We all know the detriments of not getting enough sleep. Sleep is one of the most important engagements for the body. As a parasympathetic experience, it is a time deep relaxation, repair and rejuvenation.
A lack of restorative sleep can result in fatigue, mood imbalances like anxiety, depression, and irritability, mental/cognitive impairments, decreased physical performance, weight gain, pain, and others.
Most of the time, conventional treatment for chronic sleep problems resorts to the use and reliance on harsh pharmaceuticals. However, as of recently, there are many non-pharmacologic protocols being developed to provide natural alternatives to drug-based approaches.
Some of these protocols include practical lifestyle adjustments, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), stimulus control therapy as well as the use of various supplements, and herbal/botanical therapies. Especially when combined, these are oftentimes more effectively and definitely safer than the use of pharmaceuticals.
For anyone interested in improving sleep quality in a natural, effective and safe manner, one simple place to start is with the renowned herb Ashwagandha.
What is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha is a revered herb from the Ancient Indian practice of medicine known as Ayurveda. Traditionally, it is has been used as the premier anti-stress herb, inducing a calming, relaxed yet energizing state. Although considered an adaptogen, and not a sedative, its name "somnifera" literally means “sleep-inducing.”
Ashwagandha and Sleep
There are a few mechanisms to Ashwagandha that have a beneficial effect on improving sleep. Generally speaking, as an "adaptogen" it has a modulating effect on the endocrine system, meaning it can assist the body in re-balancing the hormones in a way that promotes homeostasis.
As a nervine, Ashwagandha can help to promote a more "parasympathetic" or relaxed state that is ideal for addressing fatigue, and stress-induced sleep or energy problems at the root.
Keep in mind, good sleep requires energy. This sounds counter-productive, but we do not mean energy in a stimulating sense but more so, in the sense that your cells and organs need energy to function and promote sleep.
As an adaptogen, ashwagandha can help to reduce stress, which is perhaps the greatest enemy to good sleep. Stress hormones like cortisol impair thyroid function and energy production, which makes our body generally too exhausted and too stimulated to sleep.
But according to study, a group of people that was given the high-concentration full-spectrum Ashwagandha root extract exhibited a significant reduction in serum cortisol levels. 1
Furthermore, ashwagandha is a GABA agonist, and GABA is an important neurotransmitter for entering that relaxed parasympathetic state. In study, pretreatment with 100 mg. extract of Ashwagandha extract was found to significantly improve electrophysiological parameters, which suggests the involvement of GABAergic mechanism in the sleep promoting effect of Withania somniferra in sleep-disturbed state. 2
When it comes to good quality sleep, more importantly than the quality of our mattress is the balance of our biology. Ashwgandha extract fortunately is regarded as safe for daily use to support the biological parameters necessary for sound sleep. According to the research, between 100-500 mg. of a full-spectrum extract is recommended. Ayurvedic tradition recommends taking Ashwagandha in warm milk with raw honey for improved effects.
Try this sleep tonic recipe out for a simple way to utilize Ashwagandha for sleep.