Do you have trouble getting to sleep? Or staying asleep? You’re not alone.
Sleeping a solid 7 to 9 hours every night should be the most natural thing in the world.
But insomnia has become an epidemic. And modern medicine does very little to help you restore natural rest. Big Pharma’s answer is to knock you out with drugs. That’s not the same as sleep.
“Sleep aids” like Ambien, Lunesta, and others cause dizziness, headache, depression and anxiety. They can lead to suicidal thoughts, memory loss and hallucinations. Some people report sleep-walking, and even unconscious sleep-eating or sleep-driving.1
And come morning the drug is still in your system. You can feel hung over and groggy instead of rested.
I don’t prescribe those drugs. Instead I help my patients restore rest with Nature’s “sleep trigger.” It signals your body that it’s all right to rest and drop off for the night.
I’m talking about the amino acid, glycine…
Your brain has receptors specifically for glycine. It helps your neurotransmitters keep you calm and balanced — instead of stressed.2 In other words, it triggers your brain to relax, so you can rest and fall asleep soundly.
Glycine also triggers an important start to your sleep cycle. It sends brain signals that reduce core body temperature. We need that temperature drop to get to sleep and stay asleep.
In one study researchers in Japan gave 15 women with sleep complaints either 3,000 mg of glycine or a placebo before bed. The glycine group slept better. The next morning, they were better able to shake off their fatigue than the placebo group. They also scored much higher for “liveliness and peppiness,” as well as “clear-headedness.” 3
In another study, researchers from the Ohta Memorial Sleep Center in Japan also gave people complaining of poor sleep 3,000 mg of glycine before bedtime. The glycine helped to:4
- Improve sleep quality
- Increase sleep time
- shorten the time it took to fall asleep
- improve “slow-wave sleep” — the deepest, most restful stage of sleep
- lessen daytime sleepiness
- improve memory
Other research proves that glycine also helps you think faster and more clearly during the day. In one study, 12 people who had no sleep problems took 9,000 mg of glycine before bed. It didn’t make them sleepy during the day, but it did have one side effect. Their memories improved!5
Our primal ancestors regularly ate the best food sources of glycine — bones, ligaments, skin and cartilage. They made stews and soups using the joints, skin, stomach, feet, and tail of a fresh kill.
Today we buy boneless, skinless cuts of chicken and beef. That means we’re missing out on the amino acid that helps restore our natural sleep trigger.
You can always supplement with glycine. I recommend 3,000 mg every night before bed.
But the best way to get glycine is to make a bone stock with the bones, neck, tendons, feet and even tails of animals. Here’s the recipe I use. It takes time but not a lot of work.
Primal Chicken Bone Broth
- 4 pounds chicken parts including bones, neck, feet and wings
- 3 carrots, chopped
- 3 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 medium onion, quartered
- 6 garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
- 4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 bay leaves
- 18-20 cups cold water
- Place all ingredients in a 10 quart stock pot. Cover with water.
- Let sit for around 60 minutes. Bring the pot to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.
- Skim off any impurities that rise to the top. When nothing else rises to the top, add water to keep the level just above the bones.
- Simmer for 15 to 24 hours. Then turn up the heat just a bit for the final simmer-down. This will concentrate the nutrients. Let simmer for another hour or two.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Discard solids and strain remainder through a colander. Let stock cool to room temperature, cover and chill.
- Use your bone stock for soups, stews, sauces or meat gravy. Or drink it like a tea.
Another great way to get glycine naturally is to eat cuts of meat that include the bone — like a bone-in ribeye or a T-bone steak. Short ribs, osso buco and oxtail are also good sources of glycine.
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD, CNS
1. McNamara M. “Ambien may prompt sleep-eating.” www.cbsnews.com. March 15, 2006.
2. Nikandrov V, Balashevich T. “Glycine receptors in nervous tissue and their functional role.” Biomed Khim. 2014 Jul-Aug.
3. Inagawa K, Hiraoka T, Kohda T, Yamadera W, Takahashi M. “Subjective effects of glycine ingestion before bedtime on sleep quality.” Sleep and Biological Rhythms. 9 February 2006.
4. Yamadera W., et. al. “Glycine ingestion improves subjective sleep quality in human volunteers, correlating with polysomnographic changes.” Sleep and Biological Rhythms. 27 March 2007.
5. File S, Fluck E, Fernandes C. “Beneficial effects of glycine (bioglycin) on memory and attention in young and middle-aged adults.” J Clin Psychopharmacol. 1999 Dec.