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  • Writer's pictureAshley T

How I Cured My Insomnia With “Indian Ginseng”

When sleeping pills, sleep hygiene, & melatonin couldn’t help me…




It all started when I made a visit to a sleep doctor describing how I have to take a prescription sedative just to fall asleep.


How I tried everything from special sleeping lamps…


$80 sleep masks…


Expensive TCM herbs…


Higher and higher doses of melatonin…


ALL with zero success.


I also exercise and am quite healthy, so I couldn't figure out why I couldn't sleep.


The doctor’s advice?


  • Stop looking at my phone at night

  • Eat more regularly

  • Take a warm shower before bed

  • Drink warm lemon balm or chamomile tea

  • Keep my room as dark as possible


What a waste of my $450!


I’ve tried everything she suggested and more before — trust me, nothing’s worked.


The worst part?


I developed even MORE stress from not being able to sleep, which I’m sure was preventing me from sleeping…


After that very expensive but useless consultation…


I resolved to find a better solution myself.


I knew I didn’t want to rely on a sedative to fall asleep because it’s bad for health long term. Plus, you never know when your body will become immune to it, and require something stronger and stronger.


If you’re reading this, you’re probably suffering from insomnia too, and are worried about how it’s affecting your mood, health, relationships and performance at work. So was I.


The good news is I found a way to fix my insomnia for good.



There are still days I’m stuck staring at the ceiling and trying to count sheep – but those nights are few and far between.


 

What’s Insomnia Really?


I won’t bore you with all the scientific stuff, but essentially insomnia is when you have trouble sleeping for an extended period of time.


It can range from less than a month (transient) or 1-6 months (short term) all the way to chronic insomnia (> 6 months).


What I had was chronic insomnia, and it left me feeling exhausted and grumpy during the day, and I had very little motivation to do the things I needed or wanted to do. I made so many mistakes at work that even my boss had to take me aside to talk to me.



 

What Causes Insomnia


First, I set out to find out the root cause of my insomnia through the process of elimination.


Just look at the 4 possible causes of insomnia:


1. Stress


Stress releases hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which prepare your body for a "fight or flight" response. They can cause hyperarousal and racing thoughts, making it difficult to quiet the mind and feel calm for sleep.


2. Disruption to sleep-wake cycle


It’s said that our body has an in-built sleeping sleep-wake cycle called the circadian rhythm. Things like shift work, jet lag, sleeping late, or scrolling social media before bed disrupts this sleep wake cycle.


3. Stimulants & Medication


We all know coffee, nicotine (smoking) and alcohol can keep us awake, and that’s because they are stimulants. Certain ADHD medications also contain stimulants.


4. Health Condition


Certain medical conditions, such as chronic pain, asthma, acid reflux, or sleep disorders like sleep apnea, can interfere with sleep.


Do all or any apply to you?


I suspected the main cause of my insomnia was stress, as none of the other three causes applied to me.


 

Why Sleeping Pills Aggravate Insomnia


Sleeping pills & melatonin only gave me temporary relief by inducing drowsiness and sedating my body – but they did not address the mounting stress I had.


It was only masking the problem, and over time, my body started to develop a “tolerance” to these pills. This caused a vicious cycle of requiring higher doses for the same effect.


I also discovered sleeping pills actually made things worse! They were suppressing my REM sleep (the “deep sleep” our body needs to feel truly rested) and made me super drowsy the next day.


 

The Secret To Managing Insomnia Naturally


Since the cause of my insomnia was stress, leading to increased cortisol…


The solution was to reduce cortisol, right?


But let’s get one thing out of the way…


I’m NOT the type that can sit still and meditate or have the patience to practice mindfulness okay? So don’t worry – I’m not going to recommend any of that.


Instead, I stumbled upon something called cognitive enhancers.


These are a special class of herbs which directly influence brain processes to improve mental health.


So I became intrigued by the idea of “hacking” my brain to reduce cortisol and help me sleep…


And that’s when I stumbled upon what people call Indian Ginseng...


Also known as Ashwagandha (or Withania Somnifera).



 

How Ashwagandha Rewires Brain For Natural Sleep


While Asian and American Ginseng are known for their energizing properties, Ashwagandha does the complete opposite.


It brings your brain into a state of calmness by rewiring your brain’s cortisol factory — AKA the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) Axis.


Here’s How It Works:


When you encounter a stressful situation, the hypothalamus in your brain talks to your pituitary gland, which then tells your adrenal glands to churn out more sleep-robbing cortisol.


If this goes on for too long, the cortisol factory goes haywire, producing excessive amounts of cortisol.


This creates that constant feeling of anxiety that lasts into the night…


The great thing about Ashwagandha is it can calm the HPA axis, so it’s not as reactive. Like if your boss critiques your work, you don’t overstress about it, y’know?


It’s also able to lower the amount of cortisol released, so the body can finally calm down sufficiently to drift to sleep.


Lastly, Ashwagandha activates our body’s production of a “sleep neurotransmitter” called GABA.


GABA helps us fall asleep by blocking our nerves from getting too stressed and anxious. Essential to sleep, studies found the people with insomnia had 30% lower levels of GABA in their bodies.


A recent study found that regular intake of Ashwagandha was linked to significant improvement in multiple sleep parameters:


  • Reduction in time to fall asleep

  • Increase in sleep efficiency

  • Increase in sleep quality

  • Increase in total sleep time


 

My Methodology of Testing


Over the last 24 months, I tested over a dozen Ashwagandha supplements to find out which was the best + most value for money.


I found that taking it 2 hours before bedtime is best for sleep.


I also discovered some interesting benefits from taking Ashwagandha:


  1. I was no longer craving food at night. Perhaps snacking was my way to cope with stress.

  2. I am a lot calmer as a person, not overthinking and working myself up into a ball of stress.


I also found that certain brands and formulations were more effective than others. In fact, even the pricier “branded” ones fared worse.


Below is a list of criteria to keep in mind when selecting your Ashwagandha supplement.


What To Look For


KSM-66® Ashwagandha


The industry “gold standard” Ashwagandha. More than 22 clinical studies with proven results have been done with KSM-66® Ashwagandha. It also gives you the most bang for buck, because it's the most concentrated extract of Ashwagandha with 5% withanolides (more explained below).


5% Withanolides


Withanolides are the “active” parts of the Ashwagandha root, where you get the beneficial effects. If the amount of withanolides is too low, there may not be noticeable effects. Too high, and it may be too strong. So 5% is the recommended level for most.


GABA


I find that Ashwagandha and GABA work synergistically by reducing stress and calming the body respectively. Choose a natural source of GABA, which contains less toxins than synthetic GABA.


Low in Withaferin A


Manufacturers sometimes formulate ashwagandha supplements using leaf extracts in a bid to save on costs. Ashwagandha extracts derived from the leaves have been shown to contain higher levels of Withaferin A (an undesirable cytotoxic compound).


Some manufacturers also fail to clearly assess the actual concentration of this particular compound, so you should opt for well-established formulations like KSM-66 that explicitly indicate negligible levels of Withaferin A.


 


Top 3 Ashwagandha Supplements for Insomnia


After lots of research, my top choice for insomnia is The Purest Co’s Ashwa Lychee Drink.

  1. I found out that the best absorption comes from liquids, rather than pills or powders.

  2. It has one of the highest concentrations of KSM-66® Ashwagandha.

  3. It includes a patented natural source of GABA called PharmaGABA™

I was impressed, because despite its pretty packaging, it actually packs a solid punch in terms of ingredient quality. While it’s not the cheapest option in the market, it actually works the best for me out of over 12 products – which I’m very happy about.




We here at Superfood Reviews have done the research to find out what the best option for collagen supplements in the market. We have graded each choice through a stringent grading based on the following criteria:







PROS


  • Contains the top ashwagandha formulation - KSM-66

  • Includes effective complimentary ingredients like PharmaGaba ® and Camu Camu

  • No unnecessary ingredients or additives

  • Made in Taiwan and manufactured to HACCP and ISO22000 standards


CONS


  • Only available online

  • Regularly out of stock due to high demand, and takes a while to produce and restock


BOTTOMLINE


The Ashwa Lychee Drink is the number one choice for us due to its holistic formulation and with the brand’s focus on the customer experience.


The drink has the optimal amount of branded ashwagandha extract (KSM-66), which uses only root extract and is generally considered to be the most well-researched extract in the market. Additionally, The Purest Co has added good complimentary ingredients such as PharmaGaba ® and Camu Camu extract in their offering.

While many options of ashwagandha can be inherently bitter, the Ashwa Lychee Drink has a great taste due to the lychee concentrate juice, while not being overly sweet.


Additionally, the main difference is that the Ashwa Lychee Drink is one of the few if not the only concentrated ashwagandha drink in the market. While costly to produce as a liquid, the absorption rate of liquids beats any other form factor (gummies/pills/powders) by a large margin, according to research.


While not the cheapest option in the market, in terms of effectiveness, the Ashwa Lychee Drink is the top choice, and it helps customers reap the most benefits out of the ashwagandha supplement.







PROS


  • Contains the top ashwagandha formulation - KSM-66

  • Includes effective complimentary ingredients like Vitamin D

  • Gluten free


CONS


  • Low concentration of ashwagandha per gummy

  • Tastes too sweet and artificial

  • Gummies aren’t great with absorption rates

  • Gummies are too sticky and inconvenient


BOTTOMLINE


The Ashwagandha gummies by Goli are one of the few options for ashwagandha supplements in gummy form. While the interesting form factor can make it convenient for customers to eat, studies have shown that absorption rates through gummies compared to liquids is around half as effective.

Customers who have tried Goli gummies do raise certain concerns about its taste being too sweet however, and there is also a consensus that the gummies get too sticky in warmer climates, and taking individual gummies out of the bottle is a difficult ordeal.


As one of the pioneers in the gummy supplements industry, Goli is a brand that is well-known for producing high quality Apple Cider Vinegar gummies, hence you can rest assured that processing standards and safety are high.


Lastly, Goli has a good return policy, and you can send them back to the company within 30 days. Having said that, you are responsible for return shipping costs which could be high.


While Goli is a well-respected brand and their gummies are quick and convenient to consume, we believe that the gummies format (less effective), coupled with its sweetness, puts Goli at a slight disadvantage.






PROS


  • Made in the USA

  • USDA organic

  • Non-GMO and plant-based


CONS


  • Low ashwagandha concentration

  • No complimentary ingredients

  • Powders aren’t great with absorption rates


BOTTOMLINE


An up and coming brand from the United States, KOS has a broad range of functional powders and supplements. Their ashwagandha powder has good reviews across different marketplaces, with some customers praising its no frills and effective product.

KOS’s powder is produced in the USA to USDA standards, hence it is safe to say that processing standards are high. However, a large disadvantage for us would be that KOS does not use KSM-66, which is broadly regarded as the number one ashwagandha extract in the market today.


Additionally, due to the fact that the concentration of ashwagandha is not as high as the other options in the market, this has counted against KOS.


Lastly, powdered supplements may clump and result in inferior effectiveness rates for customers, as well as the additional work it takes to mix it into drinks.




 

CONCLUSION


My life has dramatically improved since I overcame insomnia, thanks to Ashwagandha. I can close my eyes and fall asleep in minutes, and sleep for at least 7-9 hours – as long as I go to bed by 11pm and don't drink any coffee during the day.


It’s amazing how I used to obsess over thoughts like "oh god what will happen if I don't sleep tonight", and now I barely even think about my insomnia. Maybe once a month I have a bad night if stress at work really builds up, and that’s fine by me.


My heart goes out to you if you’re suffering from this, and I know your experience with insomnia may or may not be the same as mine.


However, I hope sharing this post will help you in some way. Research shows 84% of people experience chronic stress on a daily basis – so it’s no surprise that it’s causing widespread problems sleeping.


Taking a natural Ashwagandha supplement to calm the body before sleep might be what you need.



 

My Final Recommendation


There’s no one-size-fits-all magic pill for stress-induced insomnia…


But The Purest Co’s Ashwa Lychee Drink comes close for me.


After testing more than a dozen different Ashwagandha supplements, it’s the standout choice in terms of ingredients, quality, absorption rate and efficiency.


Unlike many liquid supplements, this is also actually delicious, without the sickly sweet taste that many similar supplements have.




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