Sleep Tips

Ultimate Power Nap Guide: Improve Your Health, Productivity & Focus


Napping is for old people.

I’ll sleep when I’m dead.

How many times have you heard that? Ever since Arnold Schwarzenegger told everyone to “sleep faster if you’re in bed for 8 hours” or Donald Trump saying “How does somebody that’s sleeping 12 and 14 hours a day compete with someone that’s sleeping three or four?”, people have been trying to take time for sleep and use them for *productive* means.

Is it really a good idea to sleep less to be more productive? Does napping not work anymore?

No, not at all. Getting enough sleep is more important than ever and napping still is a great way to be more productive, alert, creative and healthy. The people who can get by on 4 hours of sleep are genetic outliers—and if you’re reading this, you probably aren’t among them.

What does this mean for productivity hackers and health enthusiasts?

It means that if you’re looking to live a healthy life—a productive life—that sleeping less is not one of the magical things you can do to achieve that.

Every hour of sleep that you miss has consequences in regard to your focus and functioning. And the sleep debt you’re creating might even never be repaid fully.

It’s really a shame that we as a society have so much distractions that sleep falls along the sideway.

I get it, life is hectic and most of us are juggling so many balls (health, work, friends, family and hobbies), that it’s tempting to sacrifice those ‘useless’ hours in bed.

Not to talk about Netflix who officially claimed sleep as its main competitor.

One look around the metro in a big city in the morning shows that we’re on our way to becoming a sleepy caffeine-driven zombie nation…

What if you could take advantage of this?

You know… the ones who actually get enough sleep, wake up with energy, full focus for the day and actually thrive in our hectic society.

In this guide, I’m going to show you how to use powernaps to get more out of life.

Getting more out of life is NOT a matter of doing more things in the 24 hours you have each day. It’s about doing the right things…

Power naps are a valuable weapon in your arsenal

Naps are one of the few things in life that don’t cost much time—and have tremendous benefits for your health and mind.

You can lay down for 20 minutes after lunch (when you’re not productive anyway) and wake up ready to go with full energy.

The only thing that’s keeping most people back is the old beliefs that napping is for old people, that real adults should be able to get through the day normally.

So we throw more coffee at our sleepiness.

For my own life, my afternoons and evenings are so much more rewarding and productive if I take a nap after lunch. It’s just 10 to 20 minutes, and it clears my mind and gets me ready for the second half of the day. Taking a nap gives me a reset for the day, a second chance.

If you picked up this guide, you’re miles ahead than the majority of people out there. Not many people know how to nap properly. They try it for 2 days, oversleep their nap, become incredibly groggy, and claim that napping just doesn’t work for them.

Napping might be the most powerful ‘skill’ for boundless health

Getting good sleep is one of the biggest factors for great health. If you know how to get enough sleep—whether that’s only at night or with naps—you are set up for a life of health and focus.

Put simply, if you know how to get enough sleep, your cells repair themselves faster, you become less sick, have more energy and even less chances of dying.

If there would be a supplement that costs 20 minutes to prepare and in return you’d get:

  • Better focus
  • Higher productivity
  • More creativity
  • Less chances of heart disease
  • Healthier organs
  • Better hormone balance
  • And more energy

Wouldn’t you buy it immediately? That is exactly what a quick powernap can do for your life.

Sure, sleep won’t cure all your problems. Not getting enough will surely make you less able to cope with them.

What you’ll learn in this guide ( + short overview )

In this guide, I’m going to explain HOW to become more focused and healthy through using naps.

We’ll go over the 10 benefits that napping has for. Both the long-term effects, as well as the immediate benefits that having a quick nap has on your mind.

Then we’re going to discuss the 7 different lengths of naps and how they affect you.

After that, we’ll take a look at the 5 steps you must take to get the most out of your powernaps (and how you can fall asleep FAST).

In the final chapter, I’ll guide you step-by-step through which nap is the most suitable for you and how you can get started with it right away.

The best part about napping is that it doesn’t cost much time, it’s pleasurable and it has so many countless benefits that are hard to get any other way.

Sounds awesome?

Let’s get started!

Chapter 1: Ten Ways Power Napping Makes You More Productive and Healthier

Since sleep is one of the important things in your life, there are countless benefits to getting enough shut-eye time. What if you don’t get enough? In that case powernaps are here to help you.

Below you’ll find 10 of the most important benefits of taking a quick nap. The great thing is that napping is both good for long-term health—and you’ll also experience immediate benefits from taking a sleeping break.

They say that there are no free lunches, but the closest thing we’ve got as humans is the powernap.

It’s important to notice though, that many of the benefits of powernaps come from helping you to catch up on sleep that you didn’t get through the night. Although many studies also found that napping does have additional benefits, even if you already got enough sleep at night.

Immediate benefit #1: Increased productivity, alertness & concentration

Looking for an easy way to get more out of your working day? NASA has done a study on pilots who took a nap of 26 minutes each day, and found that this nap improved performance by 34% and alertness by 54%.

Even if you don’t have as much responsibility as an astronaut on the job (who doesn’t?) these findings are pure gold.

Most people experience an afternoon-slump, in which concentration drops and you find yourself looking for 10 minutes at a paragraph, with continuous re-reading without getting what’s written.

Another study at Stanford among 49 physicians and nurses who worked the night shift found that they benefitted from a 40-minute nap (on average each participant slept for 25 minutes). The results? “Fewer performance lapses, reported more vigor, less fatigue and less sleepiness

If both these professions with an immense responsibility benefit from taking a nap at work – why shouldn’t you?

Further reading

Immediate benefit #2: Improve learning & memory

Have you ever experienced the following scenario? You’re learning something difficult (playing the piano, coding, crafting or any other skill-based activity), and it’s just not working out. You call it a day and come back the next day—only to find that after a good night’s sleep what was difficult yesterday is now second nature.

That’s the power of sleep on memory and learning.

A study from Saarland university tested the memory recall of 41 participants. They were asked to learn single words and word pairs. After that half of the group took a 45-60-minute nap—the other half watched a DVD.

Guess who had the better memory recall? The students who took a nap remembered on average 5 times more words than the control group.

Everyone can benefit from learning new information and skills—your job and livelihood may depend on it.

Further reading

Immediate benefit #3: Stop information overload

A friend of mine is a doctor who has his own clinic. He swears by taking a nap every afternoon. Why? Because he needs to take in much information about each patient, assimilate that with his own knowledge, make a diagnose and recommend what to do next.

If he doesn’t take his nap, he’ll find that he loses focus around 3 to 4 and can’t focus on listening well to the patient. In his job, this can have huge consequences.

A Harvard study found that naps have a restorative effect on visual test results. Subjects were asked to do 4 visual tests (9AM, 12PM, 4PM and 7 PM), and found that those who took naps required less time on the later tests.

Humans are information processing machines, so it makes sense to get the most out of this ability, right? Taking a nap will help you take in more information, and you’ll make better decision as a result.

Further reading

Immediate benefit #4: Relieve stress & boost your immune system

What’s more relaxing than taking half an hour for yourself during a busy day to recharge? Power naps have been shown to physiologically decrease stress markers in the body.

One study found that in 11 healthy man, 30 minutes of sleep restored biomarkers of neuroendocrine and immune health to normal levels after a night of limited sleep. Neuroendocrine is a hormone that’s responsible for the fight or flight response.

Stress hormones are through the roof if you only get limited sleep throughout the night—and taking a nap can reverse some of these negative effects in the body.

It can be difficult to fall asleep—or take time away from your day—if you’re already stressed. But the decrease in stress will allow you to come back calmer and fresher.

Further reading

Immediate benefit #5: Elevate your mood

Winston Churchill said that sleeping during the day gave him 2 days in one day. And I agree, who doesn’t love a good nap? You get a new chance at the day, and if your morning didn’t go as planned, you can try again after taking an afternoon nap.

Now science has also shown this mood-enhancing effect of naps. The study found that, even for people who generally get enough sleep they need very night, napping may lead to considerable benefits for mood, alertness and cognitive performance.

So if you’re feeling grumpy, why not lay down for 20 minutes? You’ll awake with a fresh perspective and good mood.

Further reading

Immediate benefit #6: aid creative insights

The story goes that Salvador Dali used to take naps in his chair with a key in his hand. Next to his chair is a plate upside down. When he’d drift off to sleep, he loses the control over his hand muscle and the key drops on the plate.

It’s in this moment that he got is most creative insights.

He wrote about this moment in his book the 50 Secrets of craftsmanship:

“The moment the key drops from your fingers, you may be sure that the noise of its fall on the upside-down plate will awaken you, and you may be equally sure that this fugitive moment when you had barely lost consciousness and during which you cannot be assured of having really slept is totally sufficient, inasmuch as not a second more is needed for your physical and psychic being to be revivified by just the necessary amount of repose.”

We’re not master painters, but we can learn a lot from this. Have you experienced this state Dali talks about? I do know when I take a nap, the creative juices start to flow in my head. If I take a long nap I forget them—if I have a micronap, like Dali, then when I wake up I still remember.

In this hectic world we can all use an extra dose of creativity to help us overcome obstacles. The great thing about the Dali nap is that it doesn’t even take much time.

Further reading

Long-term benefit #1: Lose weight

The short-term benefits of napping are nothing to scoff at. Taking a powernap becomes even more impressive when you look at all the long-term benefits as well.

For example, naps are one of the most important things you can do for your health and weight loss.

Losing weight is all about eating less or burning more calories. Another component is stress. You’ve probably experienced cravings or hunger when you’re stressed out?

WebMD says that stress and tiredness can make your brain’s reward center more active—so you’ll start looking for something that feels good. Many turn to food in this case.

Sleeping enough will make you less stressed and less tired. If you can’t get enough at night, then taking a nap is s surefire way to combat stress and fatigue—so the chances of finding yourself at the office snack machine at 3.30PM decreases as well.

Further reading

Long-term benefit #2: Good for heart health & prevent a stroke

Which lucky people haven’t lost anyone close (friends or family) to a heart attack? Few. Data from 2012 showed that 28% of Americans over age 40 are taking cholesterol lowering medicines.

It’s one of the silent killers in our society, next to cancer and Alzheimer.

Now, I don’t want to put napping here as a miracle solution, since there are obviously many other factors in play for stroke and heart health, but midday naps are associated with reduced blood pressure and fewer medications.

The study checked 386 middle aged patients (average age 61) and found that—after taking into account factors such as age, gender, BMI, smoking, alcohol and coffee intake—that afternoon nappers had on average 5% lower systolic blood pressure compared to those who didn’t sleep.

Another study in Greece, where the siesta is still part of the culture, among 23,000 adults, found that those who took siestas showed a 37% reduction in coronary mortality rate.

It seems to me that we can learn something from the Mediterranean siesta habit. It’s a free way to reduce heart attacks and lower blood pressure.

Further reading

Long-term benefit #3: Prevent cell damage

Being sleep deprived not only hurts your ability to focus. Research has shown that sleep deprivation literally causes damage to cell in the liver, lungs and small intestine.

Luckily, the study also found that recovery sleep was effective in restoring the balance and decrease cell injury.

Which means that if you’re having a late flight scheduled, and only can make 4 hours of sleep—you can catch up with that by taking a longer nap.

Further reading

Long-term benefit #4: Boost testosterone

Just as with some of the previous findings, a lack of sleep has a detrimental effect on testosterone production in men. Not getting enough sleep decreases the production of testosterone in men.

On study in aging men found that there’s a correlation between amount of sleep and testosterone levels. Men who slept for 4 hours had around 60% less serum testosterone than those who slept 3 hours more (7 hours).

Why is testosterone important? It’s responsible for wellbeing, weight loss, muscle mass retention and having low testosterone relates to overall risk of mortality in men.

A lack of sleep can also cause problems for women with hormones, and a power nap can help to restore the balance.

Further reading

What does this mean for you?

With all the benefits surrounding powernaps, it’s one of the few things that you can do that only takes a small investment of your time and has dozens of incredibly benefits.

On the concrete side, it means that you can lose all the guilt that you might have when taking a nap.

I’m still working on this – and it’s getting better – I feel it a little when I’m taking a nap. For some reason napping is associated with older people. When you’re an adult, you should be able to cope with the stresses of life without *needing* a nap is still the current thinking.

Also, there are quite some practical things that impact your naps. Such as timing of your nap, how to fall asleep quickly, and what to do if you’re working in an office and can’t just go off and take a powernap.

In the following chapters we’ll discuss those—beginning with the different lengths and types of naps…

Chapter 2: How Long Should a Nap Be? (And Which Types of Naps Are There?)

There are different types of naps—depending on duration each offers a different use for you. Below you’ll find the main 7 types of naps that you can choose.

The type you’ll want to take depends mainly on the amount of time that you have. It goes without saying that it’s tough to fit a full sleep cycle nap of 90 minutes into your lunch break at work.

Sleep Tips

8 Lessons I learned From taking the Ayurvedic herb Ashwagandha 21 Nights in a Row

This summer, I could lay down in bed at 11 PM and be completely off the earth at 11.02 PM For some reason the last month it takes longer to fall asleep and I’m tossing and turning a lot at night…Suspected causes:

  • Less physical activity
  • Not enough sunshine
  • More work-related stress in my life.

I’m already working on these things–but it’s also the perfect time for a little sleep experiment:

Ashwagandha (that’s ash-wa-gan-dha) is a herb that’s used for thousands of years for all sorts of physical troubles. One of the main things it’s know for is that it’s an adaptogenic herb, which helps you cope better with stress.

This is what my pure ashwagandha powder looks like.

Less cortisol at night = better sleep, Right? Let’s find out!

Why am I doing this experiment?

Because people say good things about taking ashwagandha before sleep:

  • “I’m now in a much better mood when I wake up”
  • “I feel physically and mentally relaxed and well-rested, something that hasn’t happened in years”
  • “I can think clearer after waking up without needing coffee (although I still drink it)”
  • “My stress levels decrease noticeably for the next morning”
  • “I haven’t woken up with upper back/neck pain (something that used to happen, even with good posture)”
  • “My dreams became extremely vivid and realistic”
  • “The good night’s rest seems to help me build muscle faster, although I can’t confirm this”

If I even can get half of these benefits from taking it on a regular basis, sign me up!

Another thing is that ashwagandha is cheap. I got 200 grams for 10 euro 2 years ago. A normal dosage is .5 grams, so that’s 400 dosages for 10 euro) and has virtually no side effects. So there’s nothing to lose. 

I’ve taken ashwagandha at night before, but it was irregular and never more than 1 or 2 nights in a row. So I can’t really tell too much about the long-term effects on sleep from ashwagandha.

suspect that it helps with sleep, but for all I know, other factors just lined up and gave me good sleep.

In the following section you can read what I’m going to do learn the real benefits of ashwagandha for sleep:

What’s the setup?

So here’s the deal: I’m going to take ashwagandha for 21 days to see what the effects are on my sleep.

It’s to keep myself accountable. As I’ve tried doing these experiments countless times before, but never stuck with it for more than a couple of days.

This time, I’ll describe my progress here for you.

Current sleep routine

As I said before, I don’t have any huge sleep problems at the moment. Here’s my sleep routine:

  • Avoid screens at least an hour before bed. Unless I’m reading on my non-backlite-reader or watching a movie on a projector.
  • Go to bed around 11 PM
  • Take zinc
  • Read for 5 to 10 minutes
  • Wake up around 7.30 through my girlfriend’s alarm
  • Sleep till 8.00 and get up

My girlfriend sleeps like a baby, so she’s not waking me up in any way. She does notice whenever I’m stressed so I wake her up when I’m turning all night.

Reason again to solve this!

How do I expect my sleep to improve?

No supplement has miracle effects. Unless you’re deficient in a specific mineral or vitamin. In other cases you shouldn’t expect super effects on your sleep.

So many factors go into sleep. A good night’s sleep is caused by 50+ factors all pointing into the right direction.

Bad sleep is caused by several factors pointing in the wrong direction.

So I’m not expecting ashwagandha to magically make my sleep a blissful wonderland full of good dreams.

I’ve read the literature, countless of other sites and anecdotal experiences from others. And here’s what I roughly suspect will happen after taking ashwagandha for a couple of weeks:

‘Sure’ effects

  • Less stress
  • Easier to wake up in the morning
  • Less turning at night

‘Maybe’ effects

  • Clearer skin
  • Heightened libido
  • More progress in the gym?
  • Vivid dreams
  • Less dependent on coffee in the morning

There’s one negative though. If I take anything calming (ashwagandha or l-theanine) for several days in a row, my motivation tends to go down a bit. 

This was always from taking it in the morning though. So I hope that it won’t affect me if I take it before sleep.

What does the literature say about ashwaghandha?

(skip this section if you want to get to the ashwagandha sleep experiment)

Ashwagandha’s real name is Withania Somnifera. And if you take 300 mg of extract for 60 days, you experience a reduction in all stress related markers and serum cortisol goes down.

Another study found that the active component of ashwagandha, triethylene glycol, induced sleep in mice. It decreased non REM sleep latency and induced physiological sleep. It works by involving GABAergic modulation.

This review study from 2011 listed all the previous ashwagandha studies and their conclusions:

  • Ashwagandha was shown to increase swimming performance in rats as judged by increase in swimming time during physical endurance test.The cortisol content of adrenals was reduced significantly in animals subjected to 5 h constant swimming as compared to non-swimmer group.
  • Ashwagandha was found to be useful in the prevention of stress-induced ulcers of the gastrointestinal tract.
  • There was a significant increase in the body weights of the Ashwagandha treated group as compared to control for a period of 3 months in rats.
  • The cognition-promoting effect of ashwagandha is best seen in children with memory deficits, or when memory is compromised following head injury, or a prolonged illness and in old age.
  • There are dozens of studies that show that Ashwagandha slows, stops, reverses or removes neuritic atrophy and synaptic loss.
  • Ashwagandha induced a calming anxiolytic effect that was comparable to the drug Lorazepam in all three standard Anxiety tests.
  • It also exhibited an antidepressant effect, comparable with that induced by imipramine, in two standard tests.
  • Ashwagandha is an analgesic that soothes nervous system from pain response.

If you want something more digestible than these studies, check out for ashwagandha. I absolutely love the site and they’ve done a great job making the scientific literature for supplements 1000 times more accessible.

Also, here’s what Lorna Driver-Davies, a nutritional therapist has to say about ashwagandha for sleep:

“Ashwagandha enhances GABA receptors in the brain. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, working to reduce neuronal excitability throughout the nervous system. Essentially, this means that ashwagandha is able to help the body and mind feel more relaxed or ‘wound down’ –  which is an important state to be in to fall asleep. Our own Ashwagandha has been clinically proven to support anxiety and stress; and works to modulate cortisol production. This is helpful for those who find it hard to switch off before bed when worrying about the day or just feel too stimulated before bed time. Clients of mine typically report finding it quicker to fall asleep and the next day, feeling as though they have experienced a longer, deeper sleep.”

So, there are a lot of studies done on the effects of the herb, and it seems to work for about everything. Now, the majority of the studies was done on mice – so if you’re a student, PhD, or professor doing any sort of health-related research… why not conduct another human trial with ashwagandha!

Ashwaghanda sleep experiment setup

Healthline recommends taking around 500 to 600 mg per day. This is for insomnia and other stress-related sources. So that’s what I’m going to do. 

My pot says to take more, but I’ve always had good experience taking less. So I’m not going to take 2 or 4 times more than what’s proven to work.

With supplements I always like to take as less as possible for a working effect 🙂

I’ve got myself a nice little weighing scale,

There’s no recommended time when to take it, but since the main goal is to reduce stress before and at night, I’ll take a fairly liberal approach.

So I’ll take it anywhere ranging from 2 hours before bedtime to right before bed. (as I’m sure I’ll forget on many occasions and have to get up to take some)

My pot says: “Take 1/2 to 1 teaspoon (approximately 1.3 to 2.5 g) and mix with juice or yoghurt. Don’t use if you’re pregnant.”

The only other supplements I’m taking at the moment are cod liver oil (1tbsp), vitamin D (3000IU) and zinc.

Note: as of writing this, my ashwagandha pot is from 2016. I’ve checked and the expiry date was 30-07-2019. That’s why I bought new fresh ashwagandha on the third day of my experiment.

Curious how my little ashwagandha sleep experiment went? Read below what the results were!

Daily sleep log

  • Week 1 
  • Week 2
  • Week 3

Day 1

Took half a tablespoon of ashwagandha last night. Woke up slightly more tired than usual. My girlfriend had the same thing, so maybe it’s something to do with the pressure (we live close to the sea) Slept 8 hours.

Day 2

The second day was better. I went to bed very early (10.30), and slept completely through the night, only to be waken up by my girlfriend’s alarm at 7.30. It’s now 8.55 and I’m focused and energized. Slept for 9.5 hours.

Day 3

I went to sleep approximately around 11. So slept for 9 hours.Read for 10 minutes and fell asleep quickly. However, during the night I was half awake and tossing for quite a while. Luckily fell asleep after half an hour maybe and woke up feeling fine.

So far ashwagandha doesn’t feel like it’s helping too much. Maybe it will change after taking it for more days.

Day 4

Weekend. Slept for 9 hours. I didn’t sleep in and woke up at 8. Still turning a lot in my sleep. Though I woke up feeling good. Maybe it’s because I’m going to Venice for a weekend with my girlfriend. Still keeping up the experiment there!

Day 5

Slept for 8 hours after 2 bottles of wine (for 2 persons). Remarkably no headache, even though it was red wine. Slightly dehydrated, also because the heating was on all night in our hotel room.

Note: need to check the effects of ashwagandha with alcohol/hangovers. And if there’s an effect with hydration levels.

Day 6

Second day in Venice. We were only here for a short 2 nights, so we’re waking up early to catch out flight back. We mixed beer, spritz, red and white wine. But again, feeling good in the morning – albeit very dehydrated and slightly tired. Mind is clear though. Got 8.5 hours of sleep.

Day 7

Back home. I slept very well in one go. Woke up a bit tired, but that might’ve been because my sleep schedule was thrown off a bit in the weekend. Slept for 9.5 hours.

Week 1 thoughts

It’s difficult to measure progress on a day by day basis. However, when you take a further view, things often become clearer.

Here are some of the things I’ve found this first week of taking ashwagandha before sleep:

I feel calmer in the mornings. And in general I’ve got the feeling that I’m a bit more emotionally stable. I was going (and still am) going through a stressful period in my life for my work and business, but taking ashwagandha at night seems to give me that extra edge in emotional resilience.

Also, my muscles (especially around my neck and shoulders), feel less tense. I’m unsure if this is because of ashwagandha, or because I stopped doing bar pull ups – instead doing them on rings.

So far, I haven’t noticed any negative effects. Sometimes I feel a bit too chill, and wasn’t too motivated, (which could happen because of too much GABA). But so far I’m enjoying the experiment and am happy to continue.

Day 8

Slept for 9 hours. Just woke up with surprisingly much energy. I do remember laying awake for 20 minutes or so in the middle of the night. Dreams were very vivid the last 2 hours of my sleep. Feeling ready to get to work!

Day 9

Slept throughout the night without breaks. No turning, which is good. Let’s see if this keeps going the next nights. Slept 9 hours.

Day 10

Slept alright. Approximately 8.5 hours. It was cold, though, so I woke up several times because of that. Feeling more tired than usual.

Day 11

Went to  a party with a friend of mine. Drank approximately 10 beers. Then I slept from 3 to 9. Upon waking up (it was a Saturday), I felt surprisingly normal. A bit tired from the lack of sleep and drinking, but that was it.

Day 12

My body noticed that I didn’t sleep enough yesterday and I slept in 1 go from 12 to 10. I’m noticing that I’m turning less in my sleep.

Day 13

Back to the alarm clock. Got a solid 8.5 hours of sleep. Again with minimal turning. So far taking ashwagandha has already become a habit, and I’m not forgetting it before sleep. The taste isn’t too good, but the brand I’ve got now, doesn’t have a too bad taste.

Day 14

Slept for 9 hours = woke up a bit later because my phone’s alarms didn’t work (was updating). Slept fairly well throughout the night. Great that I haven’t tossed in the last couple of days and my sleep quality seems to be up.

Week 2 thoughts

Ashwagandha has already become a habit. I’m enjoying the calmness before bed – sometimes I take it about an hour before I go to sleep. This makes me chill out a bit more, and virtually every night I fall asleep within 5 minutes (after reading for approximately 5-15 minutes to tire my brain).

I feel more focused in the mornings. Although it’s more of a slight increase in emotional control.

Also, I feel more relaxed and less bored throughout the day. Whenever I have nothing to do, I’m quick to take up a book or go for a walk (even though the temperatures are almost falling below freezing point here.)

Day 15

Slept for straight 9 hours. No night-time awakenings.

Day 16

Had a regular night’s sleep. 8.5 hours of uninterrupted sleep. It did take 20 minutes or so to fall asleep.

Day 17

8.5 hours of quality sleep. Although it was more difficult to fall asleep (took me 10 to 20 minutes), but I took a nap in the afternoon–so that might’ve been the culprit.

Day 18

Weekend. Had a good 8 hours (including sleeping in on Saturday). Plenty of energy and slept well.

Day 19

Woke up around 9. Eight hours of sleep again. Had a long day with family meetings and was in a very good mood.

Day 20

Back to work again. Slept 9 hours. Basically everything was in 1 go without tossing and turning.

Day 21

Last day of my experiment! Slept very well for about 9 hours. Again, no tossing or turning throughout the night. You might’ve noticed that my descriptions of the night have gotten a bit shorter. This is normal, since after a while not much new things happened. Read on for the results of my experiment!

Thoughts after the experiment

I like ashwagandha. It’s perfect for calming your mind and getting into a chill mode.

It’s one of the few natural supplements (together with L-theanine) that you can take and expect to feel calmer within 20 minutes. (I suspect this is partly due to placebo, since I’m associating taking these supplements with the state they provide. So for you it might be longer until the real effects kick in).

In the beginning I started taking ashwagandha at night because my sleep was interrupted by short stretches (sometimes longer) of tossing and laying awake thinking. Unable to get comfortable or fall asleep again.

I hadn’t experienced this in the last 1-2 years. So I thought it would be a perfect timing to see how ashwagandha helps sleep. And it did.

Now I’m (most of the time) sleeping in 1 go throughout the entire night. I still wake up sometimes (bathroom or my girlfriend waking up early to go to work), but I’m asleep quickly again. So for that part I consider my ashwagandha for sleep experiment a total success.

But how about the other expectations I had?

Here’s a recap of what I was expecting:

‘Sure’ effects

  • Less stress
  • Easier to wake up in the morning
  • Less turning at night

‘Maybe’ effects

  • Clearer skin
  • Heightened libido
  • More progress in the gym?
  • Vivid dreams
  • Less dependent on coffee in the morning

Did I experience those?

8 Things I learned from taking ashwagandha for 21 days:


I felt calmer throughout the days. It feels as if I have more emotional control now.


I find I’m laughing more than before during the day.


It’s easy to wake up in the mornings. My alarm goes off and I jump out of bed, make coffee, take a shower and go to work. My morning ritual solidified in the 3 weeks I took ashwagandha. before I sometimes used to sleep in a bit, or get distracted with other things. Now, it’s easier to just do what I have to do.


My tossing and turning at night also decreased. It’s nice to sleep without breaks of being awake.


I’m not napping as often anymore. Before I used to take at least 2 to 3 naps of at least 20 minutes per week. Now I’m doing maybe 1 or 2. And it’s only 10 to 20 minutes. I take this as a sign that my sleep quality has increased.


I’ve found that I’m less prone to anxiety or overthinking specific bad things that are happening.


Even though I felt calmer, I also felt less ‘life’ motivation. It was still very easy to get up and do things (no procrastination), but there was simply less desire to. I suspect this was because I’m already a calm person, so it might’ve been a GABA overkill.


I started to like the taste of ashwagandha. There’s a reason why manufacturers put on the bottle to mix it with fruit juice or yoghurt. Because it tastes like sand water mixed with licorice. But after taking it for 3 weeks, the taste became more bearable and actually ‘tasty’ in a weird way.

When we look back on the expectations I had, I’ve got to say that the sure effects all were there.

But how about the ‘maybe’ effects? The truth is honestly don’t know. My skin may have improved. I could’ve made more progress in the gym. And libido? Probably about the same. I feel like I’m less dependent on coffee in the mornings, but since it’s a habit I haven’t actively checked this.

One thing is for sure: all these areas didn’t get worse. So I’d say that there probably were small improvements. But they were not so noticeable that without intense introspection I noticed them.

Am I going to continue taking ashwagandha at night?

Yes and no. My policy on supplements is that you should take them with a purpose. Ask yourself with every pill/powder/capsule that you take:

Why am I taking this exact supplement?”

For example:

I take vitamin D in winter when I don’t get any direct sunlight.

I take a spoon of fish oil because virtually everybody is deficient in omega 3. I notably feel better (and sharper) after taking it for a while.

I take melatonin very rarely when I need to fall asleep at a certain point or need to reset my sleep schedule (for jet lag).

Same with ashwagandha. Now that my sleep has improved, I want to take a couple of weeks to see what happens if I don’t take it.

I’m also travelling for a week next couple of days. I’d hate to be the person carrying 12 tubs of supplements through the airport customs.

Also, I think ashwagandha is a good supplement to be taken on an ad hoc base. Whenever you feel like you need that extra bit of calmness–on a rough day– take a teaspoon and relax.

Taking it everyday might be a bit overkill. But several days per week is a fine middle ground in my opinion.

Again, I won’t take it for the next couple of weeks to see if anything in my life changes. See it as the control group of the experiment 😉

Should YOU try this experiment?

Yes! Ashwagandha is not expensive–I got my second tub of 150 grams for $10. Which is enough for a year of daily supplementation. So taking it for 3 weeks will cost you less than 1 dollar.

The studies show that it might have great benefits for your health and mind, so why not try it? You don’t have a lot to lose. And if you’re feeling stressed out, or you’re not sleeping as well as you used to… there’s a lot to gain.

Thanks for reading! 🙂 If you enjoyed it, forward it to someone you know who’s not sleeping well. Would mean a lot to me and it helps other people see how useful ashwagandha can be.