1… 2… 3… 4… How many of us have tried counting sheep, or other things that never seem to work, just to get some sleep at night? Sleeplessness can strike a person for a good many reasons, including: worry or fretting, stress or anxiety, racing thoughts, sleep cycles being off kilter, and even due to being tired, among other things. However, there are two natural things you can do to help you sleep: take certain amino acids, and perform certain breathing exercises.
Studies cited at the end of this post show that increasing oxygen levels through deep breathing exercises, contrary to popular belief, can actually help induce sleep rather than wake you up. This is due to the connection with CO2 (carbon dioxide) levels in the body, which I will go into later. Interestingly, amino acids can also help relieve sleeplessness. Two of the common 22 amino acids, in particular, are able help calm the mind and induce rest in a weary but aggravated body.
Oxygen, and amino acids for serotonin
Adults lacking in sleep health were studied and given relaxation techniques, including deep breathing exercises. After being informed of these easy activities at bedtime, they had higher rates of continued use. Deep breathing exercises aside, it is not just increasing oxygen levels alone that help you relax and slumber, but reducing CO2 levels in the body.
Amino acids actually play a vital role in this process. In a fascinating cross-species study that compared plants, insects, animals, and humans, the levels of CO2 and anxiety were investigated. Anyone who has woken up in the night due to a panic attack knows what I am speaking about here. CO2 levels are higher in correspondence with anxiety or negative emotions.
There is a neurological ‘fear circuit’ that is not entirely understood, but evidence reviewed on the amino acid GABA (gamma-amino butyric acid) may help modulate anxiety that is CO2 induced. That is, if you take the GABA amino acid, it could help calm the mind and reduce worry so you can sleep.
GABA and tryptophan are commonly available as supplements for sleep health. So breathe deeply and reduce the amount of CO2 in your body, plus take amino acid GABA and/or tryptophan to complement this for a good night’s rest.