Theanine and Lemon Balm: How Can They Improve My Sleep Quality?
L-theanine and lemon balm are powerful nutrients that are often overlooked when it comes to natural sleep remedies. Often used as herbal remedies for anxiety — these compounds have also been found to be particularly beneficial in aiding relaxation. But how can they be used effectively to improve your sleep quality? This article will explore the benefits of using L-theanine and lemon balm together as a natural aid to improve sleep hygiene.
What is L-theanine?
Traditionally found in tea, L-theanine is an amino acid that has been found to support relaxation in the body.i However, unlike valerian root, L-theanine is not a sedative, and can be ingested without feeling the effects of drowsiness.i
What does L-theanine do in the body?
L-theanine encourages relaxation and supports sleep by facilitating several changes in the brain. Results from animal studies have shown that L-theanine increases levels of the neurotransmitters gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA), serotonin and dopamine — compounds that work to regulate mood, emotion and sleep.ii By increasing levels of these soothing brain chemicals, L-theanine may therefore also support sleep in humans.
L-theanine also lowers ‘excitatory’ neurotransmitters in the body.iii These brain chemicals are often associated with stress and feeling overwhelmed. When you have an excess in the body, you may experience anxiety and nervousness, which may prevent you achieving restful sleep.
A review of five randomised-controlled human studies highlighted L-theanine’s soothing properties, with researchers finding that decreased anxiety in those who were faced with stressful situations.iv Another study corroborated these findings, highlighting that L-theanine increased tranquillity and reduced resting heart rate.v
How should I take L-theanine?
L-theanine is a natural constituent in green and black tea. To increase your L-theanine intake and support sleep, try drinking a couple of cups each day. That said, avoiding drinking tea too close to bedtime, as it still contains caffeine. If you are taking L-theanine orally, however, you should take it 30-50 minutes before bed, as this is when it will reach the maximal concentration in your blood.v
What is lemon balm?
Lemon balm is herb in the mint family which has long been used to support cognitive and mood function. By soothing symptoms of anxiety and stress, lemon balm is widely recognised as having properties to support sleep.
How does lemon balm work?
In a pilot study, researchers found that lemon balm supported the production of the neurotransmitter, GABA, which helps to control the body’s response to stress.vi This confirmed the findings of an earlier double-blind, placebo-controlled study, revealing that lemon balm reduced laboratory-induced psychological stress.vii Subjects who were given the lemon balm described increased feelings of calmness.
Beyond reducing stress, lemon balm may also be used to manage symptoms of nervousness and anxiety. One study tested the mood-enhancing effects of foods containing lemon balm.viii Researchers mixed a lemon balm supplement into a drink or yoghurt and gave it to participants. Impressively, the active lemon balm treatments were linked to improvements in mood and cognition, including reduced levels of anxiety.
A recent clinical trial also highlighted how lemon balm may relieve anxiety and sleep disturbances. 20 volunteers suffering from sleep disturbances and anxiety received 300mg of lemon balm extract twice a day — once in the morning, and once in the evening. After 15 days of treatment, those who received the lemon balm reported a 39% decrease in insomnia and a 49% reduction in anxiety.ix
Various studies have shown that when lemon balm is combined with other calming herbs, like valerian or L-theanine, it may encourage quality sleep. For instance, in a study on children who experienced sleep troubles, researchers discovered that a combination of valerian and lemon balm resulted in a 70 to 80 per cent improvement in symptoms.x
Like L-theanine, lemon balm facilitates sleep by encouraging relaxation and decreasing stress and anxiety. You can steep dried lemon balm in hot water and drink it as tea. To aid sleep, aim for ¼ - 1 tsp. of lemon balm up to 4 times daily.
Can I take L-theanine and lemon balm together?
Together, L-theanine and lemon balm can be a powerful remedy for stress and anxiety. By supporting calm and relaxation, these two natural agents can effectively prepare the body for restful sleep.
To ensure a high-potency dose of both nutrients, we recommend taking our Theanine and Lemon Balm Complex, with 200mg L-theanine and 600mg lemon balm extract at relevant doses. Many companies choose to sell the less active D-form extracted from tea, however, we insist on the pure L-theanine form, which is made to GMP standards. To support sleep, take two tablets daily with a meal.
If you’re looking to reduce anxiety, promote relaxation, and improve your sleep quality, L-theanine and lemon balm are two of the best herbs reported to help. You may also want to consider adding magnesium, sour cherry juice, and valerian to your diet.
To learn more about how you can improve your sleep hygiene, feel free to read the articles in our dedicated sleep health resources.
Nobre. C., Rao. A. & Owen. G.N. (2019). L-theanine, a natural constituent in tea, and its effect on mental state. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. S1(17).
Nathan. P., Lu. K., et al. (2006). The Neuropharmacology of L-Theanine(N-Ethyl-L-Glutamine). Journal of Herbal Pharmacotherapy. 6(2), 21-30.
Yoto. A., Motoki. M., Murao. S., et al. (2012). Effects of L-theanine or caffeine intake on changes in blood pressure under physical and psychological stresses. J Physiol Anthropol. 31:28.
Everett. J.M., Gunathilake. D., et al. (2016). Theanine consumption, stress and anxiety in human clinical trials: A systematic review. Journal of Nutrition & Intermediary Metabolism. 4, 41-42.
Williams. J., Kellett. J., et al. (2016). L-Theanine as a Functional Food Additive: Its Role in Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Beverages. 2(2), 13.
Cases. J., Ibarra. A., et al. (2010). Pilot trial of Melissa officinalis L. leaf extract in the treatment of volunteers suffering from mild-to-moderate anxiety disorders and sleep disturbances. Mediterranean Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism. 4(3), 211-218. Available online: Pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Kennedy. D., Little. W. & Scholey. A.. (2004). Attenuation of Laboratory-Induced Stress in Humans After Acute Administration of Melissa officinalis (Lemon Balm). Psychosomatic Medicine. 66(4), 607-613.
Daniells. S. (2019). Berkem builds science to support anti-stress ingredient. Available online: https://www.nutraingredients.com/Article/2007/03/22/Berkem-builds-science-to-support-anti-stress-ingredient?id=75166-berkem-lemon-balm-extract-stress-anxiety
Scholey. A., Gibbs. A., et al. (2014). Anti-Stress Effects of Lemon Balm-Containing Foods. Nutrients. 6(11), 4805-4821.
Müller. S. & Klement. S. (2006). A combination of valerian and lemon balm is effective in the treatment of restlessness and dyssomnia in children. Phytomedicine. 13(6), 383-387.
Olivia Salter has always been an avid health nut. After graduating from the University of Bristol, she began working for a nutritional consultancy where she discovered her passion for all things wellness-related. There, she executed much of the company’s content marketing strategy and found her niche in health writing, publishing articles in Women’s Health, Mind Body Green, Thrive and Psychologies.