Saffron flowers next to a small bowl of saffron spice

What Is Saffron And Does It Help You Sleep Better?

Written by: Julia Park
Swisse Scientific Affairs Expert

You may have come across saffron in the ingredients’ list of a recipe, or recognise it from its vibrant red hue but did you know it’s also something you can consider reaching for if you are struggling to sleep or experiencing nervous tension? Let’s delve a little deeper into the lesser-known health benefits of this luxurious spice.

What is saffron used for?

One of the most treasured spices in the world, saffron is derived from the Crocus sativus flower. It has been used historically across nations such as Iran, Greece, and India, with its roots tracing back thousands of years [1]. Renowned for its distinct flavour, colour, and fragrance, saffron is best known for its ability to enhance the taste and appearance of a variety of dishes worldwide.

Beyond its culinary uses, saffron's influence extends into the realm of health and wellness. It's been associated with remarkable health benefits, including its potential as a strong antioxidant and a mood booster. The active compounds within saffron, like crocin and safranal, are believed to be the driving force behind these effects [2].

Saffron for sleep

Amid its array of wellbeing uses, saffron has piqued attention for its potential to encourage peaceful sleep and relaxation [3]. While the exact mechanisms behind saffron's sleep-inducing effects are still being unravelled, several factors may contribute to its impact on sleep quality.

Saffron's potent antioxidant properties have been suggested to boost the concentration of sleep hormones and neutralise harmful molecules that impact sleep, potentially leading to improved sleep quality [4,5]. Additionally, saffron interacts with various neurotransmitter systems that play pivotal roles in regulating mood and sleep-wake cycles [3]. Consequently, research has indicated that saffron supplementation can enhance sleep quality and reduce the severity of insomnia [4,6].

There are a number of ways to consume saffron to support sleep. Among the various methods, saffron tea for sleep stands out as a popular choice, thanks to its soothing warmth and aromatic properties. Alternatively, saffron can be consumed in conventional tablet or capsule forms, and it can also be taken as a liquid dropper, which can be useful for those who struggle to swallow tablets. Taking saffron about an hour before bedtime may aid in falling asleep and potentially enhance overall sleep quality [4].

Does saffron help with anxiety symptoms?

Saffron has shown promise in providing relief from nervous tension. The stress-relieving properties of saffron are thought to stem from its potential to impact serotonin levels [7], a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of wellbeing and happiness. By affecting serotonin levels, saffron may help to soothe nervous tension and nervousness, and support healthy mood balance.

There is also research that suggests that saffron is effective in calming stress and improving symptoms of negative mood [8,9,10,11]. While more extensive studies are needed to firmly establish its efficacy, saffron holds promise as a natural option for people seeking stress relief and assistance with managing mild nervous tension. 

Nevertheless, as with any herbal supplement, it is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional, particularly if you're navigating a medical condition that warrants professional guidance.

What is affron®?*

Some supplements may contain the ingredient ‘affron® (saffron)’. Affron® is a standardised extract from saffron, made using a patented extraction process which results in a premium quality of saffron. Its efficacy is backed by clinical trials which demonstrate its ability to support sleep and nervous system health [4,6,8]

How to use saffron

Consider incorporating saffron into your bedtime routine approximately an hour before sleep, to provide your body with ample time to feel its calming benefits. Make sure it’s complemented with good sleep hygiene practice, such as maintaining a regular sleep schedule and ensuring your bedroom is dark and quiet [12]. These collective efforts all work together to form the foundations of sleep.

What is the most effective way to take saffron?

To harness the complete spectrum of benefits that saffron has to offer, maintaining a consistent and effective dosage is key. One of the most convenient and reliable ways to integrate saffron's benefit into your daily routine is through a saffron supplement.

Saffron supplements are a user-friendly option, simplifying the process of incorporating saffron into your wellness regimen. Among these choices, using saffron in the form of a dropper or opting for an innovative smart melt format can be especially effective for those seeking fast results. These options not only provide ease of use but also allow for a more rapid absorption of saffron.

Should I take saffron in the morning or at night? 

Currently there isn't a strict rule regarding whether you should take saffron specifically in the morning or at night. The timing of saffron consumption can depend on various factors, including your personal preferences, the purpose of taking saffron, and any potential interactions with your daily routine. 

Below are some pointers to help you decide when might be the best time for you to incorporate saffron:

For mood enhancement: If you're aiming to tap into saffron's potential mood-enhancing effects, it could be beneficial to take it during the daytime, preferably in the morning. This timing could contribute to uplifting your mood and enhancing emotional wellbeing throughout your day.

For better sleep: If you're looking to utilise saffron to improve your sleep quality, take it approximately one hour before bedtime. This will allow saffron to take effect within your body, potentially aiding in falling asleep more easily and promoting a restful night's sleep.

Ultimately, the ideal timing for saffron intake rests on aligning it with your unique needs and lifestyle. As a general guideline, it is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional, especially if you have underlying medical conditions or are taking other medications, to ensure that saffron complements your wellbeing journey.

*affron® is a registered trademark of Pharmactive Biotech Products, S.L.U.



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Julia Park - Swisse Scientific Affairs Expert