Studies prove Ashwagandha to be a natural compound with sleep-inducing potential
Insomnia or sleeplessness is a disorder that can impact a person’s physical health and mental wellbeing. In insomnia, the body cannot increase or decrease sleep regulating chemicals at the right time and in the right amounts.
There are several factors that disrupt sleep. Any imbalance in the body systems can adversely impact our sleep cycle. Stress is a major factor that disrupts our normal sleep cycle. Stress leads to an increase in cortisol levels in our body and makes the body to respond to stress. When the cortisol levels are high, it can force the body to stay active disrupting natural sleep cycle. It is found that people who suffer from insomnia have high levels of cortisol, particularly at night.
The drugs for insomnia that are currently available in the market have adverse effects. People, therefore, look for safe alternatives like herbal therapies that have no side effects. Ashwagandha has been proved to be an Ayurvedic rasayana and has the potential to treat insomnia safely and effectively.
Extract from Ashwagandha is a natural compound with sleep-inducing properties without any side effects. It is known to improve sleep quality and sleep onset latency in patients with insomnia. To determine the efficacy and safety of ashwagandha extract on people with insomnia, a study was conducted at Prakruti Hospital, Kalwa, Maharashtra, India.
Study by Prakruti Hospital
In the study conducted by Prakruti Hospital, Kalwa, 60 patients were randomly divided into two groups in a randomization ratio of 2:1. A capsule containing highest concentration of ashwagandha root extract of 300 mg was given to group A and group B was given identical capsule containing starch. Both the groups were given the medicine twice daily with milk or water for 10 weeks. Sleep actigraphy was used to assess sleep onset latency, total sleep time, sleep efficiency, and wake after sleep onset.
The result was quite encouraging. The sleep onset latency was improved in both the groups. However, the sleep onset latency was significantly shorter after 10 weeks with group A compared to Group B. Also, significant improvement in sleep efficiency was seen with the group given ashwagandha. Significant improvement in sleep quality was also observed with this group. So it was proved that all sleep parameters were improved with ashwagandha root extract treatment for 10 weeks.
Study by University of Tsukuba, Japan
A study by University of Tsukuba, Japan found that a component of ashwagandha leaves can significantly induce sleep. The research group led by Mahesh K. Kaushik and Yoshihiro Urade of the International Institute for Integrative Sleep Medicine (WPI-IIIS), University of Tsukuba, studied the effect of various components of ashwagandha on sleep in mice by recording electroencephalogram and electromyography.
The study found that the water extract of ashwagandha leaf contains triethylene glycol (TEG) that induce non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep and also changed rapid eye movement (REM) sleep slightly. Commercially available TEG was also found to increase the amount of NREM sleep. The researchers concluded that TEG is the active component that induces sound sleep.
Getting sound sleep is important for health as our body undergoes repairing while we sleep. Insomnia is caused because of the disruption in the body’s circadian rhythms (our body clock) or sleep-wake homeostasis, which is aligned with the day and night cycle.
Benefits of Ashwagandha
Many studies have proved that adaptogens help inspire a sound sleep. Adaptogens are herbs and plants that have been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine. One such powerful adaptogen with therapeutic benefits is ashwagandha. Studies have shown that ashwagandha has positive benefits on the endocrine, cardiopulmonary, and central nervous systems, with powerful anti-inflammatory, anti-stress, and antioxidant effects.
How ashwagandha treats insomnia
Ashwagandha corrects various systems in the body, including the immune system, neurological system, reproductive system, endocrinal system, and reproductive system.
According to Ayurveda, ashwagandha improves overall health and strength and helps to fight lethargy and fatigue. While, the herb improves functioning of thyroid and boosts metabolism, it also helps in warding off infections and helps in faster recovery due to its antibacterial and immune-modulating properties.
The herb also helps in dealing with stress by reducing stress hormone levels called cortisol in the body. Ashwagandha also has properties that can help in reducing and repairing damage to brain cells.
Due to these properties, ashwagandha is considered as an effective herb to cure insomnia