Periods of disturbed sleep are common for most of us some time in our life. While short periods of disrupted sleep are annoying but not detrimental, extended periods of sleep problems can greatly affect mental and physical health. Glycine - a natural sleep aid, may be beneficial for any people suffering with sleep problems.
In fact several studies have confirmed that sleep problems increase the risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes/ metabolic syndrome, and mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.
There are several options to treat sleep problems. The first option should always comprise proper sleep hygiene. This involves getting to bed at a regular time, limiting coffee intake, reducing night-time lights, and having a comfortable bed.
Medication can often be prescribed by medical practitioners to help improve sleep, however, their long-term use is problematic as it can lead to dependence and ‘rebound’ insomnia.
There are several natural options available to help improve sleep with increasing research supporting the benefits of an amino acid called glycine.
In one randomised, double-blind, placebo controlled study (gold standard study design), 3 grams of glycine given to adults with sleep problems over 3 consecutive nights significantly improved sleep quality . Compared to the placebo, the volunteers reported greater improvements in “fatigue”, “liveliness and peppiness”, and “clear-headedness”.
In another study by the same researchers, 3 grams of glycine improved sleep quality, and shortened time to fall asleep (measured through changes in brain waves) .
Finally, in another study published in the journal, Frontiers in Neurology, the effects of glycine on daytime sleepiness, fatigue, and mental performance in sleep-restricted healthy adults was investigated . Sleep was restricted to 25% less than the usual sleep time for three consecutive nights, and participants were given either 3 grams of glycine or placebo before bedtime. People who were given glycine were not as sleepy during the day and reported less fatigue following this period of sleep restriction. A computerised performance test also revealed significantly better psychomotor vigilance (compared to the placebo). This is positive news for people who are experiencing a period of reduced sleep restriction due pressures at work, home or school.