Updated: Jul 10, 2020
How can you get a better night's sleep? We all know that sleep is important for optimal wellness. When we don't get our beauty sleep, we can get really cranky and out-of-sorts. Lack of sleep can increase the likelihood weight gain, decrease immune response, lower your sex drive and make your brain fuzzy and slow. Chronic sleep deprivation can even put you at higher risk for serious health problems like heart disease, diabetes and stroke.
Most of us have experienced sleep difficulties at some time in our life - either trouble falling asleep or difficulty staying asleep. Sleep can be hard to come by when times are stressful or when we feel anxious. In fact, stress and anxiety can make us restless throughout the night, which can lead to increased fatigue the next day. Even when we are anticipating a positive life event, like a new job or a special holiday, sleep can become elusive.
If you find yourself becoming sleep-deprived, aromatherapy could help. Aromatherapy is the modern term for the ancient practice of using essential oils - which are plant extracts - as a holistic healing treatment to promote health and wellbeing. Aromatherapy is easily one of the most enjoyable ways you can try to help you catch some extra zzzz's.
There are a variety of essential oils that can support your relaxation journey, both physically and mentally, making it easier to fall asleep and helping you to sleep more soundly. The most studied essential oil is lavender, which has been found to effectively promote better sleep.
How to use essential oils for relaxation and sleep
Are you new to aromatherapy? Here are some simple suggestions to get you started:
Pay attention to your body
If you have any chronic condition, like asthma, talk to your doctor before using a diffuser. Also, the most common allergic reaction to essential oils is contact dermatitis, but if you are allergic to a certain flower or grass, you may also be allergic to the essential oil made from that plant.
Check the quality
Use the best oils possible. It's a good idea to use organic oils as well.
Consider your pets
Be careful diffusing essential oils around your pets. Because animals often have a heightened sense of smell, some oils are potential irritants for your furry friends. Contact your veterinarian for specific recommendations.
Use a diffuser
Try diffusing essential oils to disperse essential oils into a room. When using a diffuser, essential oil is added to water so it can be dispersed in the room in an aromatic mist. Each diffuser is different, so make sure you follow manufacturer's directions.
Don't use too much
It's easy to add more oil to a diffuser, so don't overdue a new oil or blend.
If you don't have a diffuser, there are other ways to enjoy essential oils. Try placing a few drops of essential oil on a cotton ball and place it nearby. You may be surprised at how well it works! Some oils can be used topically, but others are not appropriate and can cause irritation. Also, oils that can be used on your arms and legs are not necessarily safe for your nose, mouth or other sensitive body parts. Carrier oils can be used to make essential oils easier on your skin. Make sure to do your research before using essential oils directly on your body, and if you do decide to use an essential oil on your skin, test a small area first.
My personal go-to blend for better sleep:
6 drops of lavender for relaxation and stress relief
4 drops of bergamot to relieve anxiety
4 drops of sweet marjoram for calm and for healthy respiratory function
Try adding a few drops of any of these oils to customize your relaxing blend:
Valerian - This interesting and earthy scent is calming and grounding. This essential oil is known for its sleep-promoting benefits.
Eucalyptus - I love eucalyptus! It cleanses the air and opens my sinuses.
Frankincense - This essential oil is earthy and spicy with a little bit of a fruity scent. It's very grounding for mind and body and it is used to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
For essential oil blends, these are a few of my current favorites for relaxation, sleep and stress relief:
The right scents for you are the ones that make you feel relaxed. Have fun, experiment and be open to the experience. Aromatherapy can be an effective tool to help you get a great night's sleep!
Hwang, E., & Shin, S. (2015). The Effects of Aromatherapy on Sleep Improvement: A Systematic Literature Review and Meta-Analysis. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 21(2), 61–68. doi: 10.1089/acm.2014.0113
Karadag, E., Samancioglu, S., Ozden, D., & Bakir, E. (2015). Effects of aromatherapy on sleep quality and anxiety of patients. Nursing in Critical Care, 22(2), 105–112. doi: 10.1111/nicc.12198