Melatonin & L-Theanine: Helping You Sleep

Sleep is vital for everyone. For cancer patients, insomnia is often ignored, but it can make the overall condition worse. This study explored the ability of melatonin and L-theanine to improve sleep in cancer patients suffering from insomnia.

120 people between the ages of 18 and 55 who had cancer and were struggling with insomnia were given either a placebo, 3 mg of melatonin or 200 mg of L-theanine 2 hours before bed for 2 weeks.

Melatonin is a well known natural sleep aid. It is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland during darkness that regulates the sleep-wake cycle and circadian rhythm. It effectively induces and maintains sleep. L-theanine is less well known, but no less exciting. It is an amino acid found almost uniquely in green tea. L-theanine improves calm by increasing alpha brain waves, which leads to relaxation and better focus, and deceasing beta brain waves, which reduces nervousness, hyperactivity and unfocussed thoughts. L-theanine will not put you to sleep, but it will improve your sleep.

The L-theanine worked better than the placebo, and the melatonin worked even better than the L-theanine.

Interestingly, this is the second recent study to demonstrate the power of melatonin in sick or hospitalized people. A recent comparison study with the drug trazadone found melatonin to be at least as good for hospitalized patients with insomnia (Hosp Pharm. 2023 Apr;58(2):165–170).

This new study adds to the evidence that melatonin and L-theanine are helpful supplements for insomnia and suggests that L-theanine is also beneficial for cancer patients with insomnia and that melatonin is even better still.

Indian J Palliat Care. 2024 Apr-Jun;30(2):176–181.

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For much more on treating insomnia naturally, see our book The Family Naturopathic Encyclopedia.

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The Natural Path is intended for educational purposes only and is in no way intended for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. For health problems, consult a qualified health practitioner for a comprehensive program.

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