Medically Reviewed By Elizabeth A. Swick, MS, RDN
HOW TO GET BETTER SLEEP
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that adults aged 18 to 60 need roughly 7 hours of sleep per night and that seniors over 65 need 7 to 9 hours of sleep. Without enough sleep, you can suffer many health complications from poor concentration to an increased risk of obesity, depression, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes. Despite this advice, more than one-third of Americans don't get enough sleep every night.
For many individuals, the problem isn't a lack of knowledge. Many people go to bed with plenty of time to get at least seven hours of rest, but they fail to do so. Some toss and turn for hours and others suffer from poor sleep quality and wake up many times at night. These people need to get better sleep rather than more. While there are prescription sleep aids available, these products can cause side effects, which is why so many people are looking for a way to get better sleep naturally. Early research suggests that ashwagandha may be an effective natural sleep supplement. Read on to learn what it is and how it may work to improve sleep quality.
SLEEP, STRESS, AND INSOMNIA
There are many potential causes of insomnia, and stress is one of the most common causes. When you're stressed, your body produces the chemicals cortisol and adrenaline. These chemicals increase your heart rate and blood pressure so that you are ready to fight off a threat. Unfortunately, most modern-day stressors present nothing to fight. After all, you can't battle off pressure at work or the pain of a strained relationship. This means that levels of these body chemicals can stay elevated over a prolonged period of time. Because they excite your nervous system, the chemicals put you in an opposite state of the relaxed, calm one you need to be in to fall asleep fast, and they can cause you to wake up during the night.
WHAT IS ASHWAGANDHA?
Ashwagandha is an herb that Ayurvedic practitioners have used in India for centuries. Today, it is available in various dietary supplements that include standalone products and multi-ingredient formulas like Body Kitchen Stress Release.
WHAT IS AN ADAPTOGENIC HERB?
An adaptogenic herb is a type of natural botanical extract that is believed to defend the body from stress. The ways that adaptogens work vary, but most somehow counteract or interfere with the process of manufacturing and releasing stress hormones. As a result, they may naturally reduce stress. Ashwagandha is classified as an adaptogen or adaptogenic herb.
IS ASHWAGANDHA GOOD FOR SLEEP?
Clinical research indicates that ashwagandha may aid in sleep. In one study, 72 percent of participants slept better while taking the herb. Ashwagandha works differently than other sleep enhancers like melatonin. Melatonin is a brain chemical that helps control the sleep-wake cycle. Many people take the substance in supplement form to increase melatonin levels. This is effective for some individuals with insomnia, but it often takes several weeks to notice results. Ashwagandha doesn't rely on melatonin to deliver benefits. However, scientists still aren't sure what compounds in the herb are responsible for its actions.
WHAT IS TRIETHYLENE GLYCOL?
Triethylene glycol is a natural compound found in ashwagandha that some researchers believe may make the herb an answer for those seeking to learn how to get better sleep. One clinical study found that isolated trimethylene glycol increased non-rapid-eye movement sleep in mice and concluded that this could be why ashwagandha supports restful sleep.
Scientists have proposed other mechanisms of action for ashwagandha. Some believe that ashwagandha acts on specific brain receptors to help it shift from wakefulness to sleep. It's also possible that the withanolides in the herb that combat the effects of stress aid in relaxation, which allows the body naturally drift off to sleep. There may even be undiscovered chemicals in the herb that make it a potentially viable alternative to melatonin.
HOW MUCH ASHWAGANDHA DO YOU NEED FOR SLEEP?
Scientific studies involving ashwagandha for sleep use doses of 250 to 600 milligrams. In keeping with this research, Body Kitchen Stress Release delivers 600 milligrams of the herb per serving. Before taking this or any other ashwagandha supplement, it's important to talk to your doctor. Your health care provider can discuss your symptoms of poor sleep with you and recommend the proper dosage of ashwagandha to suit your needs.