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Is Ashwagandha Good for Sleep?

If you struggle to fall asleep at night, you’ve likely tried various sleep aids but may have not found one that truly helps you get a good night’s rest. One item that may have come up in your search is ashwagandha.

Ashwagandha has gained interest for its potential sleep-related benefits, and it comes in various forms such as an ashwagandha tablet, powder, or extract. The benefits of ashwagandha sound great, but does it really help people sleep better?

In this article, we’ll cover what the science says about its connection to sleep and how to properly use it. We’ll also discuss its potential side effects, who should and should not consume ashwagandha, and how it compares to other sleep aids.

What Is Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha1 (also known as Withania somnifera) is an evergreen shrub from the more tropical regions of Africa, Asia, and Europe, and the name originates from the Sanskrit language. It’s considered an important herb in Ayurveda2, the traditional medicine system in India. 

According to the National Institutes of Health, ashwagandha has been recommended for improving sleep, stress, anxiety, and cognitive disorders.1

Forms of Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is commonly available in powder form, mixed with water or honey.2 However, you also find it online in capsule or liquid form. In some cases, people may opt to add powdered ashwagandha to their smoothies or warm drinks. 

Can Ashwagandha Be Used as a Sleep Aid?

Research suggests that ashwagandha could be a helpful sleep aid. 

A 2020 study3 looked at the effects of ashwagandha for sleep quality in healthy adults. A total of 144 participants took part in the study. The researchers found that there was a 72 percent increase in sleep quality in the treatment group, and a 29 percent increase in the control group. In the study, those who took the ashwagandha extract took less time to fall asleep than prior and increased their total amount of time asleep.3

Further, a 2021 study4 showed that participants with insomnia who took ashwagandha extract for eight weeks reported that they had better sleep quality, fell asleep more easily, and were more alert upon awakening. 

So, why does ashwagandha make you sleepy? Well, research5 has found that ashwagandha can act as an agonist, or activator, for GABA receptors. To clarify, GABA6 is a neurotransmitter in the brain that plays a large role in sleep, and low levels of GABA7 are associated with shorter sleep duration and insomnia. Therefore, if ashwagandha can activate GABA receptors, this could potentially lead to improved sleep quality and duration.

How to Use Ashwagandha for Sleep

According to experts with the Cleveland Clinic8, you should consume 500 milligrams of ashwagandha twice per day, no matter the form it comes in. Ashwagandha is reportedly well-tolerated for up to three months, but there’s no definitive research into the safety and efficacy of using it long-term.

The timing of when you take your ashwagandha is ultimately your decision since there’s no research stating the ideal time of day to take it. However, if you plan to use this herb for sleep, we suggest asking your healthcare provider for guidance on the best time to take it.

You should also consult with your healthcare provider before taking ashwagandha. Not only can they provide more guidelines on the dosage and when to take it, but they also know your health history and can help ensure it’s safe for you to consume it. 

Does Ashwagandha Have Health Benefits?

Aside from sleep, ashwagandha has other potential health benefits worth considering.

  • May help with stress and anxiety – A systematic review9 of ashwagandha research studies showed promising results for anxiety and stress, though more research is needed. However, if you are experiencing symptoms of a clinical anxiety disorder, we suggest you reach out to a medical professional regarding treatment.
  • Possible cognitive benefits – Ashwagandha may help with cognition. According to a 2022 study10, ashwagandha may help with improved memory, attention span, and executive function. To clarify, executive function11 includes task planning and organizing, along with impulse control.
  • May improve sexual function – A study on ashwagandha and sexual function12 featured 50 women with some sort of sexual dysfunction. Half of the women took 300 milligrams of ashwagandha twice daily for eight weeks, while the other half did not consume it. The results of this study revealed that those who consumed ashwagandha showed significantly more improvement in arousal, lubrication, orgasm, and satisfaction compared to controls.
  • May improve fertilityResearch conducted in 201813 found that taking ashwagandha may increase semen quality and decrease oxidative stress in males, which could contribute to increased fertility. Also, females in this study who took ashwagandha had increased balance in both the luteinizing hormone and the follicular stimulating hormone, which can also help to reduce infertility.
  • Increased muscle strength – Finally, you may want to take ashwagandha if you are looking to improve your muscle strength. One study14 found that men who took ashwagandha twice daily for eight weeks showed greater muscle strength with both the bench press and leg extension exercises compared to men who did not consume ashwagandha. The men who took ashwagandha also showed increased size of chest and arm muscles, along with a reduction in muscle damage.

Side Effects of Ashwagandha

Possible side effects of ashwagandha may include stomach aches, nausea, drowsiness, and diarrhea.1 You should consult your doctor and stop taking ashwagandha if you experience these symptoms. 

In one report, a 20-year-old man experienced liver dysfunction15 when combining ashwagandha with anti-anxiety medication. Also, experts say that if you have a borderline hyperactive thyroid, taking ashwagandha may lead to frank hyperthyroidism.8

Who Should Use Ashwagandha?

Based on the health benefits associated with ashwagandha, it might be worth taking if you are stressed or anxious, have trouble sleeping, are looking to improve your general cognition, have a low sex drive or desire, are struggling with infertility, or want to improve your muscle strength. 9, 10, 12, 13, 14 

Who Should Avoid Ashwagandha?

If you have a borderline hyperactive thyroid or are taking anti-anxiety medication, you should proceed cautiously and consult with a medical professional before taking an ashwagandha supplement.8, 15

The National Institute of Health Office of Dietary Supplements advises against the use of ashwagandha for people who are pregnant or breastfeeding, as it can be dangerous to the baby.1 

Additionally, people with prostate cancer should avoid ashwagandha because this shrub can increase testosterone levels, which can be dangerous for those with prostate cancer.1 

If you have an autoimmune disease16 of any kind, it is also wise to avoid ashwagandha because this shrub can stimulate the immune system, which is already in overdrive for people with autoimmune diseases and could be harmful.

Comparing Ashwagandha to Other Sleep Aids

With so many different sleep aids and supplements on the market, it’s difficult to make the “right” decision. The truth is, there is not just one correct choice, and you may have to experience some trial and error to find your sweet spot when it comes to sleep aids. Again, we recommend checking with your doctor before taking any type of sleep supplement, aid, or medication.

Melatonin supplements are a common sleep supplement. Melatonin17 is a hormone that our bodies naturally produce to help prepare us for sleep when it’s dark out. Sometimes your body does not produce enough melatonin naturally to help you fall asleep, so you may want to try taking a melatonin supplement. 

Since melatonin is a hormone that is already in your body, you may feel more comfortable trying this sleep aid than ashwagandha. However, some people may experience side effects18 when they take a melatonin supplement, such as daytime fatigue, dry mouth, stomach ache, nausea, dizziness, irritability, headache, strange dreams, night sweats, dry mouth, or dry skin. 

You may also be familiar with another popular sleep supplement, magnesium, which is also a naturally occurring mineral19 that you can find in many different foods such as almonds, bananas, and salmon. More recent research20 has found that taking a magnesium supplement is associated with higher sleep quality and length. 

However, some possible side effects from high doses of magnesium are diarrhea and stomach cramps21

Frequently Asked Questions

Will ashwagandha make me sleepy?

There’s a strong possibility that ashwagandha can help make you sleepy. Ashwagandha activates GABA receptors, which can boost GABA production in the brain and ultimately improve sleep.5, 6, 7

How much ashwagandha should I take for sleep?

Some experts suggest taking 500 milligrams of ashwagandha twice per day.8 However, this is a general guideline, so it’s a good idea to follow up with your own doctor since they know your health history and can provide a more tailored recommendation.

Is ashwagandha or melatonin better for sleep?

Ashwagandha and melatonin can both be used for sleep, and their effectiveness varies from person to person and each has promising research behind it. However, since there is already natural melatonin production in your body, you may feel more comfortable taking a melatonin supplement compared to consuming ashwagandha. Ultimately, though, it’s up to you what you feel comfortable trying and what your doctor suggests.

Emma Cronan

Emma Cronan


About Author

Emma is an Editorial Intern for Sleep Advisor. She collaborates with the editor and staff writers to come up with article ideas, create article outlines, and write for the website.

Combination Sleeper


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