May 09, 2022 8 min read

Getting enough sleep at night is crucial, yet nearly 70 million Americans are impacted by some form of sleep disorder each year. Up to 15% of the population suffers from chronic insomnia caused by stress or impairment.

A bottle of prescription pills used to combat sleep disorders, which may come with unwanted side effects.

Many people turn to sleep aids to help combat sleep disorders and improve the quality of their sleep at night, but many of these medications are associated with unwanted side effects, like daytime grogginess. Moreover, many of them act as a sedative, but don’t necessarily target the sleep issues at their source.

Ultimately, many people who frequently experience poor sleep, whether they have tried over-the-counter and prescription meds or not, find themselves looking for a more natural (and effective) treatment option.

Enter Ashwagandha, a root-derived supplement used in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine practices to help soothe stress and improve sleep. You can find Ashwagandha in capsule and powder form, and it’s often touted as having sedative-like properties, but with fewer drawbacks compared to common sleep-enhancing medications.

So, what’s the truth about Ashwagandha for sleep? Does it work? And if so, how do you use Ashwagandha for sleep effectively? Here’s what we know:

Table of Contents
What is Ashwagandha?
Can Ashwagandha Help Sleep?
How to Use Ashwagandha for Sleep?
Side Effects of Using Ashwagandha for Sleep
Which Ashwaganhda is Best for Sleep
Frequently Asked Questions
Resources

Key Takeaways

  • Ashwagandha root has been used in herbal preparations for centuries to address a variety of health problems, from circulation issues to fertility imbalances and more.
  • Current research supports the idea that Ashwagandha supplements include certain compounds that may be beneficial for regulating sleep cycles and improving sleep quality.
  • Be sure to choose a high-quality supplement and start at the low end of the recommended dosing threshold when you try Ashwagandha for the first time.
  • Talk to your doctor about using Ashwagandha for sleep if you have hormone imbalances, are pregnant or breastfeeding, or suffer from an autoimmune disease.

What is Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha, sometimes known as Indian ginseng, is an herbal remedy used in many traditional medicine practices. So far as herbal medicines go, Ashwagandha is one of the most well researched, which is why it’s so commonly accepted as a remedy for a wide range of ailments.

The plant is native to India and Asia and grows into a small shrub, though the roots are the portion of the plant most commonly used for therapeutic purposes. In the modern wellness market, you’ll likely find Ashwagnadha in powder and capsule form, although the dosage size is not standardized, and the recommended dosage varies greatly based on person, weight, health conditions, and more.

Ahwagandha Benefits

Ashwagandha root has been linked to a wide variety of potential benefits, both in ancient medical texts and in modern medical research. Many sources consider it an adaptogen, meaning it may help the body “adapt” to stress and regulate many routine bodily functions affecting the immune system, nervous system, and cognitive processes.

For that reason, some people believe Ashwagandha is a one-size-fits-all supplement, while others point to more specific benefits. Some of these potential benefits include:

  • Improving sleep
  • Calming anxiety
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Neuroprotection properties
  • Cognitive enhancement
  • Diabetes management
  • Assisting in certain cancer therapies
  • Improving nervous system function
  • Improving heart health

Of course, much of the evidence we have relating to Ashwagandha’s varied benefits is still in it’s preliminary stages. Let’s talk about the one benefit of Ashwagandha that has been investigated most thoroughly–improving sleep.

A woman sleeping soundly after taking her nighttime Ashwagandha dose

Can Ashwagandha Help Sleep?

Over the years, researchers have become particularly interested in Ashwagandha’s ability to help improve sleep, probably because its known to act on GABA receptors, which function as part of the body’s sleep-wake circuit. Others believe that these potential benefits are due to the triethylene glycol found in Ashwagandha, which may have a sedative-like effect in moderate doses. It’s also possible that other compounds are at play, some of which may give Ashwagandha certain stress-reducing benefits that can help improve sleep.

Regardless of the underlying reason behind these effects, most researchers familiar with the subject do agree that Ashwagandha may benefit sleep. Human trials are limited, but some evidence does exist to support the claims. One study, for instance, found that participants experienced a 72% increase in sleep quality after taking Ashwagandha regularly for a period of 6 weeks.

Of course, more research is needed before Ashwagnadha can be considered a treatment for sleep disorders, and it’s currently only regulated as a supplement in the U.S. Evidence suggests, however, that Ashwagandha exhibits some of the most promising sleep-enhancing effects among 23 different herbal supplements.

How to Use Ashwagandha for Sleep

Not all Ashwagandha is made equally, and not everyone's dosing routine will look the same. In fact, you'll need to tailor your Ashwagandha dose to meet your specific needs in order to reap the most benefit. To learn how to use Ashwagandha for sleep, you'll need to consider these factors:

Forms of Ashwagandha

You may find different supplements, like teas and capsules, made from various parts of the Ashwagandha plant, but people commonly seek Ashwagandha root either in powder or capsule form for therapeutic use.

Many people prefer the powdered form of Ashwagandha root because it can be mixed into a morning beverage, like a coffee or a smoothie. The powder also allows you to easily adjust your dosage, and is sometimes said to be less likely to cause side effects like heartburn or upset stomach, likely because it’s taken with plenty of fluids.

Capsules, of course, are often the most convenient choice for consumers with an established routine who need consistent, pre-prepared doses for daily use.

The most important factor is the quality of your Ashwagandha dose. Keep in mind that Ashwagandha is not regulated the same way that pharmaceutical drugs are in the U.S. Therefore, it’s up to you to ensure that you buy a high-quality, clean form of Ashwagandha to ensure optimal efficacy and reduce the risk of adverse effects. Typically, you’ll want to look for a brand that uses cGMP compliant manufacturing facilities and a third-party lab testing process to ensure purity.

When to Take Ashwagandha for Sleep

When taking Ashwagandha for sleep, we recommend taking your dosage around an hour before bed. Some people also take Ashwagandha during the daytime to combat stress, so you may want to break your dosage into two daily doses.

It’s especially important to take it daily for the most benefits since it may take about two weeks to feel the effects of Ashwagandha root supplements.

How Much Ashwagandha Per Day for Sleep

The amount of Ashwagandha needed to experience the full benefits of its effects varies for every person, but most human studies exhibit promising results with doses between 300 mg and 600 mg of Ashwagandha root extract per day. One study evaluating Ashwagandha’s general anxiolytic and adaptogenic effects suggests that doses between 250 mg and 600 mg were found to be useful for most patients.

It may be best to start at the low end of this dosing spectrum and increase your dose over a few weeks until you experience the full effects you’re after.

Side Effects of Using Ashwagandha for Sleep

In the research available, Ashwagandha is generally well-tolerated by both humans and animals. There is currently little research available that evaluates the safety of Ashwagandha in depth, but we do know of some circumstances where Ashwagandha root could be potentially unsafe.

Talk to your doctor before using Ashwagandha if:

  • You have a thyroid imbalance. Ashwagandha can impact thyroid function by converting T4 to T3, which means it may be dangerous for anyone with a hyperactive thyroid.
  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding.There is no evidence to support the safety of Ashwagandha for pregnant women or breastfeeding women.
  • You suffer from an autoimmune disease. Ashwagnahda may interact with the immune system in a way that could be potentially harmful for those with under or over-active immune systems.

Even for healthy people, Ashwagandha may pose some potential side effects. These side effects are rare and usually mild and may include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Upset stomach
  • Vomiting
  • Dry mouth
  • Drowsiness

Some of the more severe (but rare side effects) from Ashwagandha may include:

  • Vertigo
  • Hallucinations
  • Cough and congestion
  • Blurred vision
  • Rash
  • Weight gain

The primary concern for Ashwagandha consumers should be the quality of the products they choose. Ashwagandha, on its own, is likely safe for most people, but low-quality formulas could contain other ingredients that pose a higher risk. Sourcing Ashwagandha from a high-quality manufacturer can help reduce that risk.

Which Ashwagandha is Best for Sleep

There are many different Ashwagandha forms and formulas available, and narrowing the selection down to "one best product" is a challenge. If you're trying to combat complex sleep disruptions, however, we recommend a multifaceted approach. Many people combine Ashwagandha with other herbs and adaptogens to help improve sleep latency and quality.

Vida Optima CBN Sleep Tincture

Our Full Spectrum CBN + CBD Sleep Tincture contains 300 mg CBN + 700 mg CBD per bottle, alongside a proprietary infusion of Ashwagandha and 5-HTP. This formula is designed to offer a powerful synergistic effect, sometimes known as “the ensemble effect,” to help optimize sleep cycles. According to anecdotal reports, this system-regulating combination of adaptogenic herbs and hemp-derived cannabinoids may help improve sleep quality over time.

To learn more about how this formula works to improve sleep, you may want to read:

Ashwagandha for Sleep Frequently Asked Questions

Do I take ashwagandha in the morning or night?

Ashwagandha is a multifaceted, adaptogenic herb, so it may have benefits that make it useful for both day and nighttime dosing. Some people take it twice a day as part of their normal wellness routine. Others find that Ashwagandha makes them feel tired and take it only at night, which may be the best option when using Ashwagandha for sleep.

Will ashwagandha make me sleepy?

Feeling tired or sleepy is a possible side effect of Ashwagandha because it contains certain compounds that may have effects similar to sedatives. However, you shouldn’t feel excessively drowsy or unable to stay awake, rather you may feel slightly more relaxed and capable of falling asleep more easily.

Is it OK to take ashwagandha everyday?

Typically, yes, Ashwagandha should be takendaily to reap the most benefit. You should pay close attention to the recommended dosages and dosing periods on the products you choose. Supplements are not well regulated in the U.S., so make sure that you choose a product that’s been tested and proven to be free of dirt, pesticides, heavy metals, mold, and other contaminants.

How quickly does ashwagandha work?

Some people claim that they feel more relaxed and sleep better after their first Ashwagandha dose, but it may take up to two weeks for Ashwagandha to help regulate bodily system to provide the desired result. For this reason, it’s important to take Ashwagandha daily for optimal results.

Resources

  1. “Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) Root Extract in Insomnia and Anxiety: A Double-blind, Randomized, Placebo-controlled Study” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31728244/
  2. “Direct evidence for GABAergic activity of Withania somnifera on mammalian ionotropic GABAA and GABAρ receptors” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26068424/
  3. “Triethylene glycol, an active component of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) leaves, is responsible for sleep induction” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28207892/
  4. “Effects of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) on Stress and the Stress- Related Neuropsychiatric Disorders Anxiety, Depression, and Insomnia” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34254920/
  5. “A randomized, double blind, placebo controlled study to evaluate the effects of ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) extract on sleep quality in healthy adults” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32540634/
  6. “Medicinal Plants for Insomnia Related to Anxiety: An Updated Review” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34116572/
  7. “Adaptogenic and Anxiolytic Effects of Ashwagandha Root Extract in Healthy Adults: A Double-blind, Randomized, Placebo-controlled Clinical Study” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32021735/

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