GABA, Sleep And Anxiety: Can GABA Supplements Help?

photo of a bottle of 500mg gaba supplement

If you search for over the counter remedies for insomnia or anxiety, you might discover at least one with GABA listed as an ingredient.

You can find it on its own, or mixed with other relaxation-inducing ingredients, such as melatonin, chamomile, and valerian.

When I first took a sleep aid containing GABA, it was mixed with seven other ingredients. The sleep aid seemed to work, but there was no way to know if it was the GABA, another ingredient or even the placebo effect that did the trick.

So I decided to do see what research into GABA exists, and how strong the evidence is that it works as a sleep aid when taken as a supplement.

The bottom line is that scientists are still unsure how effective it is in supplement form. Some studies point to it helping with sleep, while others show only a marginal difference at best.

Let’s take a closer look at what I unearthed in my attempt to find out why it’s being added to more and more sleep aids.

What is GABA?

GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid) is a neurotransmitter produced naturally in the body, and it sends messages between the brain and the nervous system.

As the main ‘inhibitory neurotransmitter’ in the brain, its principal role is to reduce the activity of nerve cells in the nervous system.

By reducing the excitability of those nerve cells, GABA has a calming effect on the brain and body. So it’s thought to help reduce anxiety, stress, and promotes sleep. However, that effect happens in its natural form when it’s produced by your body – not bought online.

gaba mini infographic

Conditions associated with GABA

Scientists are still working to fully understand the role of GABA. However, it’s clear that it’s an important neurotransmitter, and scientists say it’s associated with several aspects of both physical and mental health, such as:

  • Anxiety and stress
  • Fear
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • ADHD
  • Inflammation
  • Premenstrual syndrome
  • Human growth hormone levels

Lower GABA levels in people with primary insomnia

How is GABA related to your sleep exactly? Research into the GABA levels people with insomnia naturally have in their brain might provide some clues.

In 2004, researchers at the Harvard Medical School scanned the brains of 16 non-medicated people to measure their GABA levels.

They found those with primary insomnia had nearly 30% lower GABA levels in their brain. They also found lower levels were associated with waking sooner after first falling asleep.

Medications that work by increasing GABA activity

Researchers point out that there is a known connection between GABA receptors and sleep: 

It is well established that activation of GABA(A) receptors favors sleep

And on that principle, several medications for anxiety and insomnia work by increasing GABA activity in the brain, including:

  • Benzodiazepines (e.g. diazepam, temazepam, and lorazepam)
  • Ambien
  • Lunesta

So if well-established sleeping pills work by targeting GABA in the brain, what else might do the same?

Can your body use the GABA in supplements?

Some scientists argue that GABA in supplement form just doesn’t work as a sleep aid. The reason being that several animal studies have shown that GABA taken orally can’t cross the blood-brain barrier.

The blood-brain barrier serves a critical role, preventing harmful substances from reaching the brain. It’s like your brain’s biological firewall.

However, researchers in 2015 challenged this long-held view in their paper on GABA supplementation, saying:

It has long been thought that GABA is unable to cross the blood–brain barrier (BBB), but the studies that have assessed this issue are often contradictory and range widely in their employed methods. There is some evidence in favor of a calming effect of GABA food supplements, but most of this evidence was reported by researchers with a potential conflict of interest. We conclude that the mechanism of action of GABA food supplements is far from clear, and that further work is needed to establish the behavioral effects of GABA.

Can GABA cross the blood-brain barrier?

The team of researchers also pointed out that some studies, such as this one in 2002, have found that GABA can cross the barrier in small quantities.

Other studies have shown that GABA supplements can help with relaxation and anxiety. For example, in 2006, researchers showed GABA supplements helped people with a fear of heights experience less anxiety when crossing a bridge.

So why do some studies show it can, while others that it can’t? Perhaps a few reasons:

  • Only rats and dogs were tested for changes in GABA levels in most of the earlier studies – not humans.
  • Not all research studies used the same GABA compounds.
  • Studies used different methods of administration (oral and injection).

Making the barrier more permeable

Could it be that even if the blood-brain barrier is resistant to ingested GABA, it can be made more permeable?

The animal study in 2002 found that by giving rats both GABA and L-Arginine, the amount of GABA in the brain increased by four times more than just GABA alone.

The researchers suggested that the L-Arginine increases nitric oxide levels in the brain. And that makes the barrier more open to GABA.

Another study in 2001 found evidence that a GABA transporter might exist in the brain, which can help it cross the blood-brain barrier.

And more recently in 2019, researchers in Korea showed an improvement in the sleep of mice when they gave them a combination of GABA and L-theanine. They found that the time it took to fall asleep and the total sleep duration both improved, and the effect was better than if either supplement was taken alone.

So there does appear to be hope for the manufacturers of GABA supplements.

GABA in food form helps people fall asleep faster

In 2015, researchers from Pharma Foods International Co. Ltd. tested the effects of GABA on sleep. The GABA they used was produced by natural fermentation of a strain of lactic acid bacteria.

Using an EEG to monitor sleep, they found it shortened the time it took the participants to fall asleep by 5.3 minutes on average.

It should be noted there were a small number of participants in the study, but the results are still encouraging.

They also note that it would be safe to take it daily, as it’s a well-known food. And that’s good news for lovers of fermented vegetables, popular in some Asian countries, such as Kimchi.

kimchi - a natural source of GABA

Supplements or food form?

The above study raises an interesting question. Would it be better to try to increase GABA activity with supplements or normal food?

Increasing levels of GABA by eating food is arguably the safer option – assuming it’s possible and effective. It’s an area of research some scientists are actively exploring, with promising results.

Marina Diana and colleagues in Spain published a review of GABA-enriched foods in 2014. Like the study above, they focused on fermented food products, saying:

Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) are the main GABA-producers and therefore there are a wide range of GABA-enriched fermented food products, in which GABA is natural, safe and eco-friendly.

And in another study, they also looked at the GABA levels in Spanish artisan cheeses. Again, there were positive findings:

Ten Lactobacillus strains isolated from artisan Spanish cheeses showed high capacity of gamma-aminobutyric acid production.

On a personal level, I’ve taken a lot of interest in the human microbiome recently – it’s a developing area of science which is fascinating once you start reading about the connections scientists are finding between our brain and our ‘second brain’, i.e. the gut. And it doesn’t surprise me that our gut might have a role to play in how well we sleep. Fermented food to the rescue once again!

A recent review of GABA supplements highlights problems with previous studies

Researchers sometimes decide to scrutinize large numbers of previous research studies to see just how strong the evidence is. This kind of systematic review can be very useful, as they often highlight problems with some studies done in the past.

In 2020, a team in the United Kingdom took a close look at studies in which GABA had been tested on stress and sleep in humans. They left out poorer quality studies and only included those that had placebo-controlled human trials.

Although they found some evidence that GABA might help reduce how long it takes to fall asleep, they didn’t find strong evidence that it helps with overall sleeep quality or total sleep time.

They summarized their analysis this way:

Although more studies are needed before any inferences can be made about the efficacy of oral GABA consumption on stress and sleep, results show that there is limited evidence for stress and very limited evidence for sleep benefits of oral GABA intake.

This doesn’t look so good then if you were planning on buying some GABA supplements to help you sleep! Having said that, I do think it’s important to keep in mind that this is still an area where more research is needed.

But it does highlight that where GABA is concerned, we’re not taking about a sleep aid you can easily buy that will definitely have an impact on your sleep. So if you do decide to try it, perhaps lower your expectations a little.

Side effects and safety of GABA supplements

There isn’t enough research into the possible side effects of taking GABA in supplements.

There don’t appear to be serious safety fears occurring in research studies. However, because it’s still a developing area, most medical sources advise the following:

  • Pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid taking it.
  • If already taking medication for anxiety, depression or insomnia, speak to your doctor first.
  • If you experience any possible side effects, for example, skin tingling, flushing, breathing difficulties or changes in mood, speak to a doctor.

Have you taken GABA supplements?

If you’ve tried GABA supplements, I’d love to hear from you. What health condition did you take them for, and did you notice any effect?


  1. I have central sleep apnea along with insomnia. My Dr suggested gabapentin, but did not see these FDA warnings:

    Patients and caregivers should seek medical attention immediately if you or someone you are caring for experiences symptoms of respiratory problems, because these can be life threatening.

    Folks should be aware of this possibility if they have any breathing disorders.

  2. I took GABA for the first time last night. I had a markedly more sleepless night- (I’d taken it because I am getting desperate because my nervous system is over activated. I have heart palpitations, fight and flight, neuropathic bladder pain and frequency.) doctors can’t help me -the heart thing is diagnosed ectopic atrial tachycardia and the drugs I’ve been given for it beta blocker -make all the symptoms worse. Now I seem to have the same paradoxical reaction to GABA. So much so, I doubt I’ll try it again.
    All I’ve read about the vagus nerve seems to point to a problem with disregulation of my nervous system. It seemed like I read somewhere that too much GABA can also be a problem.

  3. I tried GABA for a few days before bed and it caused restless sleep and repeatedly waking through the night. I am also taking Mag. Bisclycinate before bed. Maybe they interfere with one another?

  4. Never again. No to Gaba! 250mg is giving me shortness of breath, heart palpitations, and a feeling of panic & pressure in the chest. I took it for anxiety/sleep and now trying to stay calm cuz this is scary. I immediately searched for Gaba causing shortness of breath and anxiety, I did find something interesting that nobody talks about! An article said that not just low Gaba, but high Gaba can cause insomnia/anxiety due to the fact that the body’s signal that a stressor has occurred is the body’s release of Gaba in the body. So when high levels of Gaba in the body are detected, this is also a signal to the body that stress is, or was, happening. I still want to know more, but it’s clear that pill form Gaba can confuse the body, and perhaps suppress breathing too much, causing shortness of breath. Be careful, I was so misguided by every website & doctors that said it has calming effects, but this does not account for various things, including the major difference of Gaba naturally occurring in the body versus artificial Gaba introduced into the body, and what the artificial introduction might signal to your body “We are stressed! Gaba is high! Go into overdrive!” …..Personally I will NEVER take this again after this scary reaction.

    • Hi Lavender
      Thanks for sharing your experience, and I’m sorry to hear you’ve had such a bad reaction to the GABA, assuming that it the cause. Could you give me a link for the article you read that led you to talk about high GABA quantities being a problem? I’m sure other readers would also like to know where this information came from.

  5. Hi Ethan, I have been struggling to sleep for years. The past few nights I have taken 125 grams of GABA before bed, and I am amazed by the results. Each night I have fallen asleep much more easily, slept more deeply, and awoken with some recollection of my dreams, which is highly unusual for me. This is certainly not conclusive evidence, but for me it’s highly encouraging and I will be continuing to take GABA before bed in hopes of continuing my my appreciated breakthrough in sleep quality. I am also taking L-Theanine during the day, and wondering if taking L-Arginine is worth a try.

    Cheers, Ian

    • Hi Ian
      Thanks for sharing your experience. It’s always good to hear from people who have tried a supplement themselves. Let me know how you get on with the L-Theanine.

  6. I took GABA to help curb my thoughts before sleeping and if I awakened in the night. It worked wonders! Highly recommended bit if you can’t turn off your brain at night.

  7. Hello Ethan. I was googling to see if there is any issue with GABA dependence- perhaps regular use results in the body making less of it. There doesn’t seem to be any knowledge about this. I have had sleep apnea for a long time and use supplements to help with sleeping with the CPAP. I have tried all the usual ones, and vary them to avoid any decrease in effectiveness. GABA, at 500 mg. NOW brand has been a staple for a long time. It was clearly effective when I started it, but hearing about the blood barrier question, I started taking it at the same time as the bioperine/curcumin capsules I also take. I am unclear if this improved the effect- it’s hard to track memories. But what I am absolutely clear about is that GABA is very effective- more so than any other supplement I have tried. It is weird to read again about the blood barrier question. I can definitely answer that question, at least for this one person.
    Someone wrote that there is a concern about the effect of GABA supplements on the thyroid gland. Do you have any info about this?
    Thanks much. Jim

    • Hi Jim
      Thanks for sharing your experience – it was interesting to read. I still don’t think enough research has been done to conclude whether GABA in supplement form leads to dependence. I imagine like any sleep aid, it might be possible to develop a psychological dependence if you feel you need it to help you sleep. But as for physical dependence, I haven’t seen any research. And for now, it seems the same applies to the impact on the thyroid gland. Looking at sites like webMD that’s usually quite up to date with risks and interactions, they don’t have a lot to say about this.

  8. Hi Ethan!
    Thank you so much for this timely article. I say timely as I was just researching if GABA should be taken at night versus the am which is when I have been taking it now for a few weeks. I added it to my morning regimen mainly for the potential of reducing nerve pain. I do have anxiety and have struggled with insomnia off and on for years. I have actually been sleeping fairly well lately so didn’t connect the GABA until my husband noticed that I have been considerably “chill” the last couple of weeks. I am still sleeping quite well but the biggest thing that I personally have noticed is that I do not seem to wake up still feeling exhausted. I am sleepy during the day like I could take a nap but it’s not fatigue so that is a good thing. Especially since I work 12 hour shifts. However, because of this, I googled whether I should take the GABA at night, wondering if sleepiness was a side effect and lo! I found your article. Very interesting and good information. Thank you!

  9. Hello I have been taking 750 mg gaba bought at walmart my dosage is 1 750 mg tablet twice daily I take it with metohormin, lisintioril and 16 mg suboxone ..I also take testosterone supplements daily with much greater effect when taken with my gaba . For some reason you can really feel the testosterone supplement much more strongly when taken at the same time with gaba…anyway thata a little sample of my gaba experience..

    • Unfortunately recent research found out that gaba supplements can interact with and seems to suppress thyroid hormones which seems devastating. Do you know more about this ?

  10. Hello,

    Thank you for creating this website. I have been reading it at length. Like you I have experimented with numerous sleep aids. With the exception of antihistamines, which stop working after a short while, most OTC sleep aids have no effect on me. Until I started combining them.

    Here is my story. I have stopped taking a medication called Olanzapine and the major withdrawal effect I experience is severe insomnia. I can’t sleep at all. I’ve read on many mental health forums about many other patients who have experienced extreme insomnia after cessation of Olanzapine, so it appears to be very common.

    After spending several months experimenting here is my sleep stack/cocktail that puts me to sleep for a few hours. I would prefer at least 7-8 hours but 3-5 will have to do for now.

    500mg VItamin C
    400 IU Vitamin D
    12.5mg Thompson zinc picolinate (1/2 pill – The easiest absorbed zinc)
    100mg 5-HTP
    500mg GABA
    5mg Melatonin Vitafusion Gummies
    2 capsules of Jamieson Herbal Complex – Valerian (Relax & Sleep). It contains valerian, hops, passionflower and catnip.

    I take this combination about 45 minutes before bed and usually fall to sleep pretty easily, I just don’t sleep as long as I would like, but it is the most effective combination I have tried.

    I’ve also tried Benadryl and Unisom (doxylamine) and they where fairly effective sleep aids but the Benadryl gave me side effects and the Unisom stopped being effective after a couple months. They put me to sleep for about 3-5 hours too. They both act as fairly powerful Anxiolytics though, but take 1 hour or so to notice that effect.

    I’ve read adding l-theanine with GABA is a winning combination for sleep but l-theanine has a paradoxical effect on me and keeps me awake and alert. I’ve also hear adding l-arginine with GABA helps GABA pass the blood brain barrier so it is more effective, however l-arginine didn’t agree with me. Others may benefit from these.

    Kind regards,

    • Hi Fred
      Thanks for your comment and for sharing your experience. Although I’ve tried various sleep aids that have combinations of ingredients, I don’t feel qualified to comment on the combination you have been taking. I’m curious to know if you’ve talked it over with a medical professional though to get their opinion on the safety, efficacy and how long they feel you could take it for.
      I know coming off some meds, such as Olanzapine, can have an effect on sleep and that it can be stressful trying to find a more natural way to sleep better. I hope you manage to get on top of your sleep in the long-term without needing to continue your regimen for long.
      All the best

    • Bf just started taking to help with anxiety and sleep. Hoping this can help with gambling tendencies and chewing tobacco. Best time of day to take and with food?

    • Hi Fred,

      Thanks you for sharing your story. If I may suggest not taking VIT D in the evening, only the morning because it’s counterproductive. Please look into when it’s the best time to take VIT D.

      Best of Luck!


    • Hi fred i have been given Xanax to aid with my sleep. i started with a low dosage 0.25mg and took it for a month and the effect wore off. when i asked the doctor he suggested increasing the dosage. I was reluctant and stopped taking it and suffered from severe insomnia and panic attacks for 6 days. So I”m back to it yet the effect is 3 hours sleep combined with magnesium glycinate. So i was thinking of stopping it once again (i have taken it for 3 months) and start gaba supplement.

      • It doesn’t take long to develop a severe addiction to Xanax. The only way I could get off Xanax was with electro acupuncture twice a week for 2 months. They use this in china to cure heroin addiction. I was addicted to Xanax for ten years. It is a very addictive drug. Trust me, I know of what I speak. Best Wishes, Alex

    • The cup that comes with Nyquil cold and flu ….one cup of Nyquil cold and flu, two 5mgs melatonin…works for me…not 10 mgs of melatonin but two 5mgs….not Nyquil zzzzz or severe…BUT ONLY COLD AND FLU ALONG WITH 2MGS MELATONIN….GOT IT.

  11. Hi,
    back again. I am recently taking 300 mg Magnesium in the evening, 100 mg of 5 htp (Griffonia), 1 mg of Melatonin and a quarter of Zolpidem.
    I read different comments on Melatonin and when I tried 1,9 mg it did not really improve my sleep.
    My sleep is still a desaster, falling asleep very late after, waking up early and my sleep is rather superficial with lots of dreams and I do not really feel refreshed in the morning. Sometimes I take Theanine and Inositol during the day which makes me more focused and awake. I have read it should help for sleep, but I am sceptical to take it in the evening. Has anyone tried one of them in the evening? I will try again with a low amount of GABA 200 mg and increasing the 5 htp to 200 mg. I am glad to see all your posts here, if I am reading the comments on Amazon, I have the impression everyone falls asleep as soon as they take whatever pill such a theanine, gaba, melatonine, etc. Have a good sleep….

  12. GABA has helped me tremendously. I have anxiety, hypochondiasis, and insomnia. Typically when I go to bed, that’s when my mind starts racing. I can’t seem to quiet my mind. There’s no way I could go to sleep when that happens. But ever since I started using GABA, the ruminating thoughts has calmed down and I’m able to go to sleep rather quickly and I stay asleep. I only take one 100 mg capsule about an hour before bedtime. That’s it. It’s one of the best quality supplement makers out there, so naturally it’s more expensive. About $28 a bottle as opposed to other makers that only cost about $12. But when it comes to sleep, I wanted the best.

    • Hi Jason,

      I am interested in knowing what brand of GABA supplement you are taking. I just got a bottle of NOW GABA powder because I have zero experience with it. Thank you for any information you can offer. Elizabeth

      • Elizabeth, I have GABA from NOW, 500 mg, but I have tried 500 mg, but it caused me heart palpitations, that’s why I have decreased the amount.

        • Wow! I was taking 500 mg as well and also noticed heart palpitations. So I stopped completely. I thinking I may reduce to 100mg as well.

      • I am taking 500 to a 1,000 mgs of GABA. I GET A LITTLE SLEEPY…EVEN THAT IS FABULOUS! Then I slow down….quiet my mind…breath exercises…and then….sleep! Inhale breath to seven Seconds ….hold for seven sec.s….exhale ten secs.

  13. Tried gaba for anxiety. It actually gives me more anxiety. It disturbs my sleep, gives me vivid dreams/nightmares all night long and leaves me feeling fearful when I wake up. I had to take a benzo the morning after I had gaba. So no, with me it enhances anxiety. It also causes extreme thirst. So no, it doesn’t work with me. I tried the same brand as in the picture above.

    • Hi Ellevier
      Thanks for sharing your experience. It just highlights how no sleep aid will be right for everyone.

    • It did the same thing to me! Thank you for sharing because I’ve searched for side effects of GABA and cannot find nightmares listed as any side effects. I take a trio med so was trying to figure out which of the three was causing the nightmares.

      • Yes, me too! Taking GABA at night gave me vivid nightmares — or just vivid dreams that were mildly distressing and upsetting to remember upon awakening. I am going to try taking GABA again in the morning as opposed to before sleep to see if it helps my ADHD and anxiety (and hopefully therefore help sleep without the nightmares).

        I take 200mg L-Theanine with caffeine every morning, and it helps my ADHD and mood HUGELY — I also take 100mg Theanine before sleep, and it seems to help me sleep more deeply and through the night. I had tried taking 500mg GABA + 350mg Theanine previously and it seemed to increase the intensity of my emotions … so going to try the combo lower doses and see if it has a helpful effect on mood, ADHD, and sleep.

        • Thank you all for posting and confirming my experience. I ran out of my Centrum melatonin + whole food sleep supplement and tried NightRest with 2.5 melatonin, GABA 250 mg, etc. – that is half their rec. dose. I have had vivid, weird, and stressful nightmares ever since and pretty sure this is the cause. I am guessing my body already makes enough GABA from my food and the supplement puts my brain in overload somehow. I think I will try taking it during the day instead or maybe toss it. A good lesson to take as few supplements as possible and rely on a healthy whole food diet.

  14. Everyone is wired differently, sorry to hear it didn’t help you!

    I tried gaba and it works way too much for me i went from sleeping 3hrs/night to sleeping all day and barely being up 3-5hrs to eat shower etc.

  15. Hi! Thanks for the article! What dosage of GABA do you think it’s appropriate for anxiety/stress/bad sleep? I took 400mg for two nights added with l-theanine. I had a terrible headache, not sure if it was GABA or l-theanine. have you ever heard that any of them might cause migraine?

    • Hi Nathalia
      You’re welcome. As I’m not a doctor, I wouldn’t feel comfortable in suggesting a recommended dosage to you personally. I usually stick to the standard rule of taking no more than a manufacturer of a supplement recommends for their own product. If you want to take more for whatever, or are thinking of getting it in supplement form that isn’t specifically intended for sleep, I’d check with a doc to be on the safe side. I know from personal experience that all kinds of sleep aids can potentially cause headaches, depending on the person, type, dosage, timing, etc etc. So again, I’d check with a doc. But for personally, if a product gives me a bad reaction, I tend to trust my gut feeling and leave it.

    • Hi,
      I have tried once 500 mg of Gaba, but I got heart palpitations, so I got rather scared. Now I open the tablet and try to divide it. I also take 500 mg of Tryptophan and still a tiny bit of my Zolpidem medication which I would like to stop after years of taking it. My sleep is still not good, with lots of awakenings during the night. I will try to increase Tryptophan to 1 mg and taking Phosphatidyl Serine when I wake up. Good luck with finding sleep.

      • Stop taking the gaba then. I can’t sleep when I take gaba. The only thing that helps me with sleep is Benadryl. Like a baby!

        • Hi!
          I wanted to let you know in case you didn’t already that I to took Benadryl to sleep for years but started experiencing cognitive decline at 54. I started seeing a Neurologist and he told me to stop taking it as it increases the risk for dementia.
          I am only taking 1/2 of a tablet ever other night and am looking for a substitute.
          I hope we can both find one.

          • Wow Jeanette, I’d not heard that about benadryl! I’m not really surprised though. I’m hoping the GABA powder I just got today will help enough to eliminate the need for benadryl. Elizabeth

          • My physician said the same thing about Benedryl and the increase of dementia.
            I take GABA (750 mg) each night /instead and it has helped tremendously. Also – added a cup of Sleepy Time Tea ( extra strength) 2 bags every night and am a different person now that I sleep through the night.!!

          • Try hydroxyzine it’s antihistamine AND used for anxiety. Helps sleep. Start off low dose first, 25 mg. L

          • Your doctor was RIGHT on target, according to this Harvard study. It lists alternate drugs to take which are less likely to cause cognitive decline. I had been on Paxil, Xanax, Atarax for 18 years and got off, now TRYING Wellbutrin while avoiding the benzos. (I take 250mg Krebs Magnesium-Potassium Complex, 750mg GABA Calm Mind (Source Naturals), and 100mg 5-HTP to help me sleep and reduce unwanted racing thoughts.) Here’s the Harvard study link:

    • Hi Nathalia. L theanine definitely causes migraines with me and they are very strong ones, had to stop taking unfortunatey.

    • Hi Nathalia;
      I get a migraine and nightmares from melatonin as it reduces cortisol and I have adrenal insufficiency. I find this the case with L-theanine as well. My insomnia is generally from low cortisol and so these supplements have the opposite effect on me. Raising good unrefined salt (Celtic or Himalayan) throughout the day and before bedtime helps my sleep quite a bit for this reason. I buy no salt soup broth and put the good salt in. Baking soda water has also been helpful

      Last night, I tried GABA 100mg x 2 in divided doses before and through the night. So far so good and no migraine. I am trying to find some research on GABA and its impact on cortisol right now. I can only share my experience but not advise on dosages.

  16. Has anyone tried GABA and kava together? I can’t seem to find info on whether these to products are safe to take together.

    • I haven’t personally Carole, and avoid Kava generally. Perhaps another reader will have some thoughts on this for you.

    • Insomnia for 3 years due to elevated cortisol. Experimenting with every herb and currently thinking about trying an amino acid called l-orthonine. Gaba and l-theanine work but be cautious, can cause your heart rate to get too low while your sleeping!

      • I had the same experience, GABA initially worked for my anxiety and insomnia, but recently I’ve experienced heart palpitations and low heart rate at night time. Which is now keeping me awake!

        I have lowered my GABA dosage significantly, do you remember how long your heart rate symptoms lasted after lowering GABA?

  17. Hi everyone,
    First night with GABA 500mg, Melatonin 5mg, 5HTP 50mg. Slept from 22:00-07:00. Best sleep since childhood and I am 33 years old with an insomnia diagnosis. I have used Melatonin and 5HTP before, but never slept the whole night. With the GABA added I slept deeper and the whole night through. Had both nice dreams and nightmares but considering the sleep quality I am okey with that. On top of this I feel very relaxed. I will update you guys in a week or so and try to document my experience every day.


    • Thanks for sharing your experience Johannes. It would definitely be interesting to hear back from you. Can I ask, did you put together that mix yourself, or are you listing the ingredients in a product you bought?

    • Hi Johannes,
      How is it going with gaba, 5htp and melatonin for sleep? I have insomnia and I have been taking tryptophan for a while and then I stopped it and started 5htp about 10 days ago but i haven’t noticed any improvement all this time. I also ordered gaba and i was thinking of mixing it with 5htp: 200 mg of 5htp and 750 mg gaba

      • As I’m looking for a product to help my sleeping through the night, I see all the ingredients you are all discussing here and then a few extra are in a product on Amazon (which seems to get good reviews) called Sleep Fairy Natural Sleep Aid. I think I may give it a try. I was hoping to find it somewhere local so I can just go pick it up now, but looks like I’ll have to order it and receive it in a few days. I’ll try to remember to check back here and give my feedback. I’ll give it a couple weeks unless it’s a miracle for me, if that happens…you’ll all hear back sooner:)

        • I tried the Sleep Fairy but found it too weak for me. The amount of each ingredient is too low for me. I need much higher amounts of each. Too bad though as I’d love to find something that combines all in the high amounts I need.

  18. Hi Ethan.
    This is an interesting subject that I’ve thought about quite often. I’ve had a lot of issues with severe insomnia for the last few years. I’ve suffered with debilitating anxiety/panic attacks most of my life as well (I’m 35) So when I read about GABA & it’s neurological role, I became convinced I’ve had abnormally low levels of it which has contributed to my lifelong anxiety and sleep issues. Because when I’ve taken a substance that boosts GABA – benzos, alcohol, sleeping pills (never taken together of course!) I sleep better & my anxiety markedly reduces. Like water on fire.

    Of course, everyone gets anxious sometimes & has some trouble sleeping from time to time but I feel for those of us with persistent anxiety and insomnia is that we likely have abnormally low levels of GABA which is causing our chronic issues. And GABA-ergic substances improves these issues.

    • Hi Liam
      Thanks for sharing your story here. It’s very interesting to hear how much you think GABA helps you. I would caution depending on the GABA theory as a pathway to coping with anxiety. It’s worth reading more about alcohol’s effect on GABA receptors in the brain I think, as it’s not so clear cut from what I can tell myself. I also think there are other explanations for some people’s sleep problems or anxiety, so it’s always worth bearing in mind that not everyone will respond the same to the same treatment or techniques.
      Still, if it seems to work for you, that’s interesting. Perhaps the trick is to find out how you can use that information to find natural ways to cope with your anxiety and sleep issues without needing substances or supplements!

      • I have tried using Gaba while taking 100mg of Seroquel and zolpidem. It made me feel sick inside and gave me a head. It interrupted my sleep altogether. Maybe due to the fact im on other medication while taking gaba.

      • Thanks for working this site….very interesting.

        With GABA…I have none of the weird experiences people write about here. Does it help with sleep? 500 or 1,000 mgs…makes me a wee sleepy…nothing dramatic…
        I am old ( 82 yrs) and therefore should be way sensitive! Not!
        Thanks again. I appreciate this site!

    • Hi Liam that makes sense. Are you taking gaba at the moment and is it helping? I’m going to start with 500mg is that too much?

  19. I enjoyed the discussions re. GABA. I’m just beginning to experiment with GABA and comments were very helpful. I have had two complete nights without any sleep and I’m searching for a solution to my insomnia and anxiety.

    • Hi there
      Thanks for your comment – I’m glad the article and comments were interesting. I would think about natural techniques if you can – have you seen my main page about relaxation techniques? Some of those might help you out – you can find it here.

  20. I have Hashimotos Thyroiditis and I have had difficulty with sleep for over a decade. I started taking pharma gaba by a we’ll known manufacturer. It did not work at all. I literally didn’t sleep at all last night. I’m convinced I need to heal my gut.

    • Look into Iodine loading therapy based on Dr.Brownstein’s research regarding your thyroid issues. It’s likely you have an overactive thyroid/nodules which is preventing you from resting properly.

      • Iodine is good for people with generally low functioning thyroid (which I have) – but is NOT good for people with Hashimoto’s (which my husband has.) It’s great to hear about what other people are trying / what works for them, but I think we all need to be careful about ‘recommending’ supplements to others when we don’t have all information.

    • Hi, Melanie. Just found this page and read your comment about Hashimoto’s and sleep. I had no idea they were related. I have had HT for about ten years and have suffered sleep disorder during that time. Also have gut issues. Could I ask, what have you found that helps HT, gut issues, and/or sleep pattern?

    • Hi Melanie, if you are wanting help with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis google Anthony William, better known as Medical Medium. He has a book Thyroid Healing and loads of info online. He can tell you the source and how to heal including supplements. He’s very good 👍. Good luck with it

  21. I have been taking xanax nightly to help with sleep due to anxiety and PTSD. I was looking for a more natural supplement to assist with sleep. Because I have taken xanax for sleep for over 4 years, melatonin did not do the trick. I started taking Gaba with my xanax, lowering the dose of the xanax weekly to try and wean myself off of the xanax all together. I am taking one 500 mg pill and currently .5mg of xanax at night. While it does help me fall asleep and stay asleep for about 8 hours, I wake feeling very drowsy, almost lethargic and very dizzy for the first few hours of the day. I do not feel this way when solely taking the xanax. I was wondering if others have had this experience of waking feeling dizzy and lethargic. Ultimately, I would like to be able to fall asleep quickly and sleep soundly without the use of xanax. It is encouraging to know that there are other options out there. I just wanted to see if others have experienced these same symptoms in the morning.

    • Hi Ann
      Thanks for sharing your experience. I can’t comment on this combination specifically as I haven’t taken it – perhaps another reader will see your comment and reply. Out of interest, did you ask the doctor who prescribes the Xanax if it’s okay to take both?

    • 500mg of GABA is a high dose to take with the medication, because 500mg of GABA is the sleep dose. I take two 500mg GABA at night and I found it worked great and I woke up refreshed. It’s said that GABA should not be taken with sedatives or alcohol, because it can cause dizziness and low blood pressure, etc. For me though; I take L-Theanine during the day (which is also a precursor to GABA) and GABA at night and I’ve also tried taking GABA during the day to help with quitting smoking, but then, the GABA started not working and almost seemed as though it was giving me energy. I did read that too much can stop the GABA from increasing HGH, etc, as It says here that the increase in HGH is what happens during rest. So I’m guessing that between the L-Theanine and GABA, I probably became level and then it was too much. I probably just need to cut down on my day supplements for the nightly GABA to start working again. Definitely a delicate balance with a lot of trial and error.

    • Ann L, I am also on Gaba and Xanax along with Magnesium. I sleep well but really want to ween off the Xanax. I have started to slowly ween myself off Xanax. My doctor told me to double my GABA and I can take less Xanax. I totally understand how you feel. Will double the GABA 750mg and cut back the Xanax tomorrow night. Will see how it goes.

      • Hi Linda, I just weaned off of gabapentin as there were awful side effects. Still in pain from side effects, I haven’t been sleeping much for days so tonight plan on taking the xanex with 500 mg GABA. Have you found the amount of GABA to use when you skip the xanex?

    • Ann, please check this research about the cognitive decline effects of Xanax. I was on .5 mg of Xanax for 10 years, got off all benzos (trying alternative meds shared in the link) and am now doing everything possible to help with awful memory problems. (Also taking 750 mg GABA, 100mg 5-HTP, and 250mg magnesium to help me sleep at night; the 5-HTP/magnesium combination 2x a day was a miracle that ended my 40-year battle with severe migraines. ) Here’s the link:

  22. I am very concerned about my brother and he is completely sedated by medications. He has been suffering from Bipolar Disorder for the last 20 years. He is currently on Lithium Carbonate, Latuda, Quetiapine and Clonazepan. In addition the health provider has also prescribed him with no less than 11 different Vitamins. He is on Pharma Gaba 250mg, Melatonin 10mg Magnesium Taurate, Magnesium Citramate etc… list goes on. I am sure these medications and the Vitamins are doing him no good. I am not so sure if you can provide me with some advice which is most appreciated. Look forward to hearing from you soon and thank you

    • Hi Roberto
      Thanks for your comment. I can understand your concern – your brother is taking some powerful medications there. I don’t know how much input you have in his care, but if he trusts you and is also concerned about the meds he’s taking and the effects, perhaps you could work with him to ask for a medication review?

      • Dear Ethan

        Than you for your response really appreciated. Your comment is noted and I will work together with my brother and ask for a medication review from his health provider.
        I will be in touch when I have some update for you.



  23. I just started taking GABA and 5-HTP. Since I have every symptom of low GABA, including epilepsy, it made sense to try it. GABA has really helped me to feel better, more calm, and more focused. It’s also helping my digestion get back to normal as well. More energy in the morning plus greater relaxation at night is perfectly fine with me :)

    If this helps, I’m using NOW Foods GABA, 500 mg capsules. So far I’ve taken the capsules on an empty stomach (one capsule first thing in the morning, one around mid-afternoon, and one before bed plus two 5-HTP capsules). I feel like myself again.

    For the first time in several years I’m able to sleep all night long without taking seraquel, clonapin, etc.

    Everyone is different, but this is working great for both myself and my daughter.

    • Hi Ruthanne
      Thanks for sharing your story – it was very interesting to hear how much it seems to be helping you.

    • Hi Ruthanne.
      How much gaba do you know you need? I have had severe insomnia and anxiety and was going to start on 500mg a night. I’m hoping it will have the desired effect or does it take some time to work. Do you know whether you can take it with mirtazapine?

  24. Hello Mr. Green,
    Thank you for your online information. It is of great interest. I will try to be brief, but in my dilemma, it will be difficult.
    I am a 71-year-old male, an obsessive workaholic all my life. In the mid-’90s I had six surgeries because of root canals done incorrectly. I had a systemic infection with seven years of antibiotics, gall bladder and appendix removed, etc). By 2000 I found I was gluten intolerant. By 2010 I was forced to retire because of exhaustion. During the first week of July in 2015, I suddenly stopped sleeping. I also noticed that I had lost my ‘fight or flight’ mechanism. “Couldn’t sleep” means – No Sleep! Finally, I took Alprazolam. I slept 6 hours each evening with .25 mg, but by 2019 my body wanted more and more – I would not allow this. I could not believe my body was addicted to .25 mg, but I was. I stopped taking the .25 mg of Alprazolam on September 28 (2019) and began taking 5 mg of Belsomra. The first four nights I had hot flashes and cold sweats. Since Belsomra was not helping, I stopped that product on October 9th.
    The last three nights I have taken two doses of GABA: 375 mg with each dose, along with 50 mg of Magnesium Glycinate, 200 mg of Passion Flower, and 100 mg of L-Arginine & 50 mg of L-Lysine. This combination of supplements, taken at 7 pm and again at 8 pm, works quickly, but I only sleep for 30 minutes! At midnight I take 12.5 mg of Doxylamine – that works for 1.5 hours. At 2:30 am I take a cortisol-reducing sleep aid that also works for 1.5 hours (it does not work at any other hour of the night).
    Crazy things:
    #1. From October 7-12, I slept only 8 hours total during those six nights. This is the truth, but what is even stranger, I actually felt OK during the days.
    #2. After sex, I actually slept. (No, my wife and I can’t have sex every night for me to sleep!)
    #3. In retrospect, about two years ago I started taking Vitamin B Complex (liquid form). I slept well 18 nights in a row – then ‘nothing.’
    #4. During the last four years, I have taken ‘what I believe to be the correct supplements.’ I had an EKG in the fall of 2015. I have had two EKGs in 2019 and a heart scan – everything is perfect! I have had a huge number of blood tests.
    #5. I have now had 45 visits to medical experts: MDs, DOs, 3 Endochrinologists, 3 Urologists, 3 nutritionists, and many herbalists.
    #6. My testosterone (free and total) were very low, (and still are) and my SHBG is high. One of the endochrinists stated (with my wife in the room) that “hormones have nothing to do with sleep.”
    Mr. Green, I trust you will have helpful information for me. I look forward to hearing from you. Please keep my email address confidential.
    Sincerely, Charlie

    • Hi Charlie
      Thanks for your comment. It’s not my place to give specific advice about someone’s complex medical situation and the medication they take. Really, that’s between you and your primary care provider – sorry! I would say though that taking a cocktail of different sleep aids is rarely a good idea, so I would discuss that with your doctor. I’d also do some careful research into Doxylamine and the current medical advice about older adults taking it.

    • Some people are backwards. Maybe try the relaxing supplements during the day and coffee at night. I’ve read and heard that people who have ADHD and their circadian rhythm is off; they actually need a stimulant to sleep. I’ve also read about people who need coffee to sleep at night. I’m trying to figure out my own sleeping issues. I’ve been taking GABA with excellent results, for 1 week and now it seems like it’s giving me energy rather than putting me to sleep. If I take it during the day, in an attempt to relieve nicotine cravings, rather than tire me, I become more energized and my usual need to nap during the day is gone. Been battling insomnia and daytime fatigue and feeling like I’m living with a permanent flu during the day, only to be wide awake at night, while feeling lightheaded and too weak to stand or sit up, during the day.

      • I have ADHD and Can’t sleep unless I have a cup of black tea before bed. Infact, the worst insomnia I have ever experienced was during a period I gave up caffeine to help with anxiety. I had no sleep for a week and my doctor actually told me to go back to drinking caffeine.

  25. Hi, Ethan,
    I appreciate your comments and other info on GABA. I used to take it, alone, for a better workout experience.
    Over the last two years, my sleep patterns have degraded, due to extreme stress.

    I found a number of positive reviews of taking it with melatonin. The dosage was 500 mg GABA with 5 mg Melatonin.

    The result was amazing, at the beginning. However, it was recommended to take it every night, which I did. After about 3 weeks, I’d have a tiny bit of anxiety for a few minutes about an hour after ingestion. I didn’t relate it to the GABA/Melatonin right away, but then I started having scary thoughts, then last night (it’s now been a month) I actually had what could have been called a nightmare, but I was awake at the time! I read that you could have hallucinations from GABA/valerian/melatonin combinations and that is what I believe happened to me, even without the valerian.

    I’m passing this cautionary tale on so it may help someone else. It’s important to note that I was taking it almost every night. After the anxious feelings started, I took a day or so off from it. On the nights I didn’t take it, the symptoms disappeared.

    For myself, I’m going to stop taking the combo and stick with CBD oil. It doesn’t help me sleep, but it calms me.

    • Hi Haley
      Thanks for sharing your experience, or cautionary tale as you say. I often take melatonin, especially when travelling, and find that it sometimes gives me vivid dreams. Not nightmares though, as far as I can recall. If it did, or any other combo, I would also stop taking it I think!

      • Hey everyone,

        So i get bad anxiety with life changes. Even the good ones. My anxiety eventually leaves but takes months. I tried CBD Oils but it didnt help. So i am trying Spring Valley Gaba 750mg. It says to take only once a day.

        I see people saying take it at night but my anxiety usually leaves in the evening. My sleep is off and on.

        So i popped my 1st Gaba today. I literally did it 30 minutes ago. I will update.

  26. I have taken Gaba for the last month. I take it two hours before bed and sleep like a baby. I have just come off Mirtazapine and was finding it difficult to sleep as Mirtazapine helps with this. The Gaba tablets work a treat. I feel better in myself as well. So win , win for me.

    • Hi Anne
      Thanks for sharing your experience. It’s interesting to hear the GABA seems to help when you’ve stopped taking Mirtazapine. Did you decide to try it yourself, or was it recommended by a doctor?

      • Hi, Ethan and all!

        Any info about the potential interaction (blood pressure lowering) of beginning GABA while also taking CoQ10?

        Also, I just picked up of the Whole Foods brand and it is 750 mg, which seems a lot higher than other dosages/brands I’ve seen online. Any thoughts? I’m sensitive to things like melatonin, so I’m wondering if I should find a lower dose pill for my trial.

        Thanks for any info!


        • Hi Pat
          Unfortunately, I can’t help you with this one. I’ve never taken that supplement myself, nor done any research on it, so I don’t feel qualified to comment. One thing I will say about dosage though, is that if it’s anything like the many other supplements out there, I would imagine with some research you can find a lower dosage. And if you ever have concerns about taking any supplements, and combing them, run it by your doctor just to be on the safe side.

    • Hi,

      I am curious how long it took for you to see a noticeable difference in your sleep.

      I just started taking GABA, along with 5-HTP, yesterday. Of course, no noticeable difference in the quality of my sleep last night.

    • Hi there. I’m currently on Mirtazapine low dose of 15mg and I’m trying everything to fall asleep from temazepam which sometimes works to melatonin that gives me nightmares. At the moment I take Mirtazapine and 2.5mg of valium which helps sometimes. I want to come off my Mirtazapine eventually but can I take the GABA with Mirtazapine is that what you did? And now you are off Mirtazapine. I’m an insomniac and struggle to fall asleep. Once I’m asleep I’m ok if I wake up as I can go back to sleep no problem.

  27. If I take GABA and/or Eden supplements and had blood work done, could I possibly test positive for ambien if it was being tested for?

  28. hi Ethan. my chiropractor recommended gaba for stress. i’ve been taking it off and on for a little over a year. reco dosage is no more than 4 per day. i usually take 2 in am, and sometimes 1 in pm. maybe it’s psychological, but it seems to really help. if taken when i’m not active, it tends to make me a bit sleepy, so sometimes i’ll swtich dosage and take 2 before bed. my chiro said to watch for mood changes like depression and not to take it every day for long periods, advice which i heed.
    with my last purchase, supplier sent 2 sample pills of Eden (which contains gaba) for sleep, which is supposed to cross blood brain barrier (sounds scary). i tried it and it works great for sleeping. 1 pill 30 min before bed and i slept all night and woke up feeling great. 1 pill works better than 2 gaba because it’s supposed to be formulated for sleep as opposed to gaba for stress.
    i’ve taken melatonin and its ok, but the Eden may be for me when i have trouble sleeping, and no, i don’t work for the manufacturer :-). lots of people who review gaba say they take it every day for years, but i dont like that idea. i’m with you on lowest dose of anything and not playing doctor by increasing beyond reco dose. i just found your site and agree with the advice you give. very rational and thoughtful.
    thank you!

    • Hi Kathy
      Thanks for your comment, and kind words about the site!
      It’s interesting to hear your experience of GABA. I haven’t heard of Eden before (at least not the sleep aid!). To be honest, I’m not sure how they work out the different formulas for stress or sleep though.
      It sounds like you’re using it sensibly, and have a good attitude about not becoming dependent on it.

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