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Does Ashwagandha Make You Sleepy? Exploring Its Effects

The short answer is yes, Ashwagandha can improve sleep quality and reduce the time it takes to fall asleep.

Ashwagandha, a key herb in Ayurvedic medicine, is known for its adaptogenic properties. Adaptogens help the body manage stress and normalize bodily functions. This article explores how ashwagandha affects sleep, based on scientific studies and clinical trials.

Mechanism of Action

Ashwagandha influences sleep through multiple mechanisms. It primarily regulates cortisol levels, a stress hormone. High cortisol levels are linked to stress and anxiety, which can disrupt sleep. By lowering cortisol levels, ashwagandha promotes relaxation, making sleep easier.

Ashwagandha also interacts with neurotransmitters like serotonin and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA inhibits neural activity, promoting relaxation and reducing anxiety. Research suggests that ashwagandha acts as an agonist for GABA receptors, enhancing its calming effects and improving sleep quality.

According to a study, ashwagandha’s interaction with these neurotransmitters can significantly improve sleep quality.

Sleep Quality and Latency

Several studies have examined ashwagandha’s impact on sleep quality and latency. A randomized clinical trial by Langade et al. (2019) found that ashwagandha significantly reduced sleep onset latency. Participants who took ashwagandha fell asleep quicker, reducing their sleep onset latency from 33.94 minutes to 29.00 minutes after ten weeks.

Another study involving 150 individuals with poor sleep quality found that after six weeks of taking a standardized ashwagandha extract, participants reported a 72% improvement in sleep quality. The placebo group only saw a 29% improvement. This study also noted significant enhancements in sleep efficiency, duration, and latency, with no adverse side effects reported.

Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses

A systematic review and meta-analysis by Cheah et al. (2021) analyzed five randomized controlled trials involving 400 participants. The review found that ashwagandha extract had a miniature but significant effect on overall sleep, with a standardized mean difference of -0.59. The effects were more pronounced in adults diagnosed with insomnia, with a treatment dosage of ≥600 mg/day and a duration of ≥8 weeks. The review concluded that ashwagandha appears to improve sleep quality and mental alertness upon waking, with no serious side effects reported.

Safety and Side Effects

Most studies indicate that ashwagandha is generally safe for use, with minor side effects reported in a few cases. For instance, a randomized clinical trial by Deshpande et al. (2020) reported minor side effects such as headaches, fever, acid reflux, and allergic dermatitis. However, these side effects were not severe enough to outweigh the benefits of improved sleep quality.

A study by Verma et al. (2021) also confirmed the safety of ashwagandha root extract, with no significant adverse effects observed in healthy volunteers. However, it is essential to note that long-term safety data is limited, and more research is needed to assess the potential risks of prolonged use.

Dosage and Administration

The effective dosage of ashwagandha for improving sleep varies across studies. Generally, a dosage of 600 mg/day has been found to be more effective than lower doses. For instance, a study comparing 250 mg/day and 600 mg/day dosages found that while both doses improved sleep quality, the higher dose had a more significant impact.

Ashwagandha can be taken at any time of the day, depending on individual preferences and tolerance. Some people may prefer taking it in the morning as part of their daily supplement routine, while others may find it more beneficial to take it at night to promote relaxation and improve sleep quality. It is generally recommended to take ashwagandha with food to avoid potential stomach discomfort.

Key Takeaways

  • Ashwagandha regulates cortisol levels, reducing stress.
  • It interacts with neurotransmitters like GABA, promoting relaxation.
  • Clinical trials show it improves sleep quality and reduces sleep onset latency.
  • Dosages of 600 mg/day are more effective.
  • Generally safe with minor side effects reported.

Summary

Ashwagandha appears to have a positive impact on sleep quality and latency. Its ability to modulate stress hormones and neurotransmitters like GABA contributes to its sleep-promoting effects. While most studies report minor side effects, the overall safety profile of ashwagandha is favorable, especially for short-term use.

However, long-term safety data is limited, and more research is needed to fully understand the potential risks of prolonged use. Individuals interested in using ashwagandha for sleep should consult with a healthcare provider to determine the appropriate dosage and ensure it does not interact with other medications or health conditions.

In summary, ashwagandha can make you sleepy by improving sleep quality and reducing sleep onset latency, primarily through its adaptogenic properties and interaction with neurotransmitters. Its use as a natural sleep aid is supported by several clinical trials and systematic reviews, making it a viable option for those seeking to enhance their sleep health.

References

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