Essential oils are all in the rave right now, and that is for a reason – it works for a variety of purposes, from disinfecting the air, weight loss, allergy relief and so much more. In this article, we will be focusing on how essential oils help a person fall asleep naturally and have restful, quality sleep. Unlike synthetic sleeping aids, essential oils do not cause major side effects on the user and are, generally, cheaper. Even some healthcare facilities are turning towards aromatherapy and essential oils to help their patients deal with anxiety and sleep deeper.
The Importance of a Good Sleep
As one of the most important restorative processes of our body, getting enough sleep is just as important as getting enough food and water. An adult needs to have at least 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep but, nowadays, achieving that is not easy. Caffeine, screen time, stress, and late night activities prove to be detrimental to our health as it disrupts sleeping habits.
Aside from getting the sufficient hours of sleep, a person also needs to have the right quality of sleep. Anxiety and a room setup not conducive to sleeping may result in a restless person tossing and turning in bed.
What Causes Sleeplessness
Certain factors deprive a person of good sleep. Noise, lighting, heat level, and the physical attributes of a place where a person will sleep greatly contributes to the quality of sleep a person will get. Furthermore, what goes on inside the body will also affect a person’s sleep. Allergies and pain can prevent his body to relax and make it difficult for a person to fall asleep. Likewise, dietary practice will also trigger troubled sleep especially if a person ate foods which are not easily digested by the body or drank alcoholic or caffeinated beverages near bedtime. Lastly, thoughts and emotions may also prevent the body, the mind, and the eyes to shut off.
As a result of sleep deprivation, a person may feel tired throughout the day, get cranky and anxious, and may also experience difficulty in concentration, decreased judgement, and irritable. In the long run, lack of sleep may also lead to stroke or heart attack.
Sleeping Aids and Medications
Modern medicine addresses insomnia or sleeplessness through sleeping aids and medications. However, too much dependence on these drugs has unwanted side effects to a person such as burning sensation in the hands, arms, feet, or legs, changes in the appetite, constipation, drowsiness, diarrhea, headache, stomach pain, uncontrollable shaking, and breathing difficulty.
Essential Oils for Good Sleep
Fortunately, there is an alternative way to address sleeplessness that is way safer, healthier, and more affordable. Essential oils can do a lot of things to help a person calm down and eventually, fall asleep. Some essential oils are natural sedatives and can diminish anxiety, lower blood pressure and relieve stress that builds up during the day. Though essential oils cannot address all causes of sleeplessness, these oils have relaxing and soothing properties that can ease the discomfort a person feels which prevents him to fall asleep or to have a restful one.
Here are nine essential oils are known for their wonders in inducing sleep and have been used in ages to help achieve a good night sleep.
Lavender Essential Oils
Lavender came from the Latin word ‘lavare’ which means ‘to wash,’ the essential oil sourced from this plant is considered to be a super oil, particularly when it comes to inducing a good, quality sleep. As a widely regarded natural source for peaceful slumber, lavender has sedative properties and a relaxing effect on the body and mind as it eliminates all types of tension, preparing the body for rest.
It helps calm the nervous system as it lowers blood pressure and heart rate and enhances blood circulation to help the body transition to sleep. It also reduces anxiety by causing changes in the brain activity to bring the body into the state of relaxation.
Furthermore, it relieves symptoms of pain, acts as an anti-depressant, and treat respiratory problems.
A ten percent solution of lavender oil and sesame or coconut oil (one drop of lavender oil to 9 drops of carrier oil) may be prepared to use in a variety of ways to induce sleep. Four drops of the oil blend may be dropped on a cotton ball and place inside a small cup or glass which the person may inhale before going to sleep. Do not dispose of the cotton inside the container as it may be placed on the bedside table overnight to prolong the effect of the essential oil.
Lavender is, generally, safe to be applied directly to the skin. However, performing a skin patch test is a standard operating procedure when using essential oil topically.
A word of caution, though. Lavender is known to cause prepubertal gynecomastia in boys—a condition where boys develop breast tissues—and increase estrogen levels, so it is important to consult a doctor before using it.
Have been used since the 17th century to ease insomnia, valerian root contains valerenic acid that helps a person get into an uninterrupted, deeper restorative sleep easier. After such deep slumber, a person will wake up energized the following day.
Not only it is famous for its sedative properties, but valerian root is also famous for elevating mood and eliminating depression.
To use valerian root for a night of restful, uninterrupted sleep, put a few drops of the essential oil in a diffuser and turn it on a few hours before sleeping time. The diffused valerian root micro particles will fill the room, inducing s deep slumber.
Take note, however, that valerian root has a musky, woody scent that may not smell pleasant to everyone. Mix valerian root with another essential oil with a nice scent such as lavender, cedarwood, or pine, so everyone can have a nice trip to slumber land.
There are quite a few types of marjoram, but the sweet variety is the one that calms and sedates the nervous system, working wonders for insomnia. The essential oil directly interacts with the central nervous system and the pineal gland, facilitating the release of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep and wakefulness, in to the blood.
Moreover, sweet marjoram can ease hyperactivity, soothe feelings of grief, loneliness, and rejection, reduce anxiety and stress hormones, calming the mind which makes it easier for the body to fall into sleep. It also has a warm, spicy scent that soothes the muscle and relieves joint aches.
Some people mix a few drops of sweet marjoram essential oil into a glass of warm water and drink it before bedtime, helping the body to calm down and the mind to drift off to sleep.
An ancient herb with a light, floral scent known for its soothing, calming, and relaxing properties, the Roman Chamomile has been used to help people who lack sleep because of chronic stress, headaches, or disorders of the nervous system. Roman chamomile is known in centuries as one of the best natural sedative and a popular way to fight off insomnia.
It is also known to aid in the efficiency of digestive functions and people turn to it when they suspect that indigestion prevents them from nodding off to sleep.
Chamomile tea is also a great choice to help the body relax and prepare for sleep.
In aromatherapy, chamomile essential oil is used by sprinkling a drop or two into a bowl of steaming water. The steam will also help a person drift off to sleep.
Another way of using chamomile for sleep is by diluting the oil with carrier oils and rubbing the bottom of the feet with the oil mixture before bedtime.
Chamomile essential oil should be handled with care, though, as it causes skin rashes in some people. Better to perform a skin patch test before handling any essential oil and observe how the skin reacts with the oils.
Bergamot is a citrus fruit used in Italian folk medicine. If most citrus oils are stimulating, bergamot essential oil is calming as it contains several flavonoids which soothes the nerves, reducing anxiety and stress. It also lowers blood pressure, reduces depression, and helps treat insomnia. Moreover, these flavonoids help regulate body hormones such as serotonin and dopamine, neurotransmitters in the brain responsible for sleep cycle, putting the body in a relaxed state.
Furthermore, bergamot also triggers physiological changes that help the body transition to sleep such as reducing heart rate and blood pressure, as well as a feeling of anxiety and stress which keeps people up at night. Most importantly, it helps to lengthen the duration of the restorative stage of sleep which will, then, result in increased energy after the person wakes up.
Acting also as a pain reliever, muscle relaxer, and antibacterial, bergamot reduces the presence of cortisol in saliva and prohibits the release of adrenaline
To benefit from its sleep-inducing properties, some people add 5-10 drops of bergamot oil to a hot bath and soak in it while inhaling the steam. The best activity after indulging in such bath? Sleeping.
Do practice caution in using bergamot essential oil topically as it is photosensitive and may make the skin more sensitive when exposed to the sun.
Containing cedrol which produces its sedative effect, cedarwood essential oils are believed to be the most grounding one when it comes to sleep. Its’ comforting, woodsy scent diffused in the air before bedtime will help a person doze off. The same scent will also help calm down the brain after a busy day.
An effective natural sedative, it also helps decrease heart rate and blood pressure and relieves stress and anxiety, all of which paves the way for a more relaxing sleep. Not only that, it kicks starts the production of serotonin and melatonin, which contributes to a restorative sleep and gives a refreshed and energized feeling to a person upon waking up.
Cedarwood also helps ease discomfort through its anti-inflammatory, expectorant, and antiseptic properties, alleviating symptoms of respiratory ailments that disrupts the sleep.
Though what works for one may not work for another, the key here is finding the high-quality essential oil from reputable sources that matches a person needs and knowing the right way of using it. Essential oils with added chemicals or artificially produce may also cause the same side effect with that of sleeping aids, so it is important to make sure that a person only uses pure and unadulterated one.
A few drops of cedarwood in the diffuser will help stimulate the pineal gland to release melatonin while a couple of drops diluted in a carrier oil placed in the forehead, temples, neck, and the underside of the wrist will help a person nod off to a deep slumber.
Harvested from the cananga tree which is indigenous to Indonesia, Ylang-Ylang flowers produce essential oil containing linalool which is effective in reducing stress level. This fruity oil sourced from Southeast Asia is a natural sedative, helps improve relaxation, decrease blood pressure, and eliminate anxiety to help a person all into a deep and restorative sleep.
It promotes a feeling of well-being, helps the mind slow down, and controls emotions. Whether used topically or aromatically, ylang-ylang has a positive effect on the body’s limbic system while helping control hypertension.
When diffused, ylang-ylang essential oil helps reduce inflammation while giving off a gorgeous scent that also acts as a natural air freshener.
It is important to note that ylang-ylang should not be applied directly to the skin and just like any essential oil; it is best used when diluted in a carrier oil such as jojoba oil, sweet almond oil, or avocado oil. Do not use on children below two years of age.
With its warm, rich, and woodsy fragrance commonly used in incense, perfumes, and aftershaves, Sandalwood has both sedative and medicinal properties. It also stimulates the body’s production of melatonin that regulates the circadian rhythm and helps achieve a regular sleeping pattern while relaxing cramped muscles which may be the culprit behind a person’s sleeplessness.
Sandalwood is also anxiolytic—it helps clear the mind of anxiety.
Aside from that, this essential oil is a good mood balancer, grounding the person using it so he can calm down to a meditative state before he goes to sleep.
Also, sandalwood has anti-inflammatory properties, induces positive thoughts, increases concentration, soothes the nervous system, and promotes healthy sleep.
The aroma of sandalwood is powerful enough to put people into sleep. Add a few drops into a diffuser and let its sedative properties fill the room before bedtime.
Be careful in inhaling sandalwood as there have been reports of elevated pulse rates and blood pressure among people who inhaled this essential oil. If in doubt or to be sure, consult a doctor before using any essential oil.
Popular since Biblical times, frankincense can effectively help a person get a better quality of sleep by lowering the body’s stress hormone levels and helping clear the mind without the accompanying energy boost to make way for a relaxed state before falling asleep.
The essential oil is also effective in opening up nasal passages to reduce snoring and allowing the body to take deep breaths.
The frankincense is also believed to send calming messages to the limbic system that helps reduce stress and improve mood. It also offers other health benefits such as immunity boost while reducing chronic stress, anxiety, and inflammation.
To wake up with a balanced mood, some people mix a few drops of frankincense and bergamot oils and rub the mixture in between palms and breathe in deeply before going to sleep. Some sprinkle 2-3 drops of the essential oil on their pillow.
Essential Oil Blends for Sleep
Blends, or a mixture of two or more essential oils, are enjoyable as well, and they pack on a dynamic fusion of components which will help induce deep restorative sleep.
1. For sleeplessness due to anxiety:
- 2 drops of Roman Chamomile
- 2 drops of Sweet Marjoram
- 2 drops of Lavender
- 10 ml carrier oil of choice
To use: Massage the feet with a few drops of this blend or skip the carrier oil and use in a diffuser
2. For sleeplessness due to stiff muscles:
- 1 drop of Rosemary
- 3 drops Eucalyptus
- 2 drops Lavender
- 10 ml carrier oil of choice
To use: Massage onto the stiff muscles or skip the carrier oil and use in a diffuser
3. For sleeplessness due to stress and headache
- 2 drops Geranium oil
- 1 drop Lavender
- 1 drop Sweet Orange
- 10 ml carrier oil of choice
To use: Massage into aching muscles in the neck, forehead, or shoulder or skip the carrier oil and use in diffuser
4. For releasing tension and anxiety
- 2 drops Lavender
- 3 drops Frankincense
- 3 drops Sandalwood
To use: Add 10 drops of the blend to a diffuser and diffuse a few hours before bedtime
5. For sleeplessness due to nausea
- 2 drops Peppermint
- 2 drops Sweet Orange
- 10 ml carrier oil of choice
To use: Massage onto the feet and stomach or skip the carrier oil and use in a diffuser
How to Use Essential Oils for Sleep
There are three ways of using essential oils for sleep, and a person might be comfortable in doing one or two methods.
Topical application is the method used when there is a need for the oil to be applied directly to the skin. This method is beneficial because the oils have transdermal properties that enable them to penetrate the skin and work its wonders to the body. Lavender is one of the essential oils which works well to induce sleep especially when used with a carrier oil and used topically, as it can enter the bloodstream in just about 5 minutes.
Aromatherapy or the process of using essential oils through inhalation or diffusion is another effective method of using the oils to sleep. It relies on the sense of smell to help carry the therapeutic and sedative properties of essential oils to the brain and the limbic system. A drop of two of single essential oil or a blend which has sedative properties will ensure a good night sleep.
Some essential oils may also work internally, so some people ingest it by adding a drop of their chosen essential oil to their drinks or mixed with their food. Some take in capsules of essential oils.
Whatever method is chosen, make sure to always consult a doctor before using any essential oil for any purpose as it may react negatively with a person’s biochemistry differently.
Other Ways of Falling Asleep and Getting Quality Sleep Naturally
Aside from using essential oils, there are also natural ways of inducing deep, restorative sleep. To achieve this, one has to take a look at four different factors which affect sleeping such as sleep schedule, sleeping position, room setup, and his activities before bedtime.
Set a regular sleep schedule and stick to it even during weekends. This way, the body can maintain its internal clock that will, eventually, become an alarm clock that will set off when it is already time to sleep and time to wake up.
Sleeping position is also an important factor when it comes to getting deep, restorative sleep. A person is more likely to get a good sleep when he is lying on his back or his side in a fetal-like position.
Another factor to consider is the room setup. Look into the room’s lighting, temperature, and noise levels. All these things should be in a level conducive to sleeping and should not, in any way, disrupt sleep. Invest in a good mattress and good pillow and doing so will make a huge difference.
Finally, a person should be wary of all the activities he does before bedtime. Avoid eating large portions of food during dinner, especially when it is already close to bedtime. As much as possible, avoid caffeinated or alcoholic beverages and do not drink too much liquid, as the need to urinate will interrupt sleep. Do not exercise near bedtime unless it is some form of yoga or any breathing exercises. Lessen screen time and avoid taking electronic gadgets to bed, as the light will wake up the senses and suppress melatonin.
Safety Precaution in Using Essential Oils for Sleep
Use essential oil with care. Patch skin test is a must, especially, in using essential oils topically. Do not apply the oil directly to the skin without diluting it first with a carrier oil. Most experts consider a 2-3 percent dilution safe for use, which can be translated as 12-18 drops of essential oil per ounces of carrier oil or 6-9 drops of essential oil per tablespoon of carrier oil.
Children below six months old should not be exposed to any essential oils because their immune system is still underdeveloped. Topical application of essential oil in low dilution should only be administered to children two years old and above.
There are essential oils which are safe to use during pregnancy but try to avoid using any during the first three months of pregnancy. A pregnant woman should also go slow at first and try using one kind at a time and see how her body reacts.
Sleeping is one of the important processes that the body should go through, for it to function efficiently. However, there are factors in the environment and in the body itself which causes sleeplessness. When a person is a sleep deprived, he cannot function well. Some persons turn to synthetic medicines to help them fall asleep or to have a quality sleep, but these sleeping aids do have negative side effects on the body. Essential oils are truly a better alternative to sleeping medications because of its abundant sedative and therapeutic properties which are naturally-sourced and -produced and are way cheaper. A person will be able to relax, fall asleep naturally, and go on a deep, restorative sleep by using essential oils from lavender, valerian root, sweet marjoram, chamomile, bergamot, ylang-ylang, cedarwood, sandalwood, and frankincense.