The Impact of Ashwagandha on Stress, Sleep Quality, and Food Cravings in College Students: Quantitative Analysis of a Double-Blind Randomized Control Trial

J Med Food. 2022 Dec;25(12):1086-1094. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2022.0040. Epub 2022 Aug 18.


The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of ashwagandha (ASH) (Withania somnifera) on sleep, perceived stress, and cravings in a college student population. Sixty healthy students were screened/enrolled into a 30-day double-blinded placebo (PLA)-controlled intervention (700 mg daily, full spectrum extract of ASH root). Anthropometrics, demographics, and validated questionnaires assessing physical activity, restorative sleep, perceived stress, and food cravings were assessed before and after the study. Descriptive statistics, Pearson's correlations, and point biserial correlations were used to screen the data. For sleep and stress, a nonsignificant mixed (group × time) multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) was followed by one-way MANOVA (time on sleep/stress) and one-way multivariate analysis of covariance (MANCOVA) (group on sleep/stress, using initial sleep as a covariate) as follow-up tests. Further follow-up tests for this MANCOVA showed group membership affected final sleep (58.4 ± 12.4 vs. 48.2 ± 15.0 ASH vs. PLA respectively, P < .05) using initial sleep as a covariate. Initial sleep (confounder) affected final stress, but not final sleep. Mixed analysis of variance (group × time) showed an interaction effect on food cravings, where the ASH group experienced lower cravings than the PLA group over time at end of study. The 30-day intervention was shorter than most other studies where more pronounced stress differences were seen at six weeks, indicating ASH may need the longer time period to show more pronounced stress relieving differences. ASH can be an effective safe intervention in young adult populations to help manage stress and its detrimental impacts on sleep and satiety in as little as 30 days. Clinical Trial Registration number-NCT05430685.

Keywords: ashwagandha; college students; craving; sleep; stress.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Craving
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Humans
  • Plant Extracts
  • Polyesters
  • Sleep Quality
  • Students
  • Withania*
  • Young Adult


  • Ashwagandha
  • Plant Extracts
  • Polyesters

Associated data