Effect of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) extract on sleep: A systematic review and meta-analysis

PLoS One. 2021 Sep 24;16(9):e0257843. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0257843. eCollection 2021.


Objective: To determine the effect of Ashwagandha extract on sleep.

Methods: A comprehensive search was conducted in CENTRAL, MEDLINE, SCOPUS, Google Scholars, World Health Organization Trials Portal, ClinicalTrials.gov, Clinical Trial Registry of India, and AYUSH Research Portal for all appropriate trials. Randomized controlled trials that examined the effect of Ashwagandha extract versus placebo on sleep in human participants 18 years old and above were considered. Two authors independently read all trials and independently extracted all relevant data. The primary outcomes were sleep quantity and sleep quality. The secondary outcomes were mental alertness on rising, anxiety level, and quality of life.

Results: A total of five randomized controlled trials containing 400 participants were analyzed. Ashwagandha extract exhibited a small but significant effect on overall sleep (Standardized Mean Difference -0.59; 95% Confidence Interval -0.75 to -0.42; I2 = 62%). The effects on sleep were more prominent in the subgroup of adults diagnosed with insomnia, treatment dosage ≥600 mg/day, and treatment duration ≥8 weeks. Ashwagandha extract was also found to improve mental alertness on rising and anxiety level, but no significant effect on quality of life. No serious side effects were reported.

Conclusion: Ashwagandha extract appears to has a beneficial effect in improving sleep in adults. However, data on the serious adverse effects of Ashwagandha extract are limited, and more safety data would be needed to assess whether it would be safe for long-term use.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety / drug therapy*
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Humans
  • Plant Extracts / administration & dosage*
  • Plant Extracts / adverse effects
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Quality of Life
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Sleep / drug effects*
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / psychology


  • Plant Extracts
  • Ashwagandha

Grants and funding

This is an unfunded study.