Ashwagandha and Insomnia: A Scientific Perspective of Nature's Sleep Aid

Ashwagandha and Insomnia: A Scientific Perspective of Nature's Sleep Aid

Sleep plays a crucial role in our overall well-being, affecting everything from our brain function to our heart health. It's a state of reversible unconsciousness where our brain becomes less responsive to outside stimuli [1]. During this time, our body goes through important processes like neural development, learning, memory consolidation, and regulating cardiovascular and metabolic functions [2].


The National Sleep Foundation recommends that younger adults aim for seven to nine hours of sleep, while older adults should target seven to eight hours [3]. However, as we age, our sleep duration tends to decrease, with studies showing about a 10-minute reduction in total sleep time per decade [4]. Despite these guidelines, there isn't a one-size-fits-all rule for how much sleep each person needs. The key is to wake up feeling refreshed and able to function well during the day [5].


Unfortunately, modern society has seen a decline in both sleep duration and quality. Over a 27-year period in the United States, the number of adults sleeping six hours or less per night increased significantly [6]. Similar trends are seen in other countries like China and Italy, where a notable percentage of adults report dissatisfaction with their sleep and struggle with insufficient rest [7, 8].


Not only are people sleeping less, but the prevalence of insomnia disorder is also on the rise, affecting around 10% of the population according to diagnostic criteria [9]. This percentage is even higher among older adults, with half of them reporting sleep-related issues [10]. These trends highlight the importance of exploring effective solutions for better sleep, such as the role of natural remedies like ashwagandha.



Understanding the Insomnia Disorder:

Insomnia disorder is a condition where individuals experience ongoing dissatisfaction with either the quantity or quality of their sleep. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th edition (DSM-5), it's characterized by difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up too early at least three nights per week for three months, along with daytime symptoms like fatigue, cognitive issues, or mood disturbances [11].


Unlike previous classifications, DSM-5 no longer separates insomnia into primary and secondary categories, emphasizing that insomnia can stand alone as a distinct disorder [11]. While researchers have made strides in understanding its causes, there's still no universally accepted model. One proposed model suggests that genetic factors and abnormalities in brain processes may contribute to insomnia, leading to heightened arousal and psychological factors that increase the risk of developing the disorder [12]. External stressors and individual characteristics like age and sex can also influence how insomnia manifests.


The consequences of inadequate sleep are significant. Even a few days of restricted sleep can lead to increased sleepiness, fatigue, and stress, impacting overall functioning [13]. Short sleep duration is linked to a higher risk of conditions like hypertension [14,15], type 2 diabetes [16], obesity [17], metabolic syndrome [18], heart disease [19], stroke [20], and even increased mortality rates [21]. These findings underscore the importance of getting enough quality sleep for overall well-being and quality of life.




Holistic Approaches to Insomnia Treatment:

Treating insomnia involves both pharmacological and non-pharmacological methods. However, many medications can lead to dependency or unwanted side effects.

Non-pharmacological treatments are usually the first choice for managing sleep disorders. These include cognitive-behavioural therapy for insomnia (CBT-I), improving sleep habits, counseling, and relaxation techniques [22].

CBT-I is highly effective but often underused due to a shortage of trained providers. As a result, complementary and alternative therapies have gained popularity. These may include massage, music therapy, aromatherapy, acupuncture, acupressure, and herbal remedies. Many people turn to these alternative options, including herbal products, as part of their approach to managing sleep issues [23].



Ashwagandha as a Natural Remedy for Insomnia:

With concerns about side effects from conventional insomnia treatments [24], more people are turning to herbal remedies. One such remedy being studied for its potential in addressing insomnia is Withania somnifera, commonly known as Ashwagandha. However, research on Ashwagandha's effects on insomnia in humans is limited.


Ashwagandha has a long history of use in Ayurveda, the traditional medicine system in India. It's a shrub native to Western India and the Mediterranean, with its roots being the most valued part due to their rich content of bioactive compounds like withanolides, known for their medicinal properties [26]. The plant's stem and leaves also contain beneficial compounds [27].


The demand for Ashwagandha has led to its availability in various forms, with extracts from the roots, leaves, or a combination being sold as dietary supplements. Pills and capsules are the most common forms of Ashwagandha supplements [25].



Safety of Ashwagandha Extract & Mechanisms of Action in Sleep Induction:

Ashwagandha extract is generally well tolerated, even at higher doses, as demonstrated in a study assessing its safety on organ function [28]. Previous research suggested that Ashwagandha might promote sleep through its effects on GABAergic activity, observed in sleep-deprived rats [29]. Withanolides, the key active compounds in Ashwagandha, are believed to drive many of its biological functions.


Other studies have highlighted Ashwagandha's diverse benefits, including anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-stress, antioxidant, immunomodulatory, hemopoietic, and rejuvenating properties [30, 31].


The primary focus of this blog is to explore Ashwagandha's impact on sleep by examining existing clinical trials and research studies.



Overview of Published Clinical Trials on Ashwagandha and Sleep:


We found five published clinical trials involving a total of 400 participants [32-36].


  1. A randomized, double blind, placebo controlled study to evaluate the effects of ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) extract on sleep quality in healthy adults (32)


  1. Adaptogenic and Anxiolytic Effects of Ashwagandha Root Extract in Healthy Adults: A Double-blind, Randomized, Placebo-controlled Clinical Study (33)


  1. Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) Root Extract in Insomnia and Anxiety: A Double-blind, Randomized, Placebo-controlled Study (34)


  1. Efficacy and Tolerability of Ashwagandha Root Extract in the Elderly for Improvement of General Well-being and Sleep: A Prospective, Randomized, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Study (35)


  1. Clinical evaluation of the pharmacological impact of ashwagandha root extract on sleep in healthy volunteers and insomnia patients: A double-blind, randomized, parallel-group, placebo-controlled study (36)




These trials encompassed a range of groups: two trials with 210 healthy adults, one trial with 50 healthy elderly individuals over 60 years old, one trial with 60 adults diagnosed with insomnia based on DSM-IV criteria, and one trial with 40 healthy adults and 40 adults with insomnia [32-36]. Both men and women were included in all trials.


Participants were randomly assigned to either receive Ashwagandha extract capsules or a control treatment. In all five trials, the intervention involved taking Ashwagandha extract capsules, typically with milk or water, throughout the study period.


In one trial, participants took 120 mg of Ashwagandha extract daily [32], while another trial compared doses of 250 mg and 600 mg per day with a control group [33]. The remaining three trials used a dosage of 600 mg per day [34, 35, 36].


The duration of these trials varied, with one lasting six weeks [32], two lasting eight weeks [33, 36], one lasting 10 weeks [34], and one lasting 12 weeks [35]. Placebo capsules were used in all five trials alongside the Ashwagandha extract.


Across all five randomized controlled trials involving 400 participants, Ashwagandha extract showed a significant improvement in overall sleep quality. The effects were more noticeable in adults with diagnosed insomnia, higher dosages (≥600 mg/day), and longer treatment periods (≥8 weeks).


Ashwagandha extract also demonstrated improvements in mental alertness upon waking and reduced anxiety levels, although it did not significantly impact overall quality of life. Importantly, no serious side effects were reported.





In conclusion, Ashwagandha extract has shown promising results in improving sleep quality, especially in individuals with diagnosed insomnia, when used at doses of 600 mg per day or higher for at least 8 weeks. It also offers benefits such as increased mental alertness and reduced anxiety levels.


If you're looking for a natural solution to improve your sleep, consider trying our Ancient's Therapy Ashwagandha 450mg Capsules. These capsules provide a standardized dose of Ashwagandha extract, carefully formulated to help you achieve better sleep and wake up feeling refreshed.


Additionally, for a comprehensive approach to better sleep, we recommend our Melatonin Combos including Melatonin + CBD & Melatonin + CBG. Melatonin is a hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles, while CBD and CBG have calming and relaxing effects, making them ideal complements to support a restful night's sleep.


For optimal results, we suggest taking one Ancient's Therapy Ashwagandha 450mg capsule and one Melatonin Combo with CBD & CBG capsule about 30 minutes before bedtime. This timing allows the supplements to take effect when you're ready to sleep, promoting a more peaceful and rejuvenating rest. Take the first step towards better sleep and a healthier lifestyle with Ancient Therapy.





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