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As people begin to focus more on healthy, clean living, dietary concerns and physical activity have been at the forefront. As we learn more about what foods are good or bad for us and how to add new forms of exercise to the routines of our busy lives, we continue to find new and innovative ways to improve our health.
On the other hand, sleep is still a mystery to many — but since we spend about a third of our lives in bed, it only follows that we should work just as hard to increase our healthy sleep habits as we do on diet and exercise. Beyond getting the right quantity of sleep, quality matters too — if you’re waking up throughout the night tossing and turning, that can affect your health and daily function just as much as a lack of sleep.
While over-the-counter sleep aids work for some, there is both anecdotal and scientifically researched evidence for the efficacy of essential oils in helping people get to sleep, get the right amount of sleep, and sleep through the night — the three keys to avoiding the negative impacts of lack of sleep.
Negative Impacts from Lack of Sleep
Insufficient sleep, whether you aren’t getting enough or are experiencing low-quality sleep, contributes to many potential health concerns.
On a day-to-day basis, lack of sleep results in impaired cognitive function, affecting attention, working memory, long-term memory, and decision-making. The repercussions of this range from poor workplace performance to car crashes, and in some cases, it can even cause memory-related anxiety and depression. On a more long-term basis, poor sleep contributes to the risk for chronic health problems like hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes.
Around 90% of people who suffer from insomnia also suffer from another physical or psychological health issue. Lack of sleep also lowers your sex drive, ages your skin, and compromises your immune system. So for an aspect of life that many people take for granted, there are some serious consequences for ignoring sleep problems.
Essential Oils for Sleep
It goes without saying that you should consult your physician if you’re having serious sleep problems. Still, you can definitely enhance your sleep success with natural sleep solutions, including essential oils for sleep.
“As always with children, please take precautions in using essential oils with them. Their bodies are smaller, making essential oils more potent. Please consult their physician before proceeding,” cautions Sarah Brown, community sleep and wellness expert for Mattress Firm.
The following list comprises a comprehensive list of individual essential oils that will help you fall asleep, stay asleep, and get the right amount of sleep.
Bergamot essential oil is derived from the rind of pleasant-smelling citrus fruit. Beyond simply smelling nice, Bergamot essential oil reduces anxiety and improves mood, making it easier to fall asleep. Bergamot can be used via diffused inhalation or in a diluted topical application.
Cedarwood essential oil possesses a woodsy scent that many people find comforting. But, beyond that pleasant, comforting feeling, a study of its effects on the autonomic nervous system shows an increase in parasympathetic activity and a reduction of sympathetic activity, suggesting that cedarwood has effective and safe sedative effects.
The best way to use cedarwood essential oil is to diffuse it in the air before bedtime to help you get to sleep.
Using chamomile to fight insomnia is far more than just an old wives’ tale. Chamomile features bioactive phytochemicals with various therapeutic effects as an herbal medicine with a long history. Throughout its long use, chamomile has been used to treat conditions ranging from the common cold to anxiety, diabetes, and seizures.
Its use as a sleep aid both in chamomile tea and as an essential oil for aromatherapy is due to its natural sedative effects.
Clary sage brings you clarity. It also reduces stress and diastolic blood pressure. Its use as a sleep aid hasn’t been scientifically verified — yet — but its relaxing properties are as undeniable as the pleasantness of its smell.
Mix small amounts of the essential oil into salves or soaps for the best results.
Coriander is a great addition when your food needs a little seasoning, but the herb has many healthy properties beyond the fact that it makes things tasty. For example, coriander contains linalool, a common aromatherapy sleep ingredient also present in lavender.
The essential oil can be ingested in small quantities or applied to the skin.
The exploration into the potential for sleep aid from frankincense essential oil has only just begun. Inhaling the oil in regular breaths has a relaxing, soothing effect, helping you get to sleep in a particularly meditative manner.
Long ago used along with its cousin myrrh as holy incense, frankincense is experiencing a revitalization in popularity as a healing essential oil.
One of the most widely used essential oils, lavender serves many purposes.
It lowers your blood pressure, lowers your heart rate, and cools your skin temperature — all of which make getting to sleep and staying asleep throughout the night easier. Just as lavender serves many purposes, there are many ways to use the herb, including diffusing it in the air in your bedroom or spreading some of the essential oil on the underside of your pillow before bed.
They don’t call it the Purple Flower of Peace for nothing.
More than half of Americans suffer from chronic or acute pain, which is a major cause of insomnia. One of the essential oils most often used to fight pain, marjoram helps pain sufferers sleep by providing pain relief and sedative effects.
The recommended method for using marjoram oil is inhalation with a diffuser.
Derived from bitter orange blossoms, the scent of neroli is a popular perfume ingredient. In addition, Neroli essential oil reduces stress and blood pressure levels in women, both of which lead to a better night’s sleep.
Without any dangerous side effects, other benefits of neroli essential oil include improving mood and quality of life for menopausal women.
One of the major causes of insomnia is anxiety-reducing anxiety can thus improve your sleep. The ambient aroma of orange essential oil has been proven to reduce anxiety and relax those who use it. Unlike with pharmaceutical anxiety medications, there are no serious side effects.
In fact, the same study showing the reduction in anxiety also indicated improved mood as an effect of ambient orange aroma.
Studies into santol, a major component of sandalwood essential oil, reveal its potential as a natural sleep solution.
Research shows that it works via the circulatory rather than olfactory system, so even if you don’t like the smell of sandalwood, it can still help you sleep with its sedative effects.
Extract from the root of the valerian plant has long been a home remedy for sleep troubles in Europe, used to treat insomnia since the 17th century, and it’s gaining popularity in the United States.
Relatively inexpensive, valerian essential oil helps you avoid the “hangover symptoms” present in some medicinal sleep aids, with some studies showing it to be 80% more effective than using no sleep aid at all.
Vetiver’s rich, earthy smell tends to make regular vetiver essential oil users feel more grounded and comforted. In addition, the plant has a long history of medicinal uses, with many cultures using it to stimulate and improve mental function.
Because of its scientifically proven ability to increase alertness, its use may be a great way to fight the effects of insomnia.
Along with its gorgeous, light, floral scent, ylang-ylang essential oil has soothing effects that reduce hypertension and your heart rate. According to this study, the overall effect is one of relaxation, and the reduced heart rate and blood pressure help you stay asleep throughout the night once you drift off.
Ylang-ylang oil can be diffused and inhaled to achieve these relaxing effects or mixed with a base oil or moisturizing cream and applied to the skin.
Important for its traditional use as a soothing smell in Japan, the fragrance of yuzu oil not only provides a pleasing scent but is proven to decrease mood disturbance and improve parasympathetic nervous system activity, both of which lead to better quality sleep.
Use of a diffuser in the bedroom to disperse the scent is recommended to get the best results.
How to Use Essential Oils for Sleep
Now that you have a wide variety of natural sleep solutions to choose from, it’s time to learn how to use essential oils for sleep.
Essential oils are generally inhaled to enjoy the scent and restorative properties or mixed with a carrier oil and applied directly to the skin in small quantities.
The pleasant smell of many essential oils makes inhalation the best way to use them.
Here are a few ways to get the most out of your aromatic essential oils:
- An aromatherapy diffuser
- An aromatherapy inhaler
- Aromatherapy smelling salts
- A shower steamer
- In the bath
Essential oils can also be blended with salves, soaps, and lotions and applied directly to the skin. Before applying any essential oil to your skin, make sure to properly dilute and verify that you are not allergic to the oil.
Practicing Sleep Hygiene
While essential oils can help you sleep faster, sleep longer, and wake up feeling more rested, these natural sleep solutions will go by the wayside if you don’t practice proper sleep hygiene — the behaviors needed to ensure healthy sleep.
Many key aspects of sleep hygiene seem like common sense, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t practice the necessary behaviors.
Develop a sleep-oriented routine, including these key elements:
- Going to bed at the same time each night
- Waking up at the same time each morning
- Finishing eating, drinking alcohol, or exercising at least three hours before bedtime
- Avoiding nicotine altogether
- Avoiding caffeine after 2 pm
By combining the right essential oils for sleep with proper sleep hygiene, you’ll be experiencing the best rest of your life in no time.
The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.
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