improve sleep quality when compared to taking only one of them alone. 


Combining L-theanine and ashwagandha

Withania somnifera, also known as ashwagandha or Indian ginseng, has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine to support the body's stress response and overall wellness. This powerful adaptogen helps maintain normal physiological functioning of the central nervous system – a cornerstone of good health. For this reason, combining ashwagandha and L-theanine can be an effective way to promote sleep and a healthy stress response.


Combining L-theanine and caffeine

To maximize the effectiveness of your L-theanine supplement and achieve optimal results, pair it with a classic caffeine source. This combination can improve reaction times, aid acute attention tasks, enhance task switching abilities and even reduce headaches caused by excessive caffeine intake. 

When supplementing with the duo, a daily dosage of up to 100mg-200mg L-Theanine and 400 mg caffeine is safe according to FDA guidelines. Achieve optimum balance for your wellbeing – make sure you get your recommended dose!

For these reason, Stoned Ape combines L-theanine, ashwagandha, GABA and caffeine in its Nootropack, which was designed to promote a calmed state of wakeful rest.


What to look out for when choosing an L-theanine supplement

With the FDA's limited regulation, it is up to you as a consumer to do your research when selecting supplements that contain L-theanine, GABA, caffeine and ashwagandha – or anything else for that matter. To guarantee safety and efficacy in these products, look for those with the following characteristics:

  • Third-party testing certification 
  • Were manufactured/produced within an FDA approved facility with Good Manufacturing Practices
  • Have botanical extracts standardized for uniformity, purity, efficacy and potency
  • Are free from synthetic colors or binders

Stoned Ape products are NSF Certified for Sport, guaranteeing the above standards are met. For a comprehensive guide on our own testing process, and how NSF compares to other organizations, check out our guide here.