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Can Ashwagandha Help Insomnia? (Or Does it Cause Insomnia?)

by Dale Cudmore | Updated: Mar 10, 2022

Ashwagandha has been used for over 3000 years to treat a wide variety of conditions, including sleep problems (similarly to ginseng).

In recent years, researchers from Western countries have been increasingly studying what benefits are or aren’t real.

So far, evidence seems to point towards ashwagandha being most effective at improving stress and anxiety symptoms (1).

Since insomnia is often caused by stress and anxiety, it’s reasonable to ask if ashwagandha could improve sleep quality.

Research on Ashwagandha and Insomnia

There’s been a decent amount of research on ashwagandha and sleep that we can take a look at.

A study of the general population and ashwagandha found that (2):

Ashwagandha extract exhibited a small but significant effect on overall sleep

The biggest improvements were seen in subjects with insomnia.

An Indian-based study at a hospital looked at the effects of consuming 300 mg of Ashwagandha root extract in milk or water twice per day in patients with insomnia and anxiety (3). The extract was given with milk or water for 10 weeks, and significant improvements were observed in: sleep onset latency (time to fall asleep), sleep efficiency (percent of time in bed spent sleeping).

Finally, another study with 80 patients compared the effects of ashwagandha root extract in both healthy volunteers and insomnia patients against a placebo for 8 weeks (4).

In both healthy and insomnia subjects, there was a significant improvement in the sleep parameters in the Ashwagandha root extract supplemented group

Once again, the improvement was larger in subjects with insomnia, but even healthy subjects experienced a benefit on average.

The most improved sleep parameters were sleep onset latency and sleep efficiency, but total sleep time and number of awakenings after sleep onset also improved.

SummaryThe research we looked at shows that ashwagandha extract has a clear positive effect on sleep quality in most people with insomnia, especially if they have high levels of anxiety.

Can Ashwagandha Cause Insomnia or Have Side Effects?

Some people anecdotally say that ashwagandha causes insomnia for them: is this a placebo effect, or is it possible?

I couldn’t find any research showing a reliably negative effect of ashwagandha on sleep quality, but that doesn’t mean that it couldn’t for some individuals.

Most importantly, much more research is needed to determine optimal dose, timing, and preparation (5).

It’s possible that consuming too much, or in a certain form could have side effects.

There’s also not much known on potential herb-drug interactions, which is another possible way that ashwagandha could degrade sleep quality.

Why Ashwagandha Often Improves Sleep

While it’s not all that important to know, you might find it interesting to know why ashwagandha reduces stress and anxiety.

For the most part in history, the root or whole plant extract has been used without understanding its components in more detail.

Some research is starting to suggest that some parts of ashwagandha have no effect, while the triethylene glycol in it significantly improves sleep (6).

This line of research may lead to more effective ashwagandha supplements in the future.

Summary: Does Ashwagandha Help or Hurt Sleep?

In general, anxiety and stress are 2 of the most common causes of insomnia.

There’s a good amount of evidence that ashwagandha lowers anxiety and stress levels, and the studies we’ve looked at show it typically improves sleep quality.

With that being said, insomnia can be caused by other things, so ashwagandha isn’t going to be a cure-all for everyone with sleep issues. People with sleep issues should still see a doctor to determine the root cause of their problems and get on a treatment plan.

References

  1. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) for the treatment and enhancement of mental and physical conditions
  2. Effect of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) extract on sleep
  3. Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) Root Extract in Insomnia and Anxiety
  4. Clinical evaluation of the pharmacological impact of ashwagandha root extract on sleep in healthy volunteers and insomnia patients
  5. Effects of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) on Stress and the Stress- Related Neuropsychiatric Disorders Anxiety, Depression, and Insomnia
  6. Triethylene glycol, an active component of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) leaves, is responsible for sleep induction

Medical Disclaimer: The information on SnoozeUniversity.com is not intended to be a substitute for physician or other qualified care. We simply aim to inform people struggling with sleep issues about the nature of their condition and/or prescribed treatment.


About the authorDale is the founder of Snooze University and a sleep researcher. I overcame my sleep issues and now I'd like to help you do the same by summarizing the latest sleep studies for you.