1. Cognitive Enhancement
L-Theanine is popular among students for its ability to enhance focus and memory. Unlike many other supplements used for boosting study efforts, L-Theanine is non-stimulating. In fact, L-Theanine is more of a relaxant than anything else, helping to reduce hyperactivity in the nervous system.
Some people are worried that the relaxing effects of L-Theanine will hurt their ability to study efficiently - however, this couldn’t be further from the truth. The effects of L-Theanine are best described as producing a clear-headed focus. By eliminating much of the hyperactivity in the brain (through glutamate antagonism), and increasing dopamine activity (dopamine reuptake inhibition), L-Theanine is able to provide powerful improvements on focus and attention. A lot of users report better decision making, faster memory recall, and less mental fatigue while studying.
2. Relaxation & Sleep
L-Theanine is well known for its ability to support healthy sleep — especially in those who find it difficult falling asleep. This supplement isn’t considered a sedative because it doesn’t force our brains to shut down, instead, it simply helps cut out a lot of the noise going on in our brains long enough for us to get a chance to sleep.
The shape of L-Theanine closely resembles one of the primary stimulating neurotransmitters in our brain - glutamate. When brain activity is elevated, during states of panic, anxiety, or other forms of stimulation - glutamate activity is high.
L-Theanine is able to bind to the glutamate receptors in the brain, thus blocking the real glutamate from binding instead. This reduces the effects of glutamate in the brain, helping us relax and shut down our minds at the end of the day.
Often this is enough for people to relax enough to get a good night's rest.
3. Combating the Negative Side-Effects of Caffeine
One of the most popular uses of L-Theanine is to combine it with your morning coffee. The relaxing effects of the L-Theanine directly counteract many of the negative side-effects produced by caffeine without negating any of the benefits of the caffeine itself.
Caffeine works by inhibiting the activity of adenosine in the brain — which builds up throughout the day to make us feel tired at the end of the day.
One of the downsides of caffeine is that it stimulates our adrenergic system — often more than we’d like. The side-effects include a dramatic increase in glutamate activity in the brain — leading to a rapid heart and breath rate, muscle spasticity, and anxiety.
L-Theanine works to reduce the activity of glutamate in the brain directly by outcompeting it — thus reducing the direct side-effects of this neurotransmitter.