L-Glutamine and the Sleep Connection

a peaceful illustration of a sleeping man

According to a 2020 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, 14.5% of adults have trouble falling asleep, and 17.8% have trouble staying asleep. With increasing age, adults were less likely to have difficulty falling asleep but more likely to have trouble staying asleep.

Sleep deficiency is linked to many chronic health problems, including:

  • Heart disease
  • Kidney disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Obesity
  • Depression

Should I Take L-Glutamine Before Bed?

From improving muscle recovery to fortifying gut health, this amino acid is gaining attention for its diverse benefits. This post will examine the potential use of glutamine before bed, its role, benefits, possible side effects, and impact on sleep.

a man peacefully asleep in bed

The Importance of Sleep for Your Health

The importance of sleep cannot be overstated when it comes to maintaining optimal health and wellness. Sleep is not merely a period of rest but a fundamental pillar supporting physical, mental, and emotional well-being. During sleep, the body undergoes crucial processes such as: 

Adequate sleep is intricately linked to mood regulation, cognitive function, and weight management. In pursuing a healthy and balanced lifestyle, prioritizing quality sleep is a non-negotiable. It serves as the cornerstone for overall vitality, resilience, and the body’s ability to navigate the challenges of everyday life. 

Recognizing the profound impact of a good night’s sleep on our health underscores the significance of incorporating sleep hygiene into our wellness routines, fostering a holistic approach to self-care.

embracing health through sleep illustrated

What is the Amino Acid Glutamine? 

Glutamine is one of the 20 amino acids that are proteins’ building blocks. While scientifically, it is known as one of the non-essential amino acids, it is classified as a conditionally essential amino acid. This means the body can usually produce enough under normal circumstances; however, there are situations where the demand for glutamine exceeds its ability to synthesize it, making it essential in those circumstances.

The body may require more glutamine in the following situations: 

  • Increased stress
  • Pregnancy
  • Infancy and growth
  • Increased muscle growth
  • Performance recovery
  • Illness
  • Wound healing

Protein Synthesis and Muscle Recovery

Glutamine plays a role in protein synthesis by serving as the bedrock for tissue and organ growth, repair, and maintenance. Glutamine contributes to the generation of new muscle fibers. This process occurs during sleep, fostering muscle growth and enhanced strength. 

Beyond muscle building, glutamine might also play a role in slowing down muscle breakdown and potentially accelerating metabolism. This subtle boost in metabolism, coupled with the preservation of muscle mass facilitated by glutamine, may contribute to an increase in lean body mass, toning, and weight loss.

Immune Function Support

Glutamine is like a fuel for our immune cells, lymphocytes, macrophages, and neutrophils. These immune cells take in glutamine and convert it into glutamate, aspartate, and CO2. Glutamine boosts T-cell growth, B-lymphocyte action, and other immune functions. Glutamine leads to healthy immune cells, keeping our immune system in top-notch shape.

Gut Health

Glutamine aids in repairing and maintaining the intestinal lining, reducing permeability and supporting a healthy barrier function. The condition of a leaky gut, where the digestive tract lining becomes compromised allowing harmful substances to enter the bloodstream, can lead to inflammation and various health issues. 

L-glutamine supplementation may assist in reducing intestinal permeability by fostering the repair and regeneration of the mucosal lining, potentially alleviating symptoms and enhancing overall gastrointestinal well-being. 

Energy Source

The body’s demand for glutamine escalates in specific demanding scenarios, such as intense physical exertion or the recuperation phase post-injury or illness. Beyond its role in protein synthesis, immune support, and gut health, glutamine transforms into a versatile energy source for cells. 

This adaptive quality positions glutamine as a dynamic player in the body’s response to heightened energy needs.

sleeping energy source

Sources of Glutamine

Glutamine is found in protein-rich foods like:

  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Dairy products
  • Beans, peas, and lentils 

However, individuals with specific dietary restrictions, those not eating enough protein, or those aiming for targeted support from L-glutamine to heal the gut may consider L-glutamine supplements under the guidance of a healthcare professional. 

Forms of Glutamine

Glutamine exists in various forms, each with distinct applications and properties. L-glutamine, the most common form, is a conditionally essential amino acid critical for protein synthesis, immune system support, and overall cellular function.

D-glutamine, a mirror image of L-glutamine, has limited biological significance compared to its counterpart and is not typically found in natural biological systems. 

Another notable form is glutamate, the counterpart of glutamic acid, which is transformed from dietary glutamic acid in foods. Understanding the different forms of glutamine provides valuable insights into their roles and applications in various physiological processes, contributing to the broader understanding of their impact on health and wellness.

Glutamine Supplements

The most common form of glutamine supplement is L-glutamine. L-glutamine is the naturally occurring form of the amino acid glutamine and is typically used in dietary supplements. It is the biologically active form of glutamine. 

L-glutamine is widely available as powders, capsules, and liquid supplements. Athletes often use it for muscle recovery, and it is also utilized by individuals seeking potential benefits for immune function, gut health, and other physiological processes. 

When considering glutamine supplements, choosing high-quality products from reputable sources is crucial, and consulting with a healthcare professional before incorporating new supplements into your routine is advisable.

Relaxed woman enjoying a restful sleep

The Role of L-Glutamine in Sleep

Achieving quality sleep is often considered the holy grail for overall well-being. While the market is flooded with sleep aids and remedies, an intriguing player, L-glutamine, has entered the scene. This amino acid, known for its multifaceted benefits, is gaining attention for its potential to support and enhance sleep quality. While the evidence indicates it may be an inadvertent relationship, taking L-glutamine before bed may help you catch those extra z’s. 

Stress Reduction

L-glutamine has been associated with stress reduction, a crucial factor in promoting relaxation and preparing the body for sleep. Stress, whether physical or mental, can significantly impact sleep quality. By reducing stress, L-glutamine may contribute to a more peaceful transition into a restful night of slumber.

Neurotransmitter Regulation

Neurotransmitters play a pivotal role in our sleep-wake cycle. As a precursor to the neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), L-glutamine has potential calming effects on the central nervous system. Increased GABA levels are linked to relaxation and a sense of calm, creating an environment conducive to quality sleep.

Muscle Relaxation

Beyond its impact on the nervous system, L-glutamine’s role in muscle relaxation is noteworthy. Tense muscles can disrupt the sleep experience, leading to discomfort and restlessness. L-glutamine’s ability to decrease muscle tension may contribute to a more comfortable and restorative sleep.

Improves Gut Health

The gut-brain connection is a fascinating aspect of overall health, and L-glutamine plays a crucial role in maintaining gut integrity. A healthy gut contributes to a balanced production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that influences mood and sleep. Thus, by promoting gut health, L-glutamine indirectly supports a positive impact on sleep quality.

L-Glutamine and Growth Hormone

L-glutamine exhibits intriguing connections to growth hormone release and sleep. Research suggests that L-glutamine may stimulate growth hormone secretion, a key player in cellular repair and growth, particularly during deep sleep cycles. 

Growth hormone is vital for muscle development, tissue repair, and rejuvenation. L-glutamine facilitates protein synthesis and contributes to the availability of amino acids necessary for growth hormone production. 

This interaction underscores the potential of L-glutamine in supporting gut function and promoting optimal sleep patterns and the natural release of growth hormone, fostering a holistic approach to overall health and well-being.

How to Incorporate L-Glutamine for Better Sleep

Taking L-glutamine before bedtime is typical for those seeking its potential sleep benefits. Starting with a lower dose and gradually increasing it allows individuals to gauge their body’s response. While there is no scientific approach to the best time to take L-glutamine, personal experimentation with timing and dosage will help you find the most effective routine.

How Much L-Glutamine Should I Take?

L-glutamine dosage can vary based on your health condition, age, weight, and specific health goals. It is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional, preferably a registered dietitian or a doctor, for personalized advice. 

The recommended dosage may vary depending on the reason for taking it, such as gut health, immune system support, or athletic performance. The observed safe level (OSL) for L-glutamine is up to 14 grams per day.

Combine L-Glutamine With a Holistic Approach

While L-glutamine shows promise in promoting quality sleep, it’s essential to integrate its use with other healthy sleep practices. This includes maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, creating a conducive sleep environment, and limiting stimulants, such as screens, close to bedtime.

Combine L-Glutamine With a Holistic Approach

Understand L-Glutamine Side Effects

L-glutamine is generally considered safe; some individuals may experience mild symptoms such as gastrointestinal discomfort or allergic reactions. Consulting a healthcare professional before starting any supplementation is advisable.

Dosage Guidelines for L-Glutamine Supplementation

Determining the proper dosage of L-Glutamine varies. Safe dosage ranges from 5 to 14 grams daily, divided into two or three doses. It’s advisable to start with a lower dose and gradually increase it while monitoring for adverse reactions.

Additional Amino Acids That May Help

Exploring additional amino acids and their relationship to sleep may be of benefit if you struggle to get a solid 7-8 hours of sleep per night.  

Tryptophan is a precursor to serotonin, a neurotransmitter closely linked to mood regulation and sleep-wake cycles. By consuming tryptophan-rich foods like turkey, chicken, and nuts, individuals may support the production of serotonin, promoting a sense of relaxation and contributing to better sleep. 

Another noteworthy amino acid is glycine, known for its calming effect on the nervous system. In protein-containing foods and collagen supplements, glycine may help improve sleep quality by reducing body temperature and promoting a more tranquil state of mind. 

Additionally, the amino acid theanine, abundant in green tea, has gained attention for its ability to induce relaxation without causing drowsiness. 

Final Thoughts for Sweet Dreams

In the quest for a good night’s sleep, exploring the potential benefits of L-glutamine is an intriguing avenue. As a versatile amino acid with known stress-reducing and muscle-relaxing properties, L-glutamine has the potential to influence sleep quality positively. 

By combining the benefits of L-glutamine with a holistic approach to sleep hygiene, individuals can unlock the secrets to a more restful and rejuvenating night’s sleep. Sweet dreams await those who embark on this journey toward better sleep with L-glutamine.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can L-glutamine help with sleep?

Research suggests that L-glutamine may contribute to better sleep by promoting the production of neurotransmitters like GABA and supporting gut health, which is linked to sleep regulation.

What is the recommended dosage of L-glutamine for improving sleep?

While individual needs vary, a standard recommendation is around 500 to 1,000 mg of L-glutamine taken before bedtime to potentially aid in sleep quality. However, consulting with a healthcare professional for personalized advice is essential.

Does L-glutamine affect the release of growth hormone during sleep?

Some studies suggest that L-glutamine may stimulate the release of growth hormone, which plays a crucial role in promoting cellular repair and overall growth during deep sleep cycles.

Are there any potential side effects of taking L-glutamine for sleep?

L-glutamine is generally considered safe when used in recommended amounts, but excessive intake may lead to adverse effects such as stomach cramps or nausea. Following dosage guidelines and consulting with a healthcare provider is crucial to ensure safe use.

References

April Bruns | Registered Dietitian | ACE Personal Trainer

April Bruns | Registered Dietitian | ACE Personal Trainer

April is a registered dietitian and freelance health and wellness writer. She holds a BS in Food Science and Human Nutrition from Washington State University. She works as a private practice dietitian specializing in weight loss, gut health, and functional fitness.

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