Over 30% of adults say they sleep less than the recommended seven hours per night, despite the fact that sleep is essential for optimal health.
A whopping 36% of Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, turn to complementary and alternative medicine to help with or treat a variety of health issues, including sleep difficulties. Ashwagandha, a herb that is thought to have sleep-inducing qualities, is a natural cure for insomnia.
What Is Ashwagandha?
Indian ginseng and winter cherry are two other names for the natural remedy ashwagandha, which is commonly used in traditional Ayurvedic treatment. A little evergreen shrub native to India and Southeast Asia, Withania somnifera, is used to make it. Traditional Ayurvedic medicine uses ashwagandha to treat a wide range of ailments, but more data is needed to determine whether it is safe and beneficial.
Health Benefits of Ashwagandha
A class of herbs known as adaptogens includes ashwagandha, which is classified as an adaptogen because of its ability to protect the body against stress. Preliminary research suggests ashwagandha may be beneficial in combating stress, despite the lack of accessible data on its benefits and processes.
The endocrine, neurological, and cardiovascular systems may all benefit from taking ashwagandha, too, according to some users. There are claims that it can be used to treat several forms of breast cancer, as well as anxiety, cognitive impairment, and diabetes. The scientific proof for these claims needs to be strengthened, and researchers are currently trying to determine the specific mechanism by which the plant works and whether or not it has any unintended side effects.
Ashwagandha as a Sleep Aid
Ashwagandha may help people fall asleep more quickly, stay asleep longer, and experience better sleep quality, according to a preliminary study. Participants in an actigraphy-based study who took ashwagandha for six weeks described their sleep like 72% better on average.
Ashwagandha’s sleep-inducing properties may be due to a variety of substances in the herb. Triethylene glycol, which is naturally contained in the herb, is thought by some to be a sedative. According to other theories, ashwagandha affects the sleep-wake cycle via GABA receptors. Ashwagandha’s apparent therapeutic properties may be the result of additional, as-yet-unidentified substances.
Withanolides, the primary active element in Ashwagandha, are believed to have a wide range of health advantages, including the capacity to reduce stress. Sleep deprivation and excessive daytime sleepiness have both been linked to high levels of stress. It’s possible that consuming ashwagandha before bedtime will help you fall asleep more easily.
How to Use Ashwagandha for Sleep
Ashwagandha can be purchased in a variety of ways. Various forms of the supplement are available to choose from, such as powder, tea, tablet, tincture, or gummy bears. Brand, quantity, and quality all affect the price. It is possible to combine Ashwagandha products with other herbs and vitamins.
Ashwagandha can be used to help you sleep if you follow the directions on the supplement you purchase. The ideal ashwagandha dosage is still being debated, and it may vary from supplement to supplement. The typical dosage ranges from 250 milligrams to 600 mg to aid sleep. Ashwagandha should not be taken for more than three months at a time.
Ashwagandha is classified as a dietary supplement by the FDA, which does not inspect supplements for quality and safety before they are put on the market. It’s possible that certain ashwagandha products may not mention all of the ingredients. In order to avoid this, make sure you only buy from retailers you know and trust. Consult your physician as well, since they may be able to recommend a trusted retailer.
How Ashwagandha Compares to Other Sleep Aids
Ashwagandha’s effectiveness as a sleep aid has not been adequately studied in comparison to another natural, prescribed, or over-the-counter options. According to a study comparing 23 different herbal sleep aids, valerian, passionflower, and ashwagandha were determined to be the most effective. Ashwagandha, like many other natural sleep aids, has not been thoroughly studied, making it difficult to determine its efficacy.
Prescription sleep medicines, on the other hand, are regulated by the FDA and require a prescription from a doctor or other medical practitioner to be obtained by the patient. It’s possible that over-the-counter sleep aids will be more widely available and less expensive. All sleep aids, natural or pharmaceutical, have the potential for negative effects.
It may take some trial and error to find what works best for you. If you’re experiencing difficulties sleeping, see your doctor. When it comes to treating sleep disorders like insomnia, your doctor may suggest lifestyle changes such as changing your bedtime routine or prescribing safe sleep aids from a variety of sources.
Side Effects of Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha may be safe to consume for up to three months, even though its long-term safety profile has not been properly explored. Ashwagandha’s most common negative effects include:
- Upset stomach
Less common symptoms that some people may experience are the following:
- Dry mouth
- Cough and congestion
- Blurred vision
- Weight gain
Ashwagandha pills may induce liver damage, according to certain studies. Call your doctor right away if you suffer any adverse effects, especially those that are indicative of liver damage, such as jaundice or itching skin.
How to Decide if Ashwagandha Is Right for You
Those looking for an alternate sleep aid may want to consider ashwagandha. However, ashwagandha should be avoided by certain groups. These are the groups that make up these subsets:
- A pregnant or breastfeeding woman.
- Individuals with auto-immune illnesses.
- People who have recently undergone or are preparing to have surgery.
- Thyroid disease sufferers.
If you fall into any of the following categories, talk to your doctor about safe sleep aids. Ashwagandha can interact with other medications, so you should check with your doctor before taking it.