Among the myriad benefits that some people associate with herbal medicine is better sleep. Ayurvedic medicine, the traditional herbal lore of India, has a lot to offer on the matter, specifically when it comes to Ashwagandha root. The scientific name of Ashwagandha reveals that it has been recognized as beneficial for sleep for centuries.
After reviewing dozens of scientific studies from around the globe, I’ve found strong supportive evidence that Ashwagandha root (Withania somnifera) can indeed help induce healthy, stress free sleep. In addition, the studies show that Ashwagandha is well-tolerated, and non-addictive.
✲ Ashwagandha can help people get more and better quality sleep
✲ No safety concerns were reported by any of the dozens of studies.
✲ Other benefits included lower stress and anxiety.
✲ Results held even for people diagnosed with insomnia
Data Supporting Ashwagandha
A study published in 2020 showed that participants who received as little as 120 mg of Ashwagandha were able to see significantly better restorative sleep over the course of six weeks. In another study, from 2019, used 300 mg of Ashwagandha twice a day, for 10 weeks, with even better results.
One thing to distinguish between these two studies is the manner in which data was reported. In the 2020 study, participants self-reported their data, which is generally reliable, but not as air-tight as the data collected by the 2019 study.
This earlier study, from Langade, et al, collected self-reported information, but also used minimally invasive sensors and recording equipment to determine exactly how much sleep was achieved over the baseline.
In these findings, participants fell asleep on average 12 minutes faster after Ashwagandha treatment, and stayed asleep for nearly an hour longer.
These results were even further broken down by anxiety and alertness, with those people taking the Ashwagandha having significantly better scores in both categories. This indicates that not only were the participants experiencing better sleep, but that downstream results of better sleep were improved, as well.
Journal Publication of Meta-Data
In the course of scientific and medical study, it is often times beneficial to apply statistical analysis to find patterns or deviations in the data. In the case of a recent publication from September of 2021, data from five clinical studies was evaluated, and the results show that Ashwagandha has clear clinical benefits in helping people sleep.
In fact, the data analysis found that in trials with over 650 participants, there was a significant improvement for people suffering from diagnosed insomnia. This means that the sleep benefits were not limited to lack of rest due to anxiety or stress, but could even be helpful in combating deeper neurological causes of sleeplessness.
In addition to the raw data supporting more sleep, the analysis concluded that the anxiety and alertness results from the study mentioned above were statistically significant across all the studies that tested for it. This means it wasn’t an aberration: Asshwagandha gives more restful sleep with higher levels of wakefulness afterward.
One further thing the data analysis revealed: the higher doses and longer treatments were positively associated with better sleep outcomes. Of the studies using 600 mg doses or higher, for 8 weeks or longer, saw increased benefit to the participants.
This meta analysis found no side effects at a level worth reporting.
One Study Outlying
Researchers in 2017 set out to identify what, exactly, about the Ashwagandha plant was helping produce such profound sleep benefits. They isolated several components from the Ashwagandha plant, and found that the triethylene glycols from the leaves of the plant were the most powerful when creating rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.
Two things to keep in mind about this study: it was conducted on laboratory animals, not on humans; this does not exclude full-spectrum Ashwagandha remedies as effective for sleep.
Breaking that down further, the Ashwagandha plant has various compounds, among them those known as triethylene glycols (TEG), withaferin A, and withanone. These are by no means the only plant compounds found in Ashwagandha, but this study only studied these three.
Researchers used brain scans to determine the quality and amount of sleep in the laboratory animals and only found support for TEG compounds in aiding sleep. The good news is, TEG are found in full-spectrum Ashwagandha, as these use the leaves as well.
In addition, this study found no adverse effects of Ashwagandha use.
The overwhelming amount of evidence suggests that Ashwagandha is a useful remedy for sleeplessness, even in cases of clinical insomnia. This is great news for anyone needing help with more restive sleep, no matter the cause.
Not only did Ashwagandha help with total sleep, it helped with the positive associations with sleep: less anxiety, more alertness, and falling asleep faster. All with no side effects.
While most of the studies indicated that more research is needed, and one study even indicated that the leaves are the most beneficial, it can’t be denied that Ashwagandha has enormous sleep outcomes.