Insomnia is a sleep condition that can make it difficult for people to fall asleep. Ashwagandha may treat sleep problems, such as insomnia, and other conditions, such as stress and anxiety.

Ashwagandha is an Ayurvedic herb that is native to Asia and Africa. People historically and commonly used it in traditional medicine, using the roots and fruit for conditions such as diabetes, pain, and general fatigue.

Although we need further research, some studies have found it has sleep-inducing potential and may improve sleep quality.

This article discusses how ashwagandha can help treat insomnia. It also talks about its benefits, risks, and other treatments.

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A 2021 systematic review states that ashwagandha seems to be effective for adults with insomnia, and it may also help reduce anxiety. The participants also felt more alert when they woke up.

In a 2020 study, ashwagandha extract improved the symptoms of nonrestorative sleep. Treatment lasted for about 6 weeks.

Another study found that a 12-week treatment of 600 milligrams (mg) of ashwagandha extract improved sleep quality in those aged between 65 and 80 years.

Learn more about insomnia here.

Ashwagandha contains compounds that may help people sleep better. A 2017 study found the active sleep-inducing component triethylene glycol increased nonrapid eye movement sleep in mice.

The herb also has withanolides, compounds that can help relieve stress. Stress can be a risk factor for insomnia. Some people may have negative thoughts before going to sleep, making it challenging to feel calm and fall asleep.

Research indicates that ashwagandha comes with several benefits:

  • Lowering stress and anxiety: For example, in one study, participants who took 250 milligrams (mg) or 600 mg of ashwagandha daily experienced lower stress and anxiety levels. It may also help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression in people with schizophrenia.
  • Improving sperm concentration: In a 2018 study, a 90-day treatment of ashwagandha improved sperm concentration, sperm motility, and semen volume. The participants did not experience any adverse effects.
  • Aiding inflammation: People may use ashwagandha to treat inflammation. This is because it contains withaferin A, a natural bioactive molecule that has anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties.

Participants of an older 2008 study who took ashwagandha extract for 60 days experienced a reduction in the C-reactive protein. This is a protein that the liver produces, and when there is inflammation in the body, its levels increase.

Low doses of ashwagandha may be safe to take, but there are no studies that discuss its safety for long-term use.

Taking large doses can irritate the gastrointestinal tract, increasing the risk of developing issues such as:

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) states that some Ayurvedic products may contain harmful ingredients, such as lead and mercury.

People with health conditions may consider seeking medical advice before starting treatment with ashwagandha. Studies indicate that it can increase testosterone levels which may not be safe for those who have hormone-sensitive prostate cancer.

Also, the herb may not suit those who take benzodiazepines or anticonvulsants, according to a 2012 study. It can interact with these drugs and cause a sedative or sleepy effect.

Ashwagandha is available in capsule and gummy form, and people can take it with or without meals. They can also use powders that they will mix with water.

Researchers have found that a dose of 125–600 mg seems to be safe for daily use.

A person may consider starting to take the herb at a low dose. If they do not experience any side effects, they can increase the dosage. However, it may be best to discuss this with a doctor before starting treatment.

Ashwagandha is an evergreen shrub that grows in India, Africa, and some parts of the Middle East. Researchers also refer to it as Indian ginseng or winter cherry.

People have been using it in Ayurvedic medicine for years. This is an ancient Indian medical system that uses natural products that come from plants or animals to treat physical and mental health problems.

The NCCIH estimates that there are around 240,000 people in the United States who use this type of treatment.

There are other treatment options for insomnia, including:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): This type of talk therapy can be effective for people with chronic insomnia. It may have the same benefits as sleep medications, but there are no side effects. Therapists help people learn to apply changes to improve their sleep and reduce anxiety levels.
  • Melatonin supplements: These may help address different conditions, such as anxiety, jet lag, and delayed sleep-wake phase disorder. However, side effects can occur, such as drowsiness, agitation, and nausea.
  • Medications: Sometimes, medical professionals recommend taking over-the-counter medications. These contain antihistamines that make people more prone to feeling sleepy.

Learn more about treatments for insomnia here.

Ashwagandha is a herbal medication that many people use for the treatment of different health conditions. Studies show that it can help treat insomnia and increase alertness upon waking up.

It may not be safe for those who take certain medications, and large doses can cause adverse effects, such as nausea and stomach upset.

A person may consult their doctor if they have sleeping problems so that they can provide a diagnosis and discuss the right treatment option.

Alongside this, speaking with a trained and certified Ayurvedic or Chinese herbal medicine practitioner may be beneficial. Many Ayurvedic and Chinese herbal medicine practitioners recommend ashwagandha that a person takes in formulation, or combination, with other herbs.