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Written by Emily Spring
If saffron were a fashion brand, Vogue would call it the “timeless addition to any wardrobe.” Popular in dishes from paella to curry, saffron adds a whiff of elegance, a bite of zest, and a pop of color to any recipe. And one of the best saffron benefits is healthy sleep, it’s no wonder why saffron has infiltrated the culinary zeitgeist.
Keep reading to learn all about saffron for sleep and how it helps promote quality rest.
You might be familiar with saffron as a potent and expensive culinary spice used in many fiery Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes. But its place in a better night’s rest is now beginning to encourage its use in dishes far beyond its origins.
Known as “red gold,” saffron has long been heralded as one of the priciest spices in the world. It’s harvested from the Crocus sativus plant, a lovely low-growing flower that’s often the first harbinger of spring in temperate regions. In its spice form, saffron’s long, threadlike pistils are sold by weight and often found in tiny glass apothecary jars at the grocery store.
Don’t underestimate its size, however, these minuscule strands pack a powerful punch, with only a few needed to bring big culinary flavor.
When it comes to sleep, saffron helps by promoting rest and relaxation. The bioactive compounds, like crocin, crocetin, and safranal, help the body in many ways, from calming our minds to reducing inflammation.
Here’s some of the ways saffron supplementation can support healthy sleep:
If you find yourself lying awake in the middle of the night or it takes you hours and hours to float off to dreamland, you may have a disrupted sleep cycle. Saffron could be your first-class ticket to sleep by easing symptoms of restlessness and allowing you to achieve restful and restorative sleep.
A 2021, six-week clinical trial of 66 individuals with chronic insomnia and anxiety found that saffron had a positive effect on sleep duration and quality.1 This marks an exciting development for saffron doubling up in the spice cabinet and the medicine cabinet.
Another study of saffron as a sleep aid supplement found that participants who took either 14 or 28 mg of saffron before bed for 28 days found increased melatonin levels in the evening. Participants also reported greater improvements in sleep quality and better moods in the morning, according to the Insomnia Symptom Questionnaire (ISQ).2
Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone in the body that helps regulate your circadian rhythm and help your body prepare for rest. Melatonin production is typically triggered by darkness, but you can also increase melatonin by eating or drinking items that encourage production (like saffron) or naturally contain the hormone. Melatonin has often been used as a standalone supplement for better sleep, although it can lead to a groggy feeling in the morning.
Thanks to saffron’s natural properties, this flower shows great promise as a supportive alternative.
Daily stressors can stick with us through the evening and cause trouble when our brains are trying to wind down for the night. Maybe there’s a month-long work assignment with a deadline creeping up toward the end of the week. Or maybe there’s trouble in a friendship or relationship.
Overthinking and worrying, especially as you’re lying awake at night, will prevent you from melting into the dream state needed to recover from the day’s stress.
While many researchers have investigated the various ways saffron can aid people in stress reduction, one particular study found that saffron extract could increase dopamine levels in the brain.3
Adequate dopamine levels are associated with more even-keeled emotional states. With an added saffron supplement, you might be able to chase away those racing thoughts.
Waking up from a long and restorative night’s rest impacts the state of mind with which we approached the day. This cycle then repeats itself—having an enhanced mood before we go to sleep is also beneficial for a calm mind to ease into rest.
In addition to its melatonin support, the dopamine-enhancing effects of saffron have been shown to support improved overall moods. In a recent clinical study, researchers found saffron had a positive effect on emotional well-being among the participants in the 56-day trial. They also found a reduction in heart rate variability when exposed to stressors, lending credence to saffron’s ability to reduce stress and regulate mood.4
Saffron’s benefits may extend far beyond sleep support and mood regulation, especially considering how important sleep is in our overall quality of life. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, sleep impacts nearly all areas of our life, such as:5
With all the ways restorative sleep can improve quality of life, helping your brain and body get into the right state for beneficial sleep is critical. Saffron is one simple (and delicious) way of giving yourself a much-needed bedtime boost.
There are many ways to take saffron to encourage restful, restorative sleep. Try incorporating any of these ways to take saffron for sleep into your evening bedtime routine to help you get to sleep faster and build a morning routine to make you happy:
Ensure you get the best sleep you can by combining supplements with other sleep encouraging habits like wearing a sleep mask to block out light, avoiding screens and harsh blue light, cozy bedding, and a comfortable room temperature.
Additionally, be sure to take any sleep enhancing supplements at least 30 minutes before bedtime to give them time to work through your system for maximum benefit.
Different herbs and supplements benefit our body’s functions in different ways, making it worthwhile to combine different herbs with similar purposes to affect our body systems from different angles for the desired outcome. Remember to always stay within recommended dosage levels and consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns.
Taken alone or combined for superpowered sleep support, these natural ingredients also help encourage restful and regenerative sleep:
Just as our different internal systems work cohesively to keep our body running, nature-powered herbs and supplements in various combinations can work together to positively affect our well-being.
Sleep is crucial in maintaining and improving our health and keeping our bodies functioning optimally. At Plant People, we have expertly crafted herbal supplements for sleep support so you can rest easy and wake up happy.
Combining holistic science and regenerative practices, we strive to provide the best in botanical plant and mushroom supplements to unlock the power in people. Take our short quiz to find your perfect product and start the journey to restorative whole body health today.
Written by Emily Spring
Emily Spring is the Director of Marketing at Plant People. A longtime proponent of balanced living, she has enjoyed over 8 years driving growth in the lifestyle, health and wellness sectors with deep experience in functional solutions for optimizing anyone's everyday life.
Reviewed by Gabe Kennedy
Co-Founder of Plant People, Gabe Kennedy is an acclaimed chef and entrepreneur. Growing up in a house of healers and herbalists, he is passionate about the power of food as a tool for health, and actualized this passion and belief system into his company, Plant People. Named to Forbes 30 under 30 Gabe has shaped menus and cooked his way around the world with his mission to promote a more communal, green and healthy world.
Gabe is a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America and Cornell University School of Hotel Administration. You can learn more about his work at his website.