Saffron found to improve sleep quality, but there’s a catch

Brittany A. Roston - Mar 2, 2020, 4:58 pm CST
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Saffron found to improve sleep quality, but there’s a catch

A popular, but pricey, spice called saffron may be able to improve sleep quality in adults who often experience unrestful nights, according to a new study. The research comes from the same team that previously linked saffron with an antidepressant effect, at least in people who have up to moderate depression and who are also taking a prescription antidepressant medication.

Saffron is a popular spice derived from the flower best known as ‘saffron crocus.’ The spice resembles a crimson-colored thread; it is plucked from the crocus flowers, meaning that unlike other spices, this one hard to gather in large quantities. As a result, true saffron is the most expensive spice in the world.

Despite the cost, this spice remains popular as a supplement in addition to an ingredient, with some people claiming to experience various benefits from this compound. One of those benefits, past research has found, may be a reduction in depression symptoms for people who have mild or moderate depression.

The latest study out of Murdoch University has also found that saffron may improve sleep quality in people who don’t have depression and who are physically healthy, but who report experiencing poor sleep quality night after night. The participants in the study were described as medication-free for at least four weeks leading up to the study.

The researchers found that saffron improves sleep quality, but there’s a ‘catch’ — the research involved a pharmaceutical-grade saffron extract called ‘affron’ that was dosed at 14mg twice per day. The beneficial effects on sleep quality were reported during the first week of study, though additional research with larger groups of people is necessary.

Because the study involved a standardized saffron extract, some people may struggle to get the same benefits by taking raw, dried saffron or over-the-counter supplements.


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