Whether you're a veteran of supplements or you're just now digging into the world of ashwagandha, you may have picked up a new product recently and want to know how to try it out.
Supplements like ashwagandha come in a wide range of compositions. Some of them are purely one herb, while others include a dozen different supplements balanced to bring a variety of benefits to your body. Still, others are focused on one purpose; giving you energy, calming your mind, reducing inflammation, or whatever else you're seeking.
You'll certainly have some questions that can be answered by the instructions for the supplement. Some might say "take after a workout" or "take whenever you're feeling down", but others might be as simple as "take once a day." The only question remaining is when?
Should you take ashwagandha when you get up, some time during the day, or at night? Let's investigate.
A Simple Answer
We like to give you a simple answer to any general question if we can. In this case, you can take ashwagandha whenever you like. It's fine to take in the morning, it's fine to take in the evening, and anywhere in between. The trick is, that's just ashwagandha. Ashwagandha alone is a supplement that helps balance out your systems; it can calm anxiety, but it doesn't make you drowsy. It can give you energy, but it doesn't keep you awake.
Unfortunately, most ashwagandha supplements are not just ashwagandha. They are mixtures of anywhere from five to 30 different ingredients, ranging from reishi mushrooms to protein powder to caffeine.
Thus, in order to know when you should take your ashwagandha, you need to know what's in it.
Picking the Right Product
Ashwagandha supplements can broadly be divided into four categories.
- Pure ashwagandha. These are supplements that have nothing in them except ashwagandha and are both more concentrated and less variable in function.
- General ashwagandha supplements. These are supplements like our Golden Ashwagandha, which are made up of a wide variety of beneficial ingredients. They aren't engineered for any specific purpose; rather, they're for a holistic boost to all of your bodily systems.
- Energy ashwagandha supplements. These are supplements that include ingredients like caffeine, maca, green tea extract, protein powder, and other similar compounds. They are generally used as early morning supplements, or pre or post-workout supplements. They give you energy and are generally not appropriate to take in the evening.
- Calming ashwagandha supplements. These are supplements that serve the opposite purpose. They include ingredients like valerian root, melatonin, Rhodiola, b-complex vitamins, and other calming herbs. They tend to make you sleepy and are best taken in the evening before bed.
Thus, before you can know when you should take your ashwagandha, you should know why you want to take it.
Ashwagandha can have a number of defined benefits, though those benefits are still being studied and have not been evaluated by the FDA. Traditional medicine and contemporary use support the ideas that the herb can be used for:
- Energy. Ashwagandha has been used to bolster energy for thousands of years.
- Concentration. Ashwagandha is often a nootropic, aimed at bolstering cognitive function.
- Reduced blood sugar. Ashwagandha has been shown in some studies to help regulate insulin and lower blood sugar.
- Stress relief. Ashwagandha is a potent anti-cortisol compound and helps your body deal with stress more effectively.
- Antidepressant. Ashwagandha is often used to treat anxiety, and since anxiety and depression are two sides of the same coin, what treats one often treats the other.
- Sexual health. Ashwagandha has been observed to boost testosterone production, and can potentially increase male sexual performance and fertility.
- Muscle growth. Ashwagandha is a nutrient-rich herb that is commonly used as part of a mixture including protein powder, to promote muscle growth after workouts.
Picking the right version of an ashwagandha supplement is critical here. You don't want to pick an anti-anxiety supplement to use before or after a workout, because it doesn't have the other supplements and compounds you need for boosting your energy and restoring your damaged muscles. Conversely, you don't want to use a protein-rich, energy-boosting supplement to calm yourself down before bed.
Ashwagandha for Sleep
One of the most common uses for ashwagandha, in general, is to calm anxieties, lower stress, and help promote a deeper, more restful sleep. It does this by fighting off cortisol, the stress hormone when it enters your bloodstream. The chemistry behind this is still being studied, but various experiments have shown that people taking ashwagandha at night have generally deeper and better-quality sleep.
If you want to take ashwagandha to promote better sleep, you have two options. You can take a pure ashwagandha supplement, or you can take an ashwagandha supplement that has sleep-promoting ingredients.
Ashwagandha on its own does not make you drowsy. You can take it at any time and have no fear of dulled reaction times, and it's not dangerous to operate machinery. However! Some ashwagandha supplements contain ingredients like melatonin, diphenhydramine, and valerian root, which do make you drowsy. Always make sure you know what's in your supplement before you take it!
Ashwagandha for Stress
Ashwagandha in general is a great supplement to help fight off stress. Pretty much any version of ashwagandha is going to give you what you want in reducing overall cortisol, inflammation, and oxidative stress levels.
However, you may want to watch out for some of the energy-boosting supplements on the market that contain stimulants like caffeine. These supplements will boost energy levels but may cause a crash later, and they may not be as effective at reducing stress as other varieties. In general, we recommend something like our own blend for anti-stress or a simple pure ashwagandha supplement.
Ashwagandha for Workouts
Ashwagandha has been used in a variety of different blends to help promote working out, in several different ways.
- They give you more energy in a way that isn't as harsh on the system as a pure caffeine supplement. L-theanine and other ingredients help level off the rush of caffeine and keep the energy going longer, and ashwagandha itself helps promote natural energy production from stored fat.
- The addition of ingredients like protein powder helps promote a post-workout recovery while minimizing side effects like DOMS, post-workout fatigue, and soreness. Ashwagandha itself is known for promoting muscle growth, making it a good addition to any workout supplement, but in particular the post-workout supplements.
- The stress-reducing effects of ashwagandha are a potent way to help reduce the fatigue and soreness that comes with working out. As anyone who has worked out and fallen off the wagon before knows, it can be difficult to work up motivation knowing the soreness in store for them. Ashwagandha helps reduce this effect and keeps up motivation.
As such, you can find a lot of different ashwagandha supplements on the market that will aim specifically at working out. Just make sure to follow the directions on these, and know what is in them before you take them. Some of the stronger supplements have a lot of caffeine in them, and that means they can be dangerous to take in large doses.
Ashwagandha for Energy
Ashwagandha has a few different potential benefits for energy levels. On its own, it is a good supplement for helping you fight off many of the effects in life that make it harder to get up and move.
- Poor sleep
All of these put a damper on your ongoing energy levels. Ashwagandha can help with all of these on its own. It might not be a huge, dramatic impact the same way a regimen of targeted medications would be, but at the same time, the side effects are much smaller.
Additionally, many energy-boosting ashwagandha supplements contain additional ingredients that help with the same effects.
Taking an ashwagandha supplement in the morning is best for energy levels. It's not quite comparable to something like coffee for giving you the energy to get moving, but it's still quite effective, especially once you've gotten the hang of it.
On top of this, some people – particularly men – find that ashwagandha helps them with sexual performance, wellness, and vigor. Increasing testosterone production can increase energy and drive, which can be beneficial, but may make you a little more focused on certain activities if you know what we mean.
Taking Ashwagandha Multiple Times Daily
One question you might have is whether or not it's safe to take ashwagandha more than once per day. The answer is: it depends.
If your supplement says to take it once per day, you can take it more than once if you divide the dose. For example, if a supplement says "take two scoops once per day", you can take one scoop in the morning and one scoop in the evening. Each individual dose will be less effective than the single larger dose, but it will help level off your hormonal levels and balance your systems throughout the day rather than with one spike that fades over time.
If your supplement is focused on energy or sleep, you should only take it at the appropriate time. If a supplement promotes sleep, only take it in the evening. Even if it doesn't include ingredients that make you drowsy, taking it in the morning means it will have worked its way through your system and will not be there to promote better sleep in the evening when you want it.
Conversely, taking ashwagandha in the evening when it's meant to promote energy levels is more likely to keep you awake. Again, pure ashwagandha is not going to do this – you can take it in the evening just fine – but any energy-boosting supplements that include caffeine or other stimulants will make it much more difficult to sleep.
Make sure to keep an eye on every ingredient and the maximum daily dose you should take. This is especially true if you like to take supplements that have multiple ingredients. You might not get a lot of a given ingredient in any one supplement, but if you take four different supplements throughout the day and they all include that ingredient, you might end up taking more than the generally recommended dose. Again, always know what is in your supplements!
Side Effects and Warnings
Any supplement that has an impact on your body is going to have side effects, that's just the nature of bioactive compounds. If they didn't affect your body, they wouldn't work!
Ashwagandha is generally safe for most people, but there are a few cases where you might want to cut it out of your diet, at least for a while.
If you're pregnant or trying to become pregnant, it's not a good supplement for you. Where ashwagandha can help men be more fertile and perform better in bed, it can cause issues with women that can lead to a lost pregnancy.
High doses of ashwagandha have caused some digestive issues in some people. If you experience diarrhea, cramping, stomach aches, or vomiting, consider lowering your dose and taking it throughout the day instead of all at once.
Some people, particularly those with autoimmune diseases and disorders, might want to avoid ashwagandha. There have been some reports of issues and interactions with immunosuppressants, antidepressants, sedatives, and a few other medications. If you're on any of these kinds of medications, consider talking to your doctor before taking ashwagandha.
Finally, in very rare cases, ashwagandha may be associated with liver damage. This is typically not because of ashwagandha, which is safe for the liver, but because the supplements are unregulated and contaminated. Always make sure you trust who you're getting your supplements from.
So, should you take ashwagandha? Yes! When should you take it? Whenever you want! As long as you know why you want to take it, and you get a supplement blend that does that function for you, take it as directed. Pure ashwagandha, well, you can take that whenever you like.
Do you currently take ashwagandha? What kind are you taking and for what purpose? Do you find it effective for your needs? Be sure to leave us a comment down below with your stories!