About 35 percent of American adults deal with insomnia or “short sleep duration”, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Not surprisingly, many people turn to over-the-counter or prescription medications to help them regain restorative sleep. The problem is that many of these solutions can also create morning drowsiness.
Even supplemental and herbal products, including melatonin and chamomile, can cause some sluggishness. Saffron, however, may provide an answer for those who struggle with sleep.
In this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study, small dosages of a saffron extract—just 14 mg twice daily—significantly improved sleep without causing side effects.
Lopresti AL, Smith SJ, Metse AP, Drummond PD. Effects of Saffron on Sleep Quality in Healthy Adults With Self-Reported Poor Sleep: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial [published online ahead of print, 2020 Feb 14]. J Clin Sleep Med. 2020;10.5664/jcsm.8376. doi:10.5664/jcsm.8376
Study objectives: Herbal medicines are frequently used by adults with sleep difficulties. However, evidence of their efficacy is limited. Therefore, the goal of this study was to examine the sleep-enhancing effects of a standardized saffron extract (affron).
Methods: This was a 28-day, parallel-group, double-blind, randomized controlled trial. Sixty-three healthy adults aged 18 to 70 with self-reported sleep problems were recruited and randomized to receive either saffron extract (affron, 14mg twice daily) or a placebo. Outcome measures included the Insomnia Severity Index (ISI) (primary outcome measure) collected at baseline, days 7, 14, 21, and 28; Restorative Sleep Questionnaire (RSQ) and Pittsburgh Sleep Diary (PSD) collected on days -1, 0, 3, 7, 14, 27, and 28.
Results: Based on data collected from 55 participants, saffron was associated with greater improvements in ISI total score (p=.017), RSQ total score (p=.029), and PSD sleep quality ratings (p=.014) than the placebo. Saffron intake was well-tolerated with no reported adverse effects.
Conclusions: Saffron intake was associated with improvements in sleep quality in adults with self-reported sleep complaints. Further studies using larger samples sizes, treatment periods, objective outcome measures, and volunteers with varying demographic and psychographic characteristics are required to replicate and extend these findings.
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