Sep 14, 2023

Does Ashwagandha Make You Sleepy?

Young woman falling asleep while stirring coffee

You need some sleep support. You wake up lethargic, and your coworkers aren’t fans of you falling asleep during conferences and Zoom calls. Bottom line: you need something to help regulate your sleep cycle without making you feel foggy-headed in the morning. 

Introducing ashwagandha, a popular herb in Ayurvedic medicine used by ancient cultures to support the entire body, and now backed with science that helps us understand why it works so well. 

Ashwagandha berries

What Is Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha  (Withania somnifera) is a small shrub with red berries that is also referred to as Indian ginseng and winter cherry. It's a staple in the practice of Ayurveda (the traditional medicine of India) because of its ability to support energy levels, improve endurance and stamina, and help support the body’s natural stress response. 

Support for energy and stamina may seem a little counterintuitive to the cause here, especially if you’re relying on ashwagandha for sleep support. Don’t worry, we’ll explain. 

What Are the Health Benefits of Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb. Adaptogens help regulate the body’s nervous system, hormonal systems and our natural stress response, and in turn, support balanced functioning of our body’s systems, including maintaining balanced immune function and cortisol levels

Cortisol is a stress hormone that helps activate our fight-or-flight response (that is, our body’s response to stress in which the sympathetic nervous system is activated by a release of hormones to speed up your heart rate, deliver more blood to areas of your body that need more oxygen, and otherwise help your body respond to the perceived threat). While our flight-or-fight response can be helpful, uncontrolled stress levels can lead to chronic stress, which can cause long-term health issues, sleep disorders, and even affect cognition.

In addition to stress support, ashwagandha also helps support cognitive function. Ashwagandha also has antioxidant properties, which means it can help protect the body against oxidative stress and cell damage from free radicals. 

Used as a global elixir for the body as a whole, Ashwagandha is commonly used in Ayurveda to enhance immunity, and early research suggests that ashwagandha supports balanced immune function via several mechanisms, including by inhibiting excessive inflammation. 

Of all its many benefits, one of the best known is that ashwagandha can help support sleep. Before you write it off as just another natural remedy (like melatonin), it’s important to understand what that means and how ashwagandha works. 

Young woman sleeping in bed

Can Ashwagandha Improve Sleep Quality?

The short answer is yes; ashwagandha can improve sleep quality. Now for the long answer (and why you shouldn’t be afraid that ashwagandha will make you feel tired during the day). 

As an adaptogen, ashwagandha works best when used over time, as it has a gradual, cumulative effect on the body. Used consistently, it helps bring balance to various pieces of the health puzzle, like stress response, mood, and, yes, sleep.

How ashwagandha supports sleep is a little harder to dissect. It contains a compound called triethylene glycol, which is suspected to play a role in helping regulate the body’s sleep function. It’s important to note, however, that this is only a hypothesis based on early research, and more research is needed to confirm this finding.

In addition, ashwagandha supports sleep in a very specific way. Notably, ashwagandha helps support sleep quality and sleep quantity, meaning it helps your body cycle through more essential sleep phases (like NREM and REM).

It’s important to note that these studies do not indicate that ashwagandha is sleep-inducing. In other words, ashwagandha doesn’t have a sedative effect and doesn’t cause drowsiness when you take it. Instead, it helps recalibrate your sleep cycles over time. 

Taking ashwagandha won’t make you feel tired like traditional sleep aids, and it works best when used consistently.

Overhead shot of powdered ashwagandha

How Can You Take Ashwagandha for Better Sleep?

It’s entirely up to you and your lifestyle when you take ashwagandha. Because it supports total body homeostasis and helps regulate energy levels as well as sleep cycles, the research suggests that you can take it in the morning or in the evening and still get the same beneficial results. 

Choose Your Supplement

Ashwagandha supplements are not regulated by the FDA, which means it’s really important to trust the company selling them. At JOYÀ, we are meticulous about our ingredients and ensure third-party testing so you can be certain about the ingredients in our Functional Chocolates.

In order for your body to be able to utilize ashwagandha’s medicinal compounds, you’ll want to use an ashwagandha root extract (which means that these compounds have been extracted from the root’s cell walls). 

Ashwagandha root extract can be found in several formats, such as ashwagandha powders, supplement capsules, and gummies. Keep in mind that some of these (like gummies) may contain added dyes, refined sugars, and preservatives you don’t want. JOYÀ Functional Chocolates contain none of these, so you get pure adaptogenic power and nothing that could spike your blood sugar levels

You can find ashwagandha in JOYÀ's  Balance Functional Chocolate, along with reishi mushroom, cacao, and cacao butter. Support your immune function and fight stress with this indulgent, low-sugar power-treat. 

Overhead shot of JOYÀ's Balance Functional Chocolate

With JOYÀ, it’s easy to add ashwagandha to your daily routine in a way that is both delicious and nutritious. You’ll love the taste, which makes it easy to stay consistent. Consistency is important to reap the benefits you want. 

Stay Consistent

This can’t be stressed enough. Ashwagandha works best when it is taken consistently, which means taking it daily. You won’t notice the results of ashwagandha right away, but over time you’ll notice a gradual shift in your ability to sleep better. 

You’ll also notice more mental clarity and focus, improved energy levels, and bolstered immunity. Consistency can help your body maintain consistent levels of wellness. 

Rule Out Medical Conditions

Before you start any new supplement, it’s important to get medical advice from your healthcare provider. Herbal supplements can be incredibly beneficial to add to your personal health stack, but your healthcare professional should always know about the supplements you take. 

Some medications may interact with ashwagandha, so if you take medication, your pharmacist and/or doctor can help you decide if ashwagandha will be a good fit for you. 

What Are the Possible Side Effects of Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha is generally very well tolerated and has a very low risk of side effects. If taken in high doses, it can sometimes produce an upset stomach.

If you have thyroid issues, an autoimmune disease, or unregulated blood pressure issues, speak to your healthcare professional first before taking an ashwagandha supplement. Also, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s best to wait to take ashwagandha until your pregnancy and breastfeeding are complete since we currently don’t have enough information on how this herb affects pregnancy.

The Bottom Line

No, ashwagandha won’t make you sleepy, but it will help you sleep better over time. Taking ashwagandha daily is the best way to get the restorative, balancing benefits of this powerful adaptogen

When you’re ready to regain your equilibrium, trust JOYÀ to get you there conveniently and deliciously. We create products that support your long-term health, so you can feel better and improve your overall well-being

An Overview on Ashwagandha: A Rasayana (Rejuvenator) of Ayurveda | PMC
The immunomodulatory role of withania somnifera (L.) dunal in inflammatory diseases | PMC
Clinical evaluation of the pharmacological impact of ashwagandha root extract on sleep in healthy volunteers and insomnia patients: A double-blind, randomized, parallel-group, placebo-controlled study | PMC 
Effect of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) extract on sleep: A systematic review and meta-analysis | PMC 
Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) Root Extract in Insomnia and Anxiety: A Double-blind, Randomized, Placebo-controlled Study | PMC 
What Is Ayurveda and Does It Work? | Cleveland Clinic
Effects of Eight-Week Supplementation of Ashwagandha on Cardiorespiratory Endurance in Elite Indian Cyclists | PMC 
Physiology, Cortisol | NCBI Bookshelf
Stress Effects on the Body | American Psychological Association
Free Radicals, Antioxidants and Functional Foods: Impact on Human Health | PMC
Effects of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) on Physical Performance: Systematic Review and Bayesian Meta-Analysis | PMC
Effect of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) extract on sleep: A systematic review and meta-analysis | PMC
Ashwagandha | NCCIH