Not being able to sleep at night can make you feel like a zombie, dragging yourself through life with no joy, motivation, or energy to do anything. Does this sound familiar? If so, it’s probably because you’re one of the 70 million adults in the United States suffering from some sort of sleep disorder .
Rather than resorting to prescription medications, which can come with a whole slew of side effects, or dubious sleep tactics that don’t always work (who came up with counting sheep, anyway?), glycine may be the chill pill your brain needs to help you fall asleep.
This article delves into the uses of glycine for sleep, telling you everything you need to know about this mighty little amino acid. Keep reading to discover how to use glycine to get the best night’s sleep.
But before we get into it, let us introduce you to Pzizz-an innovative app that utilizes research-supported techniques to assist you with falling asleep faster. It includes specific modes for sleeping and napping that play personalized soundscapes to help you fall asleep quickly and naturally with just one tap. Try Pzizz for free by downloading it today.
Glycine is an amino acid that helps you sleep, in addition to many other functions. It is the most abundant of the 20 amino acids naturally produced in the body and is used to create proteins, including collagen, essential for the growth and maintenance of connective tissues, bones, cartilage, and blood vessels, and for hormone, antioxidant, and enzyme production.
Although the body can produce glycine on its own, many people may turn to protein-rich food sources or dietary supplements to ensure sufficient levels to aid in various bodily functions and processes.
Some of the health benefits of glycine include:
Natural sources of glycine include fish, meat, dairy, eggs, and legumes.
Considering all that it does to keep our body’s systems, structure, and overall health in check, we really have been sleeping on the powerful abilities of glycine, particularly for boosting our bedtime zzzs.
In fact, a 2012 study found that people with higher levels of the amino acid experienced reduced daytime sleepiness and related cognitive inefficiency . Moreover, in a 2007 study, volunteers who took 3 grams of glycine before bed fell asleep more quickly, had fewer insomnia symptoms, and experienced improved sleep quality by getting deeper and more restful sleep .
But exactly how does glycine make you sleepy?
Well, in addition to its wide-ranging functions, glycine also acts as a neurotransmitter (a chemical messenger to you and me) with the ability to both stimulate and inhibit brain and nervous system activity. More specifically, the mechanisms of glycine for sleep include the following:
By slowing down activity between neurons, glycine effectively reduces anxiety and prevents overstimulation in the brain, thereby making it less responsive to stimuli and fostering a calming environment to positively influence sleep quality.
In particular, the hormone orexin regulates sleep-wake cycles by inducing arousal, alertness, and attentiveness. Glycine prevents orexin neurons from firing in order to block wake-promoting activity within the brain and subsequently promote sleep .
Body temperature and sleep are inextricably linked. In the run-up to bedtime, the body’s core temperature declines gradually, dropping by about one-degree celsius during the night. Conversely, the core temperature rises again in the final two hours of sleep to promote wakefulness.
Due to a disrupted circadian rhythm (the inner body clock that follows a 24-hour cycle), people with insomnia and other sleep issues have core body temperature fluctuations that aren’t in harmony with their sleep and wake times. Glycine acts on receptors within the area of the brain responsible for regulating circadian rhythms. Subsequently, it helps to reduce body temperature by dilating blood vessels and increasing blood flow to the skin’s surface to remove heat from the core.
In fact, studies have shown that the effects of glycine are comparable to those of common sleep prescription medications in reducing core body temperature to promote sleep  .
Serotonin is often labeled the ‘feel-good’ hormone owing to its ability to increase feelings of pleasure, satisfaction, and general well-being. It is also a precursor for the sleep hormone melatonin, which is responsible for controlling sleep-wake cycles as part of the body’s circadian rhythm. People lacking serotonin spend less time in deep, restorative sleep and have higher rates of insomnia and depression, according to a 2007 study .
Taking glycine orally has been proven to increase serotonin production, thereby encouraging healthy sleep cycles by facilitating melatonin synthesis. Moreover, it can help restore disrupted sleep cycles resulting from jet lag or working night shifts .
Glycine can help you move more quickly into, and spend more time in, restorative slow-wave sleep, otherwise known as the deep and REM sleep stages.
By stabilizing sleep rhythms, glycine helps improve sleep quality; as a result, daytime alertness and cognitive performance are enhanced, even in cases when sleep is restricted. Moreover, glycine doesn’t disrupt sleep architecture or cause daytime grogginess and fatigue, unlike many pharmaceutical drugs with the same mechanism.
Besides food sources, glycine is available as a dietary supplement in the form of capsules and pills. The powder form dissolves easily in water and can be incorporated into your diet by adding it to your tea, coffee, yogurts, oatmeal, soups, or smoothies.
Although it is safe to take glycine on its own to help address problematic sleep issues, it’s important to note that supplementing with glycine alone can disrupt the delicate balance of amino acids in the brain and body.
Moreover, research suggests glycine is absorbed less efficiently on its own than when bound to other amino acids . For this reason, taking a complete set of essential amino acid supplements that contain sufficient glycine amounts in the formulation may be helpful.
Based on studies, a 3-5 gram dosage range of glycine is sufficient to induce sleep effectively; the best time to take glycine is around 1-2 hours before bed.
Glycine is generally well-tolerated by healthy adults, with one study indicating that up to 90 grams per day is safe to take for several weeks . Moreover, it doesn’t produce the same side effects as prescription sleeping aids, such as daytime fatigue, cognitive impairment, or withdrawal symptoms caused by addiction.
However, always consult your doctor before taking any supplements if you’re on prescription medications or have preexisting health conditions. Those taking Clozapine, a medication used to treat insomnia, should be aware that glycine may reduce its effectiveness.
Some reported potential side effects of glycine include stomach upset, nausea, vomiting, and soft stools.
If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s best to avoid taking glycine as there is currently insufficient evidence to confirm its safety for these groups.
Introducing a sleep app like Pzizz to your bedtime routine may be just what you need to accomplish uninterrupted bedtime bliss.
Using a variety of clinically-tested techniques, Pzizz’s patented system plays a mix of sleep-optimized music, voiceovers, and sound effects-known as ‘dreamscapes’-to help users sleep better at night and take naps during the day.
These sound blends are designed to effectively quieten the mind, help you fall asleep, stay asleep, and wake up the next morning feeling refreshed – making it one of the most useful apps for people struggling with insomnia. Not to mention, some of the most successful people in their prospective fields attest to the sleep-inducing benefits of Pzizz.
Observing good sleep hygiene involves adopting healthy habits, behaviors, and environmental factors to help you get a good night’s sleep. For example:
Regular meditation and mindfulness can help alleviate stress and anxiety, which can often prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep. Such techniques quieten the mind and help the body to relax, fostering a sense of inner peace. In fact, one 2015 study found that adults with sleep problems who practiced meditation were able to fall asleep faster than those who didn’t .
To make the process easier, you may choose to follow a guided practice through the Mesmerize app to help you calm your mind and relax. The unique audio-visual experience can help you achieve better sleep through expertly-crafted guided meditations, nature sounds, white noise, and sleep stories based on scientific evidence.
Through consistent use, not only can Mesermize help improve your quality of sleep, but it can also have a profound impact on your overall life. Why not give it a try today and see for yourself?
Download Mesmerize from the App Store or Google Play to enjoy your free trial.
Several studies over the years have confirmed the positive impact of physical exercise on sleep quality. For instance, a 2019 meta-analysis of 29 studies confirmed that exercise increased sleep efficiency and duration, regardless of the type of activity .
Another 2021 study found that 60 minutes of exercise 4-5 times a week can reduce symptoms of insomnia in as little as eight weeks .
With that said, it’s important to avoid exercise too close to your bedtime as it can release hormones that promote alertness and wakefulness, thereby preventing you from falling asleep.
After a poor night’s sleep, it can be tempting to take a long nap the following day to compensate for lost zzzs. Although catching up on your sleep during the day sounds like a good idea, it can wreak havoc on your natural sleep-wake cycle, pulling you further into a downward spiral of sleepless nights.
If daytime sleepiness is something that you’re seriously struggling with, then try to limit your naps to 20 minutes or less to feel refreshed without disturbing your nighttime sleep. Napping for any longer than this time will cause you to enter deep sleep, leaving you feeling groggy and disorientated upon waking and decreasing your drive to sleep at night.
Additionally, it’s important not to nap too late in the day as the body’s drive toward deep sleep increases steadily as the day goes on, making it much more difficult to fall asleep at night. Therefore, keep your naptimes as early in the afternoon as possible.
Studies suggest that glycine uptakes into the brain around 30 minutes after ingestion. Taking 3 grams of glycine orally around 30 minutes to one hour before bed is most effective in inducing sleep faster and remaining asleep throughout the night.
Glycine can stabilize sleeping patterns to reduce symptoms of insomnia and improve sleep quality without causing sleepiness and fatigue during the day, unlike many pharmaceutical sleep aids. This benefit extends to better mental performance the following day, even in cases when sleep is restricted.
Studies confirm it is safe to take a daily dose of up to 90 grams of glycine for several weeks without the risk of serious side effects. However, the recommended dose to improve sleep quality is 3-5 grams per day for healthy adults.
There is little research on the long-term use of glycine; however, there is some evidence to suggest that long-term supplementation with high amounts of glycine may be toxic to nerve tissue. Seek advice from your doctor or healthcare provider before considering taking glycine supplements in the long term.