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When to Take Ashwagandha for Sleep: Optimal Timing Guide

by Jason | June 20, 2024

Sleep problems are all too common in our fast-paced lives. In fact, a 2022 report found that 81% of Americans struggle with sleep. If you’re one of them, you might be seeking a natural solution.

Ashwagandha, an ancient herb, is gaining attention for its potential to enhance sleep. But timing is key.

In this guide, we’ll explore the best time to take Ashwagandha for optimal sleep and share tips for incorporating it into your routine.

Ashwagandha for Sleep

How Ashwagandha Affects Sleep

Ashwagandha’s sleep-enhancing properties stem from its unique ability to help the body adapt to stress. As an adaptogen, Ashwagandha works by modulating the body’s stress response, helping you maintain balance and resilience in the face of life’s challenges.

Adaptogens: Your Body’s Stress-Busting Allies

Adaptogens are like a thermostat for your stress levels. When stress gets too high, they dial it down, and when it dips too low, they give it a little boost. This balancing act is crucial for sleep because chronic stress can wreak havoc on your sleep patterns.

Ashwagandha and the Stress Response

When you’re stressed, your body releases cortisol, the “stress hormone.” While cortisol is essential for survival, chronically elevated levels can disrupt sleep. So we definitely want cortisol, but we also want to make sure it’s at proper levels.

Ashwagandha comes to the rescue by helping to regulate cortisol levels. A 2019 study published in the Cureus Journal of Medical Science found that Ashwagandha root extract significantly reduced cortisol levels in chronically stressed adults, leading to improvements in sleep quality and overall well-being.

But that’s not all. Ashwagandha also influences other pathways that promote sleep:

  • GABA Activation: Ashwagandha interacts with GABA receptors in the brain. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that promotes calmness and relaxation, making it easier to drift off to sleep. Research published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology suggests that Ashwagandha may enhance GABAergic activity, contributing to its sleep-promoting effects.
  • Anxiety Reduction: Beyond its effects on cortisol and GABA, Ashwagandha has also been shown to reduce anxiety, a common culprit behind sleepless nights. A study published in the Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine demonstrated that Ashwagandha root extract significantly reduced anxiety scores in participants compared to a placebo.

It would appear as if Ashwagandha creates a multi-pronged approach to improving sleep, making it a valuable tool for anyone struggling to get a good night’s rest.

Optimal Timing for Taking Ashwagandha for Sleep

While Ashwagandha can be taken at any time of day, research and anecdotal evidence suggest that taking it in the evening offers the most benefits for sleep improvement. This aligns with Ashwagandha’s natural properties and how it interacts with the body’s sleep-wake cycle.

Why Evening Intake is Ideal

Evening intake of Ashwagandha harnesses the herb’s calming and stress-reducing effects to prime your body for sleep. Here’s how it works:

  1. Cortisol Regulation: As mentioned earlier, Ashwagandha helps lower cortisol levels. Cortisol naturally follows a diurnal rhythm, peaking in the morning and gradually declining throughout the day. By taking Ashwagandha in the evening, you can further support this natural decline, helping you to relax.
  2. GABA Enhancement: Ashwagandha’s ability to increase GABA activity also contributes to better sleep. GABA is a neurotransmitter that promotes relaxation and reduces anxiety, making it easier to wind down and fall asleep in the evening.
  3. Sleep-Wake Cycle Support: Your body’s internal clock, known as the circadian rhythm, regulates sleep-wake cycles. Ashwagandha may help support this rhythm by promoting relaxation and reducing stress, both of which are crucial for healthy sleep patterns.

Scientific Evidence Supporting Evening Intake

Several studies have investigated the effects of Ashwagandha on sleep, with many pointing towards evening intake as the optimal time.

  • A 2019 study published in the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine found that participants who took Ashwagandha in the evening experienced significant improvements in sleep quality, including reduced sleep latency (the time it takes to fall asleep), increased sleep duration, and better overall sleep satisfaction.
  • Another study published in the Complementary Therapies in Medicine in 2021 found that Ashwagandha taken in the evening helped improve sleep quality in individuals with insomnia, with participants reporting less time awake during the night and better sleep efficiency.
  • In a randomized controlled trial published in the Cureus Journal of Medical Science in 2020, participants who took Ashwagandha in the evening for twelve weeks experienced significant reductions in stress and anxiety levels, both of which are known to interfere with sleep.

These studies, along with numerous anecdotal reports, suggest that taking Ashwagandha in the evening can be an effective strategy for improving sleep quality and promoting relaxation. However, it’s important to remember that individual responses may vary, and it’s always a good idea to experiment in order to find what works best for you.

Timing Considerations

While taking Ashwagandha in the evening is generally recommended for sleep, the specific timing can vary depending on individual preferences and the form of Ashwagandha you choose.

Ideal Window Before Bedtime

Most experts recommend taking Ashwagandha 1-2 hours before bedtime to allow it to start working its magic. This gives your body time to absorb the active compounds and begin its calming effects, preparing you for a restful night’s sleep.

However, it’s important to note that individual responses may vary. Some people may experience mild stimulation from Ashwagandha, while others may feel relaxed almost immediately. Pay attention to how your body reacts and adjust the timing accordingly. If you find that taking it too close to bedtime makes it harder to fall asleep, try taking it earlier in the evening. Conversely, if taking it too far away from bedtime makes you… let’s say, “useless” for the rest of the evening…you may want to wait until closer to bedtime. 

Recommendations for Different Forms

The form of Ashwagandha you choose can also influence the ideal timing:

  • Capsules: Capsules are a convenient and easy way to take Ashwagandha. We recommend trying them 1-2 hours before bed, with a glass of water or milk, to start with.
  • Powder: Ashwagandha powder can be mixed into warm milk, smoothies, or other beverages. If you choose this form, consider taking it 2 hours before bed to allow for digestion and absorption. It’s also best to start out with a small dose for the first week or two, just to see how you react. You can slowly increase it later.
  • Liquid Extract: Liquid extracts are a concentrated form of Ashwagandha and can be taken directly or mixed into water. They are generally absorbed faster than capsules or powder, so you may want to take them 1 hour before bed.

Experiment with different forms and timings to find what works best for you. Remember, the goal is to find a routine that fits into your lifestyle and promotes restful sleep.

Dosage and Administration for Sleep Benefits

Finding the right Ashwagandha dosage for sleep can be a bit of a balancing act. It’s important to start with a lower dose and gradually increase it as needed.

General Dosage Guidelines

A typical starting dose for sleep is around 300 mg. Some studies have used higher doses, ranging from 500mg to 600mg per day, but it’s best to start low and go slow to gauge your individual tolerance.

Look for Ashwagandha supplements that are standardized to contain a specific percentage of withanolides, the active compounds responsible for its beneficial effects. A standardization of 2.5-5% withanolides is often considered a good starting point.

Importance of Personalized Advice

While these general guidelines can be helpful, it’s crucial to consult with your healthcare provider to determine the optimal dosage for you. They can take into account your individual health history, current medications, and any underlying conditions to tailor the dosage to your specific needs.


  • Don’t exceed the recommended dosage without consulting your healthcare provider.
  • Pay attention to how your body reacts and adjust the dosage as needed.
  • Be patient. It may take a few weeks of consistent use to see noticeable improvements in sleep quality.

By working with your healthcare provider and following these guidelines, you can safely and effectively incorporate Ashwagandha into your sleep routine and experience its potential benefits for a more restful night’s sleep.

Forms of Ashwagandha Suitable for Sleep

Ashwagandha comes in various forms, each with its own advantages and potential benefits for sleep. Let’s explore the most common forms and how to choose the best one for your needs:


  • Convenience: Ashwagandha capsules are the most popular and convenient form. They’re pre-measured, easy to swallow, and portable, making them a great option for those on the go.
  • Dosage Control: Capsules offer precise dosage control, ensuring you’re getting the exact amount you need each time.
  • Effectiveness: Capsules are generally considered effective for sleep, as they allow for consistent dosing and easy absorption.


  • Versatility: Ashwagandha powder can be mixed into various foods and beverages like smoothies, warm milk, or oatmeal. This makes it a good choice for those who prefer a more customizable approach.
  • Absorption: Some people find that powder form is absorbed more readily by the body, leading to faster effects.
  • Taste and Texture: The taste and texture of Ashwagandha powder can be off-putting for some. However, it can be masked by mixing it with other ingredients.

Tinctures (Liquid Extracts)

  • Fast-Acting: Tinctures are absorbed quickly by the body, potentially offering faster relief for sleep issues.
  • Flexible Dosage: You can easily adjust the dosage by adding more or fewer drops to your water or other beverages.
  • Taste: Tinctures often have a strong, earthy taste that some people find unpleasant.

Choosing the Best Form for You

The best form of Ashwagandha for sleep depends on your personal preferences and lifestyle:

  • Convenience: If convenience is a priority, capsules are a great choice. They’re easy to take and can be easily incorporated into your daily routine.
  • Versatility: If you enjoy experimenting with different recipes and beverages, Ashwagandha powder offers more versatility.
  • Fast-Acting: If you’re looking for quick relief, tinctures may be the way to go.
  • Taste and Texture: If you’re sensitive to taste or texture, capsules may be the most palatable option.

Ultimately, the best form is the one you’re most likely to take consistently. Experiment with different forms to see which one you prefer and fits seamlessly into your lifestyle.

Potential Side Effects and Precautions

While Ashwagandha is generally safe for most people when taken in moderation, it’s important to be aware of potential side effects and take precautions to ensure safe usage.

Possible Side Effects

  • Digestive Issues: The most common side effects of Ashwagandha are mild digestive issues, such as upset stomach, diarrhea, and nausea. These typically occur with higher doses and can often be managed by taking Ashwagandha with food (or with a lower dose).
  • Drowsiness: It’s a sleep aid, so it should come as no surprise that Ashwagandha can cause drowsiness in some individuals, especially when taken in the evening. If you experience this side effect, try taking a lower dose or taking it earlier in the day.
  • Interactions with Medications: Ashwagandha may interact with certain medications, such as thyroid medications, blood sugar medications, and immunosuppressants. It’s crucial to talk to your doctor before taking Ashwagandha if you’re taking any other medications.
  • Allergic Reactions: In rare cases, Ashwagandha can cause allergic reactions in people who are sensitive to plants in the nightshade family (such as tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers). Symptoms may include skin rash, itching, or difficulty breathing.

Tips for Safe Usage

  • Start with a low dose: Begin with a low dose of Ashwagandha (e.g., 300 mg) and gradually increase it as needed. This can help your body adjust and minimize the risk of side effects.
  • Take with food: Taking Ashwagandha with food can help prevent stomach upset and improve absorption.
  • Consult your doctor: If you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, have any underlying health conditions, or are taking medications, it’s essential to consult with your healthcare provider before taking Ashwagandha.
  • Monitor your body’s response: Pay attention to how your body reacts to Ashwagandha and adjust the dose or timing accordingly. If you experience any adverse effects, stop taking it and consult your doctor.

By following these precautions and working with your healthcare provider, you can safely enjoy the potential benefits of Ashwagandha for sleep and overall well-being.

Who Should Avoid Ashwagandha?

While Ashwagandha is generally safe for most people, certain individuals should exercise caution or avoid using it altogether:

  • Pregnant or Breastfeeding Women: There’s limited research on the safety of Ashwagandha during pregnancy and breastfeeding, so it’s best to err on the side of caution and avoid it during these periods.
  • People with Autoimmune Diseases: Ashwagandha may stimulate the immune system, which could potentially worsen symptoms of autoimmune diseases like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis. Consult your doctor before using Ashwagandha if you have an autoimmune condition.
  • Individuals Taking Certain Medications: Ashwagandha can interact with various medications, including thyroid medications, blood sugar medications, blood pressure medications, and sedatives. Always talk to your doctor if you’re taking any prescription medications to ensure there are no potential interactions.
  • Individuals with Thyroid Disorders: Ashwagandha may affect thyroid hormone levels, so individuals with thyroid conditions should consult their doctor before using it.
  • Those Undergoing Surgery: It’s recommended to stop taking Ashwagandha at least two weeks before any scheduled surgery, as it may interfere with anesthesia and wound healing.

If you have any concerns about using Ashwagandha, talk to your doctor. He or she can assess your individual situation and help you determine whether it’s a safe and appropriate option for you.

Final Words

Ashwagandha offers a promising natural approach to improving sleep quality, especially when taken in the evening. By harnessing its adaptogenic properties and ability to regulate cortisol and GABA levels, Ashwagandha can help you relax, unwind, and enjoy a more restful night’s sleep.

Remember, finding the optimal timing and dosage for your individual needs may require some experimentation. None of us are robots, and all of us react slightly differently to the same things. It’s also vital to consult with your healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen, especially if you have any underlying health conditions or are taking medications.

By prioritizing your health and exploring natural solutions like Ashwagandha, you can take proactive steps towards achieving better sleep and overall well-being. Sweet dreams!


How long does it take for Ashwagandha to improve sleep?

The time it takes to see improvements in sleep quality can vary depending on individual factors and the severity of your sleep issues. Some people may notice subtle changes within a few days, while others may take a few weeks of consistent use to experience the full benefits. Be patient and consistent with your Ashwagandha regimen, and don’t hesitate to adjust the dosage or timing as needed in consultation with your healthcare provider.

Can you take Ashwagandha with other sleep medications?

Ashwagandha may interact with certain sleep medications, so it’s important to talk to your doctor before combining them. He or she can assess potential interactions and help you determine the safest and most effective approach for managing your sleep.

Is it safe to take Ashwagandha every night?

Ashwagandha is generally considered safe for most people when taken in moderation and as directed. However, long-term studies on its safety are limited. It’s always best to consult with your healthcare provider to determine the appropriate dosage and duration of use for your individual needs.