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Ashwagandha For Sleep: Can It Help With Insomnia?

  • Ashwagandha can improve sleep quality and reduce sleep latency by calming GABA receptors in the brain.
  • Studies suggest ashwagandha reduces stress and anxiety, contributing to better sleep.
  • Timing and dosage are crucial; taking ashwagandha earlier in the evening with food aids in falling asleep, while taking it before bed may prevent waking in the middle of the night.
  • Ashwagandha should be part of a holistic approach to improving sleep hygiene, including lifestyle changes and creating a conducive sleep environment.
  • Potential side effects of ashwagandha include nausea, headache, and drowsiness, but it's generally safe for most individuals.
  • Other herbs like chamomile, valerian root, and L-theanine can complement ashwagandha in promoting relaxation and better sleep.

Ashwagandha (withania somnifera) is an adaptogen that is famous for improving many aspects of health and wellbeing.

It’s been used for millennia in ayurvedic medicine for increasing energy & endurance, helping with mood, naturally boosting testosterone - and yes, improving sleep.

Below we cover everything you need to know about the many effects Ashwagandha can have on your sleep, the best time to take it and a few key points you need to consider.

    ashwagandha for sleep

    Ashwagandha Benefits for Sleep

    There have been studies that have found that ashwagandha isn’t only believed to help us fall asleep, but it can help with sleep latency (falling asleep faster) and improve overall sleep quality. It does this by calming GABA (Gamma Amino Butyric Acid) receptors in the brain.

    However, most of the studies have been conducted on rodents which means there isn’t a great deal of evidence supporting its effectiveness on the human brain. With that being said, one randomized placebo-controlled study with humans consisting of test subjects taking ashwagandha extract throughout the day noted an improvement in sleep, even though that wasn’t the point of the study!

    One of the reasons why ashwagandha is believed to help you sleep better is actually owed to the fact that it can reduce stress and anxiety. Another randomized double-blind, placebo controlled study found that anxiety sufferers who took 300mg of ashwagandha twice a day saw a consistent improvement in their quality of sleep and sleep onset latency.

    All of these studies provide fairly firm evidence that ashwagandha is a good choice of supplement for helping you sleep. However, it’s also important to note that since ashwagandha is an adaptogen, the time of day you take it will ultimately determine how effective it is at helping you sleep.

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    Can I Take Ashwagandha Before Bed?

    Yes, it’s absolutely fine to take ashwagandha before bed but timing is critical depending on what you’d like to achieve by taking ashwagandha. This can be anywhere from thirty minutes to four hours before bed.

    If you want to use ashwagandha as a way to wind down and drift off to sleep peacefully, it’s best to take it a little earlier in the evening. The reason for this is because it takes a while for you to start feeling its effects.

    It’s best to take it with food as well, so if you are using it to help you fall asleep, take some ashwagandha alongside your dinner.

    However, if you don’t have any issues falling asleep and you’re taking ashwagandha as a way to stop you from waking in the middle of the night, it’s best to take it right before bed.

    The amount of ashwagandha you take also needs to be considered. The average dose for inducing sleep or to prevent waking in the night is 300-400mg, but this will be something that you’ll have to experiment with to get perfect.

    It’s also worth noting that the earlier in the evening you take your ashwagandha supplement, the higher the dosage will need to be in order to make it last throughout the night.

    And, if you’re taking it morning and night (which some studies say is beneficial to those suffering from both insomnia and anxiety), you’ll need a higher daily dosage that is split across each part of the day.

    ashwagandha before bed

    Can Ashwagandha Help With Insomnia?

    Ashwagandha is one of the best natural remedies for helping beat insomnia, and there are a couple of reasons for this.

    First of all, ashwagandha is an adaptogen. This means that it helps the body recover from stressful situations much better and prevents chronic stress from forming, which is one of the biggest causes of insomnia.

    Ashwagandha is also believed to significantly reduce the cortisol levels in the body. For those lucky enough to have a perfectly running Circadian rhythm, cortisol peaks in the morning.

    For most insomnia patients, cortisol levels often peak in the middle of the night. This is what makes it so difficult to get back to sleep, sometimes causing sleep disorders.

    But, by taking ashwagandha, you could potentially stop your cortisol levels from peaking and get the peaceful, uninterrupted night’s sleep you’re longing for.

    However, it’s worth noting that you shouldn’t rely on ashwagandha alone as a cure for insomnia. Instead, it should be used as part of making changes to your lifestyle to improve sleep quality.

    These changes should include avoiding caffeine, getting plenty of exercise, and making sure there are no light or sound interruptions in your bedroom.

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    Effects of Ashwagandha for Sleep

    You might notice that you’re starting to feel sleepy a few hours after taking ashwagandha in the evening. However, ashwagandha doesn’t actually make you sleepy.

    It is a powerful sleep aid, but it doesn’t work in the same way as a prescribed sleep medication and it certainly doesn’t make you drowsy.

    Instead, the sleepy feeling that you might get after taking ashwagandha could actually be your body naturally relaxing as your cortisol levels are reduced.

    As cortisol levels are reduced, our Circadian rhythm is allowed to work more efficiently. In turn, we begin to feel sleepy exactly when we should as our stress hormone isn’t keeping us awake.

    If you’re finding that ashwagandha is making you feel prematurely sleepy, the first thing you need to do is make sure you’re taking it with food. Doing this allows your body to absorb it gradually. You might need to play around with the dosage a little until you find what works best for you.

    Make sure you’re taking it at the right time of the evening, too. If you’re taking it too early in the day, you might find yourself falling asleep sooner than you had planned!

    ashwagandha and insomnia

    What Is The Best Ashwagandha Dosage For Sleep?

    People occasionally ask if Ashwagandha can keep you awake which if you’ve reached this point in the article, you’ll know that’s not the case.

    Ashwagandha definitely shouldn’t keep you awake. It’s an adaptogen that is believed to reduce your cortisol levels and encourage your body to return to a normal sleep/wake cycle.

    However, if you find that you're still struggling to fall asleep or you’re waking in the middle of the night despite taking ashwagandha, there are a couple of things you need to check.

    First of all, check that the extract you're taking is pure and the best quality it can be. Unfortunately, many manufacturers source poor quality ashwagandha that can be mixed with other substances to keep their costs down - and that may have a negative impact on your sleep efficiency, and health.

    If you're confident you already picked the best ashwagandha supplement, then check the dosage you're taking. The average recommended dose of ashwagandha is 300-400mg (approximately 1 capsule), and this should be enough to help you get to sleep and stay asleep.

    Depending on the severity of your insomnia, however, this may not be enough. In this case, try increasing the dosage to 500-600mg per day.

    You also need to make sure that you’re taking ashwagandha at the correct time to meet your goal. If you struggle to fall asleep, it’s better to take it earlier in the evening with your dinner.

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    If you find it easy to fall asleep, but you have trouble staying asleep, take it just before bed. This will prevent you from waking in the middle of the night.

    You might also need to consider splitting a higher dose of ashwagandha across the morning and the evening. This is especially true if you suffer from both anxiety and insomnia.

    Aim for 500-600mg, with an equal split for each part of the day. Again, you may have to play with dosage here, but it’s worth trying if you're still awake after taking ashwagandha.

    It’s also important to remain patient when you start taking ashwagandha. It can take between 6-12 weeks for it to really start seeing the impact of ashwagandha on people who suffer from insomnia.

    So, if you’ve only been taking it for a short while, persevere with it. The benefits should come to you eventually.

    Finally, if you’ve been taking ashwagandha consistently for more than 12 weeks, it might be a good idea to consult your doctor about your insomnia. If it’s severe, even ashwagandha may not be powerful enough to help cure it.

    FAQs About Ashwagandha and Sleep

    Q1. What are the side effects of ashwagandha?

    The efficacy and safety of ashwagandha root extract is widely recognized, but like any supplement, it may have adverse effects for some individuals, including nausea, headache, and drowsiness. For more information, read our article on ashwagandha and its side effects.

    Q2. What other herbs are good for sleep and anxiety?

    Alongside ashwagandha, other herbs like chamomile and valerian root have been noted for their positive extract on sleep and anxiety. L-theanine, found in green tea, also plays a key role in promoting relaxation. Discover the synergistic effects of combining ashwagandha and l-theanine here.

    Q3. What form of ashwagandha is more effective for sleep?

    The effectiveness of ashwagandha for improving total sleep time and its extract on sleep quality varies with its form. Capsule or powder forms of ashwagandha root extract, due to their concentrated nature, are often considered more effective for enhancing sleep. These forms allow for precise dosage, potentially offering a more significant impact on sleep quality and duration.

    Wrapping Up

    The role of Ashwagandha in tackling insomnia reveals a promising ally in the quest for better sleep. With evidence pointing towards its ability to decrease sleep latency and enhance overall sleep quality, Ashwagandha stands out as a beneficial supplement.

    But remember, incorporating this adaptogen into a broader strategy for improving sleep hygiene and reducing stress can offer a holistic approach to overcoming insomnia.

    We hope that has answered all of your questions regarding ashwagandha and sleep!

    Please check out the rest of our articles on this amazing ayurvedic herb as it has more health benefits that you can probably imagine.

    Darcy Ogdon-Nolan

    Holding a Bachelor Of Science (Hons.) combined with close to a decade now in the health food and wellness industry, I believe I'm uniquely positioned to provide a depth of knowledge and first-hand experience on emerging health products, trends and ideas! From greens powders and medicinal mushrooms through to protein powders and workout nutrition - I'm particularly interested in what modern science can uncover about what human cultures have been using to treat ailments for millennia!

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