In a few weeks, ashwagandha may help you fall asleep faster, sleep better throughout the night, and wake up less often.

Insomnia is a common sleep issue that can significantly affect your physical and mental well-being. Since many insomnia medications may have negative side effects, many people have turned to holistic and herbal remedies to find relief.

Certain ingredients in plants or mushrooms taken in Ayurvedic medicine are called adaptogens. Among these, ashwagandha (Withania somnifera L. Dunal) is a well-known adaptogen that stands out for its ability to lower stress and help you get better sleep.

Yes, ashwagandha may help improve sleep quality in a variety of ways.

Published in 2021, an 8-week study with 80 participants explored how ashwagandha root extract affected sleep in both individuals with and without insomnia. Notably, it led to significant improvements in sleep, especially for people with insomnia.

Ashwagandha supplementation led to sleep improvements in the following ways:

  • Reduced sleep onset latency: Falling asleep took less time.
  • Increased sleep efficiency: Participants spent more time in restful sleep.
  • Improved total sleep time: The overall duration of sleep was enhanced.
  • Decreased wake after sleep onset: Participants had less time awake after initially falling asleep.

The participants also reported enhanced mental alertness when they woke up the next day.

In an Indian hospital study from 2019, 60 participants took either ashwagandha capsules or a placebo for 10 weeks. The study used sleep actigraphy (a small, wrist-worn device) and other assessments to conclude that ashwagandha notably reduced the time it took to fall asleep and improved sleep efficiency and quality.

Another study from 2020 examined the effects of a standardized ashwagandha extract on sleep in 150 healthy individuals who reported having poor sleep quality. After 6 weeks, the group of participants taking the extract reported a 72% improvement in sleep quality, compared with 29% in the placebo group.

The extract also led to significant enhancements in various aspects of sleep, including efficiency, duration, latency, and wake after sleep onset. Quality of life scores across different domains also improved, and no participants reported adverse side effects.

Ashwagandha is believed to work by regulating the body’s stress response through its adaptogenic properties, helping to balance stress hormone levels and reduce anxiety.

It may also modulate neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and GABA, contributing to improved mood and relaxation.

Additionally, its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and immune-modulating effects might contribute to overall well-being. More research is needed, however, to verify these findings.

Ashwagandha is available in various forms, including:

  • powder
  • capsules or tablets
  • liquid extract
  • tea (often combined with other calming herbs)

If you’re seeking rapid effects, liquid forms or teas might be a better choice. For consistent and managed dosing, capsules or tablets might be preferable.

Keep in mind that most studies highlight ashwagandha’s sleep benefits over an extended period, often spanning several weeks. Some individuals might experience a surge in energy shortly after consuming the herb, which could potentially disrupt sleep if taken right before bedtime.

The appropriate dosage of ashwagandha for sleep can vary based on factors such as your individual response, the form of ashwagandha you’re using, and the concentration of active compounds in the product.

As a general guideline:

  • Powder: Typical doses range from 1–2 grams of ashwagandha root powder per day, divided into two doses.
  • Capsules or tablets: Standard dosages often range from 225-600 milligrams (mg) per day, taken in divided doses.
  • Liquid extract: A common dosage is about 1-2 milliliters (mL) of the extract, taken two to three times a day. This corresponds to around 600-1200 mg of ashwagandha per day. Concentrations may vary, so be sure to follow the instructions.
  • Tea: Generally, 1-2 cups of ashwagandha tea per day are recommended.

Taking ashwagandha with meals might lead to a more gradual release of the herb’s active compounds, which may reduce the risk of any sudden energy spikes.

No matter which type of ashwagandha you take, it’s recommended that you talk with a healthcare professional, who can help you determine the right amount for you.

How long does it take for ashwagandha to work for sleep?

The time it takes for ashwagandha to work for sleep can vary among individuals.

Generally, many studies suggest that noticeable improvements in sleep quality and relaxation might happen after a few weeks of consistent use. However, some individuals might experience more immediate effects.

If you’re taking ashwagandha primarily for sleep, it’s generally recommended to avoid taking it right before bedtime, as some people experience an energy boost after taking it.

Ashwagandha’s adaptogenic nature may gradually enhance sleep quality, though it could lead to an energy boost if taken too close to bedtime. This makes it better suited for daytime consumption.

On the other hand, melatonin is a hormone directly linked to sleep-wake cycles and is often taken just before bed to promote sleepiness. But melatonin should be used cautiously to avoid affecting natural hormone balance.

Yes, ashwagandha is generally considered safe for most people when used within recommended dosages. It has a long history of traditional use and is well-tolerated by many individuals.

However, like any supplement or herb, it’s important to be aware of potential side effects:

  • gastrointestinal upset
  • rare allergic reactions
  • interaction with medications (particularly drugs that affect blood sugar levels or blood pressure, or sedatives)
  • effect on thyroid function and hormones

Who should avoid ashwagandha?

Those who should avoid ashwagandha include people who:

  • are pregnant or breastfeeding or chestfeeding
  • have an autoimmune thyroid condition
  • are taking medications that interact with ashwagandha
  • are sensitive to nightshades or have allergies to the herb
  • have hormone-sensitive prostate cancer

Ashwagandha, a natural adaptogen, shows potential for improving sleep quality in people with and without insomnia. Studies suggest that ashwagandha might help you fall asleep faster, sleep better throughout the night, and wake up less often.

It’s important to consult a healthcare professional before using ashwagandha, especially if you have underlying health conditions or are taking medications.