Theanine is the active component in green tea responsible not only for its taste, but also for its relaxing effects. It was demonstrated in humans that 40 minutes after taking theanine (50 mg to 200 mg) relaxing alpha waves were generated in various brain regions, lasting up to 12 hours. Theanine is also derivative of glutamic acid, a neurotransmitter naturally found in your brain.
Cognitive Performance and Focus
It has been shown that theanine’s influence of the alpha activity produces a relaxed, yet non-drowsy state of mind. This has recently been shown in the ability to focus on a given task over a period of time – the opposite of being attention deficit.
The ability to sustain mental focus is partly due to brain activation or stimulation, and partly due to the activation that occurs when adequate “relaxed mental reserves” are in place. Many nutrients like B vitamins support brain activation.
Studies indicate that theanine is helpful for maintaining a more relaxed, yet focused state of awareness that is conducive to learning. At the same time, the nutrient helps protect against factors that cause brain stress.
Theanine and Sleep
Theanine does not make you drowsy, sleepy or tired when taken during the day. However, part of preparing your mind to go into deeper sleep is first getting into a more relaxed state. Once you are relaxed you are more likely to enter brain wave states associated with deeper sleep.
Various stressors tend to rev up or wind up your nerves, and tend to keep you up even when you may be physically tired. The wear and tear of such stress tends to deplete the “relaxed reserves” in your nervous system.
Taking theanine during the day may help you be more relaxed when you arrive at bedtime, and taking some before bedtime may also help you to relax so that you find it easier to get to sleep and stay asleep.