Ashwagandha for Athletes: tame discomfort, sleep deep and take on the world tomorrow

Stiff, sore and utterly exhausted? We've got your fix—and it's not four Advil and a nitro cold brew. Ashwagandha, from the root of the Withania somnifera plant native to India, has been traditionally used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine for vitality and resilience. Modern athletes rely on it for enhancing performance, and up-to-date research confirms ashwagandha's ability to boost cardiorespiratory endurance, increase muscle strength, promote stamina, and significantly improve VO₂ max—the maximum rate of oxygen your body is able to use when you're exercising. [1]

But the benefits continue long after your workout, so you can keep going the day after hiking, biking or mastering your marathon. Here's how:

            Recover faster. You've conquered that hike, shredded the bike trails, ripped every double black on the mountain. But what about tomorrow? If you're so achy you can't crawl your way out of bed—let alone clip on cleats or climb on a bike—you won't perform at your best (if at all).

Here's your fix: ashwagandha has proven, and powerful, abilities to relieve sore muscles, ease joint discomfort and speed recovery, so you can play as hard tomorrow as you did today. Studies suggest it works by increasing antioxidant activity in the body, protecting tissues from free radical injury, blunting inflammation and minimizing the damaging effects of high-intensity training. [2] [3] [4] [5] Other research shows ashwagandha acts as a potent analgesic to soothe sore, achy muscles and relieve joint stiffness, swelling and pain. [6] [7] [8]

            Sleep better. It's the night after a big competition or strenuous play, and you've pushed past your limits all day long. You should be thoroughly exhausted—but it's 2 a.m. and you're still tossing and turning, wide awake and anxiously watching the clock at. And stressing about not sleeping only makes matters worse.

You're not alone: post-exercise insomnia is a thing. Caused by elevated levels of cortisol and other hormones, increased core temperature, dehydration and overstimulation, restless slumber after vigorous workouts leave you depleted, drained and unable to perform. Studies show sleep deprivation has serious consequences for athletes, not only on reaction time, strength and endurance, but also on judgment, decision making and mood. [9]

            Before you turn on Netflix or reach for your iPad (bad idea, since blue light interferes with melatonin production), consider this: ashwagandha is rich in compounds proven to soothe tension, calm nervous system activity and ease stress, [10] [11] so you can drift off into a long, restful and much-needed slumber. And studies show ashwagandha extract shortens the time it takes to doze off, lessens nighttime waking and improves overall sleep quality, even in people with chronic insomnia. [12] [13]

            Learn more about ashwagandha on our ingredients page. And see for yourself: try a sample, and get ready to take on the world tomorrow—and all the tomorrows after that.

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