Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera L. Dunal), an Indian medicinal plant that has been used for centuries to treat insomnia, exhibits a variety of biological activities, such as improving cognitive function, immunity and anxiety. In this study, the effect of enzyme-treated Ashwagandha root extract (EA) and on sleep was evaluated using rodent models. Starch contained in the Ashwagandha root extract was removed by amylase treatment to prepare EA. To evaluate the sleep-promoting activity of EA, a pentobarbital-induced sleep test and electroencephalogram analysis were performed. In addition, the sleep-promoting mechanism of EA was elucidated by analyzing the expression of sleep-related receptors. In the pentobarbital-induced sleep test, EA dose-dependently increased sleep duration. Additionally, electroencephalogram analysis revealed that EA significantly increased δ-wave and non-rapid eye movement sleep times, which are involved in deep sleep, thereby improving sleep quality and quantity. EA also effectively relieved caffeine-induced insomnia symptoms. Furthermore, the γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) content in the brain and mRNA and protein expression of GABAA, GABAB1, and serotonin receptors were significantly increased by EA compared to the normal group. In particular, EA showed sleep-promoting activity by binding to various GABAA receptor sites. Collectively, EA exhibited sleep-promoting activity through the GABArergic system and may be used as a functional material to improve sleep deprivation.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.