Can Collagen Help You Sleep?
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You may have suspected that women, as compared to men, report an overall poorer sleep quality over their lifetime. Not only that, they also suffer from insomnia more than men. Women are always looking for a way to improve their sleep quality. Can collagen help you sleep?
Getting enough collagen in your diet can help avoid insomnia and some even believe consuming collagen at night can give you that elusive sound and restful sleep you've been seeking.
In this article, we'll look at:
- What collagen is in the body
- What collagen is composed of
- The magic amino acid in collagen that can help you get quality sleep
- How you can get more of this magic amino acid in your body
Let's get you on your way to a great night's sleep!
What is Collagen in the Body?
First, collagen is a protein that makes up approximately 30% of all the protein in your body.
As such, it is the most abundant protein in your body.
Second, collagen protein appears everywhere in your body and one place it's heavily concentrated is in your skin.
It's strong and flexible and is often called the 'scaffolding' or 'glue' that supports and holds the body together.
In addition to the skin, here are some of the other parts of your body that collagen appears:
- Gut lining
- Cartilage between joints
- Connective tissue
You start out out life with lots of collagen in your body. As you approach your 30s, the body starts to make less and less new collagen and creates a collagen deficit.
Not only that, during and after menopause you lose even more collagen, creating even a larger collagen deficit.
A lack of collagen shows up in the form of wrinkles, fine lines, sagging skin, achy joints, leaky gut, smaller muscles, weaker bones and collapsing arteries--just to name a few.
There are many factors that affect the quality and amount of collagen in the body. We spoke about the natural aging process, but also stress, too much sun, poor diet and smoking can also destroy collagen protein.
Importantly, you need to be aware that collagen protein is generated when you sleep.
Not only that, but collagen can also help you sleep.
Therefore, if you don't sleep enough, you could experience an earlier and higher collagen deficit.
What is Collagen Composed Of?
Collagen protein is known as a triple-helix protein because it has three chains of amino acids weaved together. It's these triple strands (also known as fibrils) that makes it so strong and flexible.
A good analogy is that these fibrils can be compared to the strands in the fabric of the clothes you wear which hold the garment together.
At a high level, the collagen strands are made from amino acids, specifically glycine, proline, alanine and hydroxyproline.
After the amino acids are connected, they are synthesized by vitamin C and zinc.
In other words, you can't have a collagen protein unless vitamin C and zinc are present.
The single most dominant amino acid in collagen is glycine.
Remember glycine because it's going to come up again...
What you need to know is that the amino acids found in collagen are generally deficient in our modern, western diet.
The reason? Because we don't consume animals from 'nose to tail' (every part of the animal) like our ancestors did.
For example, today, we don't tend to eat animal skin or small bones found in sardines or anchovies. Or boil the bones of animals for hours to extract the collagen and amino acids to create a nutritious bone broth.
As such, it's tough to get enough collagen and these specific amino acids in your diet.
Therefore, getting more collagen can help you sleep and help avoid insomnia.
The Magic Amino Acid For Sleep - Glycine
Remember how we talked about glycine and how it's highly concentrated in collagen? Well, as it turns out, studies show glycine can help you get that elusive restful sleep.
Let's talk more about how glycine and how it can help sleep and other benefits too!
Glycine is not only an amino acid but also a neurotransmitter. That means it has the ability to both stimulate the brain and nervous system or quiet it.
It's also been used for patients who have experienced the most common type of stroke.
These are the main functions of glycine in your body:
How Does Glycine Help You Sleep?
Glycine, an important amino acid in collagen, can help your sleep in a number of ways, including:
Typically you will get approximately 2 grams of glycine in your diet during the day.
How you Can Add Glycine to your Day
Glycine can be found in meat, fish, eggs, dairy (ever heard to drink a glass of warm milk before bed?), legumes, spinach, seaweed, watercress, asparagus and cabbage.
You can also get collagen in gelatin form. Gelatin is cooked collagen.
Although there's a debate about whether it's better to take collagen supplements in the morning or night. Given there's glycine in collagen, it might be better to take collagen before bed.
Glycine supplements are also readily available for purchase. Although most people can tolerate glycine supplements very well, some may experience nausea, vomiting, mild stomach upset or soft stools.
Generally, in scientific studies, 3-5 grams of glycine taken before bed has been used to help sleep.
Bone broth, made from the bones and joints of animals, is an excellent source of collagen protein and glycine.
It's easy to make bone broth at home, although very time-consuming.
Bone broth is also readily available online or in stores. It also comes in liquid form or powder form.
Are there side effects of taking collagen?
In general, there are no major side effects when taking collagen or drinking bone broth.
If there are any side effects, it's usually a feeling of fullness, bloating or sleepiness.
These side effects tend to be less with bone broth because it's a different chemical composition than a collagen supplement.
Now you know that collagen can help you sleep and why.
Glycine, an amino acid in collagen protein, has been shown to aid in falling asleep, staying asleep and getting a night of restful sleep.
Not only that but glycine is also known to have other functions such as monitoring blood sugar levels along with helping overall mood.
As always, we highly suggest you consult with a health care provider about glycine and if it might benefit your health and sleep. Especially if you are already taking medications.