If you’re into health and wellness supplements, it’s very likely you’ve heard of ashwagandha. There is a lot of recent hype around this herb, with many people saying it can reduce stress, improve athletic performance, aid sleep, and even promote better brain function.
Yet, everyone is different, and we know ashwagandha doesn’t work the same for all people. Furthermore, the time you take ashwagandha is important because it can affect the benefits you get.
That’s why, in this article, we explain the best time of day to take ashwagandha and other relevant factors. You’ll see how it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach but rather depends on your intended goals, lifestyle, and other factors.
What is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is a small shrub native to India, North Africa, and the Middle East.
Ashwagandha has been used in Ayurvedic medicine and other traditional systems for thousands of years, mainly due to its adaptogenic properties, which means it can counter stress and keep the body in balance. In fact, ashwagandha is one of the most important herbs in Ayurveda, as it is said to deliver a huge range of health benefits.
Research has started to confirm these benefits over the years. And it seems that a group of compounds called withanolides are responsible for most of ashwagandha’s effects.
These are found mainly in the roots, which is why supplements (at least the good ones) use standardized ashwagandha root extracts to give you the greatest benefits.
Ashwagandha has a wide range of potential benefits, most of which stem from this plant’s adaptogenic properties.
As an adaptogen, ashwagandha can keep the body’s internal health on point, even during high-stress times. Specifically, ashwagandha can keep cortisol and stress hormones in balance, control inflammation, and ensure that your nervous system isn’t put into overdrive.
And over time, this can lead to several benefits. The most well-researched ones are reduced stress and anxiety. But ashwagandha also seems to improve sleep, boost cognitive function, increase testosterone, and enhance endurance and exercise performance.
What Time of Day Should You Take Ashwagandha?
You can take ashwagandha at any time of day, whether that’s in the morning, afternoon, or at night.
With that said, there is likely an optimal time for YOU based on your individual goals and circumstances.
The primary thing to consider is your goals and intended usage.
So, with that said, here are some guidelines on when to take ashwagandha:
- For general stress management: In the morning and/or afternoon
- For sleep support: A couple of hours before bed or sometime in the evening
- For improved exercise performance: 30 to 60 minutes before a workout
- For improved cognitive function: In the morning and/or afternoon
Importantly, you don’t NEED to take ashwagandha at these exact times to still experience any benefits, because ashwagandha has pretty broad effects. But taking ashwagandha at times most closely associated with your goals will likely lead to greater benefits compared to a non-individualized regimen.
Based on research, most people should take anywhere from 300 to 600mg per day, either just once or split into two doses.
The total range actually goes from as low as 100mg up to 12g, but most individuals are better off starting in a more moderate range and then working up or down from there depending on their results.
Also, it’s important to get a high-quality supplement because this ensures that you’re getting the most bang for your buck. Specifically, look for products that use only ashwagandha root extract and that are standardized to contain 5 to 10% withanolides.
Should You Cycle Ashwagandha?
You may want to cycle Ashwagandha to maintain the benefits. Obviously, ashwagandha is natural, and it isn’t a steroid or a more potent chemical compound.
But still, it’s possible to develop a tolerance even to herbal supplements, which is why cycling may make sense.
To do this, you could take ashwagandha for 4 to 12 weeks, followed by a 1 to 3-week break. Whichever option you choose, the ratio should be roughly 4:1 for days on to days off.
Again, you don’t need to get too caught up in the minutiae of cycling. Just understand that taking occasional time off from it may help your body resensitize to ashwagandha’s effects.
Is Ashwagandha Safe?
Ashwagandha is generally recognized as safe. But there are potential side effects, such as:
- Anhedonia (loss of pleasure)
- Upset stomach
- Other digestive symptoms
- Allergic reactions
- Blurred vision
It’s important to stay within the recommended dosage range to minimize any side effects. And as always, consult your doctor or healthcare practitioner before starting any supplement.
Conclusion: When to Take Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha has many potential health benefits, including stress, sleep, anxiety, exercise, and brain function. You can take it at any time of the day, but taking it at a specific time relative to your desired health benefits seems to be the best approach.
Overall, when ashwagandha is taken at the right time and in the right dose, you have a greater chance of experiencing all of the benefits it has to offer.