Sleep is important. Sleep insufficiency is linked to motor vehicle crashes and workplace injuries. But the most concerning part is this: People who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to suffer from chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, depression, and obesity. Lack of sleep can also lead to increased mortality, reduced quality of life and decreased productivity. It is estimated that 50-70 million US adults have sleep or wakefulness disorders and 39% of Americans eighteen and over, unintentionally fell asleep during the day, at least once. These statistics are alarming! Why are we not sleeping? The reasons are different for each of us and could include a medical condition, depression, anxiety, food intake or an overall unhealthy lifestyle.
While essential oils can’t add additional hours to our day, they CAN be an all-natural, healthy way to promote a good night’s rest.
Each essential oil has a different effect on an individual’s body and mind. Learning about the different essential oils will help you identify which ones may help you sleep. Keep in mind what may have worked for someone you know might not work for you. Keep trying until you find an oil that is just right for you.
Let’s take a look at the top 10 Essential Oils for Sleep:
This probably isn’t too surprising. Most people are aware that lavender can help you sleep, but what most people don’t know is that lavender has been studied extensively and its effectiveness is more than just an Old Wives Tale. Lavender is known as a very mild oil, but it packs an impressive (and very scientific) punch in the sleep department. One study done in the United Kingdom showed amazing results in using the aroma of Lavender oil for better sleep. Another study observed that inhalation of lavender improved sleep quality of many ICU patients. Other studies have concluded that a lavender foot bath could increase blood flow and promote changes in the autonomic nervous system that are usually present when people are relaxed. Lavender essential oil is an excellent choice to relieve stress and promote relaxation and can also be used as an anti-depressant.
2. Roman Chamomile
Roman Chamomile essential oil is known for its calming, soothing, and relaxing properties. Roman chamomile has a comforting, sweet, and herby scent. Many families report chamomile is effective with their children as a sleep aid. Researchers also report that it can serve as a mild sedative to calm nerves and reduce anxiety to treat hysteria, nightmares, insomnia and other sleep difficulties. It can also help lift your mood and improve symptoms of depression.
Vetiver essential oil is distilled from the roots of the plant. It has a rich and earthy scent, and it a wonderful oil when you need to help your brain “shut-off” for the night. If you don’t care for the smell of Vetiver you might try mixing it with a “lighter” oil, such as lavender or roman chamomile.
4. Ylang Ylang
Ylang Ylang is a floral scent with hints of fruit. Studies have established that Ylang-Ylang oil slows down cognitive processing, which can make it a good option for those who struggle to fall asleep because of racing thoughts. It is also known to increase relaxation and calmness.
Bergamot is a citrus fruit and the oil is cold-pressed from the rind or peel. Most citrus oils (like grapefruit, lemon, and orange) tend to have a stimulating effect, but bergamot is different. It is a bright, yet surprisingly calming oil. It is a great for “emotional balance”, therefore it promotes rest. In a study that tested the effect of bergamot inhaled with water vapor, academics discovered that this oil has the ability to improve mood and reduce anxiety. Even better, it seemed to reduce the presence of the hormone cortisol in the saliva, which they assumed gave it its relaxation inducing properties.
Sandalwood has a rich, woodsy scent. A little bit goes a long way with this one, so don’t let the price detour you from trying it out. Santalol, a major component of Sandalwood essential oil, has been found to calm the central nervous system, which in turn promotes sleep. In a study of sleep-disturbed rats, it caused a significant decrease in total waking time and an increase in total non-rapid eye movement sleep, which is the deepest type of sleep. A subsequent study on human adolescence reached a similar conclusion.
Marjoram essential oil is not only used in cooking. It has a warm, slightly spicy smell and can help create peaceful sleep. Marjoram essential oil can help ease anxiety and stress and fight fatigue.
Cedarwood has an earthy, woody smell and is known to “calm the brain” after a busy day. It blends well with lighter, floral oils, or is great on its own. For those people with restless legs and other involuntary movements during the night, the inhalation of cedarwood essential oil has been found to reduce automatic motor activity and to prolong sleep.
9. Clary Sage
Clary Sage has a lovely fruity, flowery and woodsy smell. It is known to stabilize unsettled emotions and appears to have anti-spasmodic qualities. So one potential use is to quiet spasms in the body, including painful muscle spasms, as well as spasms of the digestive tract. It’s also considered good for relieving indigestion.
Rosemary is another oil that has been proven to decrease the level of cortisol in the saliva. Remember, cortisol is one of the main stress hormones that are released during the “flight or fight” response of the body. Reducing cortisol can lead to a more restful night’s sleep. Combining Rosemary and Lavender essential oils is one the strongest anti-stressors out there. A study released in 2007 said that inhaling Rosemary oil and Lavender oil for five minutes significantly decrease the dangers that stem from chronic stress. Less stress = Better sleep.
Now that you know which oils to try out, let’s talk about how to use them.
Take a Relaxing Bath
Essential oils are not soluble in water. A surfactant needs to be used to properly disperse essential oils in the bath. A surfactant is something that will cause two substances that do not easily mix together (oil and water), to chemically bond and remain mixed. Soap has a chemical structure that is attracted to water on one end and attracted to oil on the other. Shampoo or bubble bath are a fantastic choice. Add 5-7 drops of essential oil along with your surfactant as the water runs to get the best distribution. Always test an essential oil on your skin before adding it to bath water to be certain you won’t have a negative reaction.
Give Yourself a Massage
Giving yourself a gentle massage with essential oils before bed will help relax you and relieve tension. Be sure to mix essential oils with a carrier oil. Sweet almond, coconut or grapeseed work well. A 1:6 ratio is perfect. Apply the oils to your feet, temples, wrists or legs and massage for a few minutes. Keep the massage light or else you’ll stimulate your circulation and have a hard time falling and staying asleep.
Spritz Oils on Bed Linens
If you don’t want to apply an essential oil on directly on your skin, spritz it right on your bed linens. The scent will help you relax. Make your spritzer by adding 10-15 drops of your favorite essential oil for sleep to 1.5 ounces of distilled water. Mix these in a clean, glass spray bottle. You only need to lightly mist your bed linens. Dousing them could make for an uncomfortable night’s sleep.
Run a Diffuser While You Sleep
Essential oil diffusers can be purchased online and are so easy to use. Just add just a few drops of any of the “sleep aid” oils to a bit of water in your diffuser, set by your bedside and you’ll be snoozing in no time.
The promotion of good sleep habits and regular sleep is known as sleep hygiene. Adding these sleep hygiene tips and essential oils to your bedtime routine can be used to improve sleep.
• Go to bed at the same time each night and rise at the same time each morning.
• Avoid large meals before bedtime.
• Avoid caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime.
• Avoid nicotine.
Our bodies truly need sleep to function at optimal health and wellness levels. A little drop of oil, when used properly, can help promote sleep and put you on the path to a healthier lifestyle. What are you waiting for? Get started tonight!!
The information contained in this article is meant for educational purposes only and not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Statements in this article have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. This information should not be relied upon to determine dietary changes, a medical diagnosis or courses of treatment. If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult your physician before using these products.
- 1Medical conditions, anxiety and an unhealthy lifestyle can all affect the quality of our sleep.
- 2Don’t give up! Keep trying essential oils until you find the right one for YOU!!
- 3Practice good “Sleep Hygiene” habits.
People who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to suffer from chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, depression, and obesity.
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