One of the important elements of a good night’s sleep is an environment that promotes relaxation. This means having a comfortable bed, the right temperature, no or minimal light, and minimal noise (or the right kind of noise, such as music, nature sounds, or white noise). But if you’ve already taken care of your senses of touch, sight, and hearing, and yet still have trouble falling asleep, then it’s time to consider addressing your sense of smell, too.
Research has shown that some scents may relieve you of your anxiety, which is what may be keeping you up at night. If drifting off to dreamland night after night is proving to be a challenge, then consider introducing calming scents into your sleeping environment by using essential oils for insomnia.
What Are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are natural oils extracted from plants through distillation. This process allows the oils to retain the properties of the plant source, scent and all.
Essential oils are highly potent and can cause irritation when used in large doses, so it’s best to use them sparingly and blend them with carrier oils when using them on skin or hair. Coconut oil is one of the more popular carrier oils.
Essential Oils that Help You Sleep
Below are some of the relaxing oils that you can use to promote sleep:
Lavender. Lavender essential oil is possibly the most common oil to be used as a sleep aid. A study found lavender oil aromatherapy lowered blood pressure, heart rate, and skin temperature and also changed brain waves to a more relaxed state. Lavender has also been linked to better sleep quality and reduced anxiety (such as in dental offices and hospital settings). A small study in 2005 found that lavender improved sleep quality in the participants.
Citrus. This family of scents includes lemon and bergamot, which is a type of orange.
A review published in Frontiers in Pharmacology cites clinical studies stated that bergamot essential oil aromatherapy “can be useful to reduce anxiety and stress effects.” Reduced anxiety means a brain that isn’t overthinking and a body that is less tense, helping you get into the sleep zone.
Clary sage. A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that clary sage oil helped relax women who were undergoing a urodynamic assessment.
Jasmine. Research published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry found that jasmine can soothe, relieve anxiety, and promote sleep—and can in fact be just as strong and effective as a sleeping pill or mood enhancer.
Valerian. This plant has been used as a sleep aid for centuries.
Sandalwood. Some research suggests that sandalwood has sedative effects and can reduce anxiety. Do note that different people have different reactions to sandalwood—it makes some people feel relaxed while simultaneously making them more alert. If you find that this is how it affects you, then save the scent for daytime and try another essential oil for slumber.
How to Use Essential Oils for Sleep
There are a number of ways you can use essential oils for sleep:
Apply to your skin. Dab your oil of choice onto your wrists, palms, or the soles of your feet—but make sure to mix it with a carrier oil first; otherwise, you might experience some skin irritation.
Scent your pillows. Add a few drops of your chosen essential oil to the underside of your pillow before bedtime and the scent will accompany you until morning.
Add it to your bath. If you have a bathtub, you can add a few drops to a hot bath and soak before bedtime. For additional muscle relaxation, add Epsom salt.
DIY a relaxing room spray. Put some water and a few drops of essential oil into a spray bottle and spray around your bedroom and on your sheets.
Use a diffuser. The amount of oil and water you use will depend on the diffuser that you have. Follow instructions carefully. You can also try some essential oil diffuser blends—mix a few different oils together to come up with a customized scent that you find most relaxing. A few essential oil blends to start with:
- valerian + lavender
- bergamot + patchouli + vetiver
- bergamot + frankincense + vetiver
- clary sage + ylang-ylang + sandalwood
Play around with your favorite relaxing scents to come up with the perfect essential oil blend for you.