Unfortunately, falling and staying asleep doesn’t come easy to everyone. While TikTok has highlighted various sleep trends to try and address these problems with sleepy girl mocktails or magnesium supplements, ashwagandha is one of the latest.
What is ashwagandha? According to the Cleveland Clinic, it’s an evergreen shrub primarily found in India, Africa, and parts of the Middle East, that is traditionally used to increase energy, improve health, and reduce inflammation, pain, and anxiety. One of its latest uses though is to help improve your sleep.
TikToks of people using ashwagandha first became viral on the app in 2022 for increasing testosterone and muscle growth. Since the beginning of 2023, multiple videos have gotten popular of people using the supplement for decreasing anxiety and most recently improving sleep quality.
Ashwagandha is known for lowering cortisol, also known as your stress hormone. While it’s been common to take it to help with anxiety, using it as a sleep aid didn’t become popular until recently.
But can it actually help to improve sleep?
In a 2019 study, researchers tested if the ashwagandha extract is safe and effective in people with insomnia. By using two groups, an experiment group that was using ashwagandha to sleep, and a placebo group, the study compared their data to find if the supplement helped participants improve their sleep quality. (1)
The results revealed that there was a significant increase in the experiment group leading to increased sleep efficiency, a longer total sleep time, and falling asleep faster while taking ashwagandha.
Overall the study concluded that ashwagandha is definitely a potential candidate for insomnia, improving sleep quality and sleep onset latency (time it takes to fall asleep). However, the study did note that there is limited research on the topic and more studies are needed to fully understand how the supplement can help improve sleep. (1)
Licenced sleep expert, Dr. Jennifer Silver at Macleod Trail Dental, told Sleepopolis that ashwagandha has become a popular supplement because it’s seen as a natural and holistic way to improve a variety of health issues.
“Its adaptogenic qualities make it appealing in our fast-paced, stressful world, which is why it’s become a trendy supplement,” Silver said.
She explains that while it is generally considered safe to use, it’s not the best choice when looking just for a sleep aid.
Instead, trying to find the root cause of one’s sleep troubles and finding a solution from there is normally best. When considering using ashwagandha or other supplements for sleep, its always wise to seek guidance from a doctor or sleep expert to avoid any potential problem that can arise.
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1. Langade D, Kanchi S, Salve J, Debnath K, Ambegaokar D. Efficacy and safety of ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) root extract in insomnia and anxiety: A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study. Cureus. Published online 2019. doi:10.7759/cureus.5797.
Silver, Jennifer. Personal Interview. October 2023.