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 18-70 with self-reported sleep problems were recruited and randomized to receive either saffron extract (affron; 14 mg twice daily) or a placebo. Outcome measures included the Insomnia Severity Index (ISI; primary outcome measure) collected at baseline and days 7, 14, 21, and 28 and the Restorative Sleep Questionnaire (RSQ) and the 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 sample sizes, treatment periods, objective outcome measures, and volunteers with varying demographic and psychographic characteristics are required to replicate and extend these findings.
CLINICAL TRIAL REGISTRY: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry; Name: Effects of Saffron on Sleep Quality in Healthy Adults with Self-Reported Unsatisfactory Sleep; URL: https://www.anzctr.org.au/Trial/Registration/TrialReview.aspx?id=377781; Identifier: ACTRN12619000863134.
Lopresti AL, et al. Effects of saffron on sleep quality in healthy adults with self-reported poor sleep: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. J Clin Sleep Med. 2020 Jun 15;16(6):937-947. doi: 10.5664/jcsm.8376.