ESSENTIAL OILS FOR SLEEP
- The natural and lively aromas of essential oils have been used for centuries by herbalists, aromatherapists, and traditional practitioners to encourage relaxation and sleep in those who suffer from insomnia.
- Essential oils are known to influence the psyche in multiple ways; the ones helpful for sleep are most often noted for their calming and mild sedative effects. Other oils may work by lifting the mood and spirit, soothing the muscles, reducing agitation, relieving pain, or balancing the emotions.
- Essential oils that are reputed for their effectiveness in inducing sleep include: Lavender, Rose, Jasmine, Neroli, Bergamot, Roman Chamomile, and Frankincense.
ESSENTIAL OILS: A NATURAL REMEDY FOR RELAXATION AND RESTFUL SLEEP
A restful night of sleep is virtually priceless, contributing to a better quality of life and long-lasting health. With our modern-day lifestyles and stresses, however, proper sleep hygiene has become something of a luxury for many. The inhalation or application of essential oils can provide a safe and effective natural solution to help individuals wind down, relax, and ultimately enable quality sleep for optimal health and rejuvenation.
Historical accounts are rife with ancient botanical remedies used to induce sedative or hypnotic states. The ancient Greeks, for instance, were believed to infuse their pillows with fragrant Thyme to prepare the mind for sleep and shield themselves against nightmares. The ancient Roman physician Galen prescribed the Valerian plant to correct sleep disorders, which (perhaps interestingly!) produces a remarkably pungent and unpleasant smelling oil that was claimed to have sedative powers. Hops, the flowers or cones of the Hop plant, were also reputed to be a potent sleep aid and often combined with Valerian to overcome insomnia.
The energetic and psychological influence of pure essential oils have also long been known. These volatile essences, extracted carefully from botanical sources such as leaves, flowering tops, bark, and resin, contain potent active compounds that can nudge the mind and body towards calming, soothing, and uplifting states when used. In aromatherapy, essential oils are thought to help with sleep through a number of routes:
- Naturally lulling the senses and levels of alertness, causing mild sedation
- Promoting inner relaxation and reducing stress, fear, and worry
- Balancing the emotions or mind to improve the mood
- Soothing the body to help overcome fatigue, pain, or bodily tension
- Relieving the body of restlessness and agitation (especially in children)
Essential oils belong to scent families that are known to share commonalities in their therapeutic properties. As a general guideline, the scents of flowers (such as Rose and Lavender) are often associated with happiness, self-care, and relaxation. These can promote sleep by encouraging a restful mood that reduces nervousness, stress, and hyperawareness. Citrus scents (such as Bergamot) tend to have cheerful and uplifting effects, harmonizing the mind and body by countering any sadness or melancholy. Earthy scents (such as Frankincense) tend to be warming and centering, grounding our mental and physical states so that we become truly relaxed rather than lost in frightful memories or anxieties. Despite these commonalities, each essential oil is inherently unique due to their natural origins, made up of thousands of different constituents that give rise to their complex effects.
A popular question posed by essential oil users seem to be: what are the most effective essential oils for sleep and relaxation? We've compiled a list of the top essential oils that are reputed to induce a relaxed state of mind for optimal sleep, along with tips and ideas on how best to use them!
7 EFFECTIVE ESSENTIAL OILS FOR SLEEP
LAVENDER ESSENTIAL OIL
Perhaps no other essential oil has built such a strong reputation as a traditional sleep remedy than Lavender Oil. This enchantingly floral oil has been the subject of countless research studies demonstrating a relaxing and sedative effect on the mind. In hospitals, fragrancing patients' rooms with the aroma of Lavender has been shown to help them feel comforted enough to fall asleep to contribute to optimal strength and recovery. Even babies who are bathed in Lavender-infused water have been shown to display more signs of happiness, contentment, and better sleep. It is no secret that this emotionally balancing essential oil is potent in its power to calm the nerves, lift the mood, and promote inner tranquility.
The main constituents of Lavender Oil include Linalyl acetate and Linalool, which are believed to activate the parasympathetic nervous system upon inhalation. This allows the mind and body to dial down for rest and recuperation, facilitating slower breathing and reducing anxiety. Those who experience feelings of overwhelm, stress, or even pain that prevents them from getting into a restful state may find the calming aroma of Lavender totally transforms their quality of sleep.
The unique scents and specific composition of different Lavender Oils can differ from variety to variety. A full guide to our Lavender Oil varieties can be found here.
How to use: Diffusing Lavender Oil before sleep is an ideal way to create a serene space, especially after a long and stressful day. Adding a few drops to the bathwater is equally effective. Inhaling directly from the bottle, or after placing a few drops on a cotton ball, is also commonly practiced.
Rose Absolute exudes a deep floral aroma that is simultaneously romantic, alluring, and relaxing. Derived from the Damask Rose (Rosa damascena) through solvent extraction, the price of this precious oil reflects the resource-intensive process required to collect it; as many as 48,400 rose petals are needed to produce just 1 mL of absolute! A feminine and rejuvenating fragrance, Rose Absolute is reputed to stifle feelings of worry and anxiety and has been popular as a simple remedy for insomnia. The scent of Rose has also been shown to improve sleep in people who have difficulty falling asleep and even reduce the incidence of nightmares.
The most prestigious quality of Rose Absolute comes from Bulgaria's famed 'Valley of the Roses'. This region produces an immensely concentrated oil that exudes a complex floral aroma that is majestic yet soft and sensual at the time – one that seems to melt away your worries, seduce the senses, and entrance the mind into rest and sleep.
How to use: Rose Absolute is versatile and shines in topical, inhalation, and bath applications. Due to its concentrated nature, a few drops can go a long way. Add 2-3 drops into your bath to relax the body and senses prior to sleep. A 3% dilution is available, which can be directly applied to the body wherever it feels comfortable (such as the chest, temples, wrists, or feet).
A delicate flower with a hypnotic floral scent, the scent of Jasmine is prized in natural perfumery and aromatherapy. Much like the Damask Rose, Jasmine Absolute is produced by means of solvent extraction, which creates an intensely concentrated aroma that is smooth, flowing, and sensuous. Energetically soothing and an aphrodisiac by nature, this oil can assuage fears and uncertainties while lulling the mind into sleep with its gentle sedative properties. It can also help ease mental tensions that often manifest as headaches.
There are two botanical varieties of Jasmine often used to produce the absolute; our Jasmine Grandiflorum is sweetly floral and enchanting, while our Jasmine Sambac exudes a floral, fresh, sophisticated, and slightly muskier aroma that releases all tension and negativity and deeply relaxes the body.
How to use: The seductive and almost-mystical fragrance of Jasmine Absolute invites one to wear it on the body. Our 3% dilutions of Jasmine Sambac and Jasmine Grandiflorum are perfect for dabbing onto the pulse points (neck, wrists, and ankles) to calm the mind and body. To diffuse, try blending with Sandalwood or Ylang-Ylang Oils to create a beautiful ambience for rest and sleep.
BERGAMOT ESSENTIAL OIL
Cold-pressed from the rinds of fresh Bergamots, this essential oil exudes a brisk citrus scent with gentle spice-floral and herbaceous undertones. As a balancing and harmonizing oil, it is frequently used by aromatherapists to remedy conditions such as anxiety and low mood. For those who find themselves endlessly ruminating or imagining worst-case scenarios at night, inhaling the warm scent of Bergamot Oil can have a profound calming and mood-lifting quality that induces drowsiness and sleep. These observed effects may be driven by the presence of Linalyl acetate and Linalool, which (like Lavender Oil) is thought to be capable of slowing down agitated states of both the mind and body.
How to use: If using topically, a bergaptene-free Bergamot Essential Oil is recommended even at night due to possibility of sun exposure the following day. To bring out the emotional harmonizing effects of this oil, it can be blended with Lavender, Peppermint, Chamomile, or Frankincense Oils.
NEROLI ESSENTIAL OIL
Neroli Essential Oil's lovely floral fragrance is derived from the blossoms of the Bitter Orange tree (Citrus aurantium). Perfumists cherish Neroli for its ethereal scent, which blends easily with floral absolutes and citrus oils to create premium natural fragrances. It is even said to be hypnotic in its actions and functions as an aphrodisiac.
Neroli Oil's chemical composition is made up of compounds that are characteristically associated with relaxation, such as Linalool, Linalyl acetate, and Geraniol. Together, these constituents exert a soothing and relaxing effect on the mind. Notably, Neroli Oil's comforting aroma is used in the aromatherapy treatment of shock or trauma. Its calming effects extend to the body due to its antispasmodic nature.
How to use: Neroli Oil is ideal to use in the bath to relieve day stresses right before sleep. Combine a few drops with 1-2 teaspoons of preferred carrier oil and add to a bath of warm, immersing for twenty minutes. To diffuse, Neroli blends beautifully with other relaxing floral absolutes, including Jasmine and Rose.
FRANKINCENSE ESSENTIAL OIL
The burning of Frankincense has been a symbol of many sacred and spiritual rituals for thousands of years, especially within the ancient cultures of the Middle East and North Africa. Derived from the fragrant resin harvested from Frankincense trees, the oil has a warm, dry, spicy, and lingering woody aroma that is uniquely grounding and comforting. Much like how the resin of Frankincense is produced to heal the injurious cuts of the tree, the scent of its volatile oil is thought to strengthen the mind so that it can rise from fears and anxieties and fortify one's entire well-being. Frankincense Oil helps one center the mind, allowing to shift away from perspectives that are negative or stressful and move towards those that provide peace, hope, and reassurance. Indeed, many individuals find Frankincense a useful oil to diffuse to support spiritual or meditative practices that clear the mind to enable sleep.
How to use: A simple sleep meditation can be facilitated by diffusing the scent of Frankincense Oil in the bedroom to help ground oneself in the present moment. Diluted Frankincense can also be applied to the soles of the feet to help center the mind and body in preparation for sleep.
ROMAN CHAMOMILE ESSENTIAL OIL
The Chamomile herb remains one of the most cherished botanicals in traditional medicine and phytotherapy. The essential oil, distilled from the yellow and white flowering tops, is characteristically soothing and consoling. While all varieties of this oil are calming in nature, perhaps the most popular one used as a natural sleep remedy is Roman Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis), which has a wonderful aroma that is often described as a cross between apples and sweet straw. The active constituents are predominantly pleasant-smelling esters including Butyl angelate and Isobutyl angelate.
Aromatherapists often rely on Roman Chamomile Oil as a mental tonic and to address issues such as stress, emotional disorders, and insomnia. Those who suffer from melancholy and have difficulty maintaining their sleep may find this oil particularly useful.
How to use: Diffuse Roman Chamomile Essential Oil on its own, or blend with Lavender and Geranium Oils to instill a peaceful mood that precedes sleep.
SUGGESTED ESSENTIAL OIL BLEND RECIPES FOR SLEEP
The following aromatherapy blends can be used to create enticing and synergistic aromas that work naturally as an aid for sleep. They can be diffused, massaged onto the body following appropriate dilution, or added to the bath for a relaxing self-care ritual.
Sultry Sleep Blend - to fade away worry and escape from stress
- Jasmine Absolute - 3 drops
- Rose Absolute - 1 drop
- Sandalwood Essential Oil - 2 drops
Heavenly Florals Blend - to create a peaceful, enchanting, garden-like ambience
- Neroli Essential Oil - 2 drops
- Lavender Essential Oil - 2 drops
- Ylang Ylang Essential Oil - 2 drops
Sacred Sleep Blend - to clear the mind and soothe nervousness
- Lavender Essential Oil - 4 drops
- Frankincense Essential Oil - 3 drops
- Sweet Orange Essential Oil - 2 drops
Sweet Dreams Blend - to encourage positive thoughts and stifle fearful dreams
- Roman Chamomile Essential Oil - 5 drops
- Bergamot Essential Oil - 3 drops
- Frankincense Essential Oil - 1 drop
CAUTIONS & ESSENTIAL OILS SAFETY
It is important to note that the information above is intended to be a resource for self-care and general relaxation and is not intended to treat any medical or mental health conditions. An appropriate licensed or registered health professional should be consulted for diagnosing or treating any medical or mental disorders.
It is important to enjoy the benefits of essential oils while using them safely and responsibly. This includes never using them undiluted, performing a skin patch test prior to use, being knowledgeable about the sun's effects after use, and sourcing them from an ethical brand known for quality and purity.
External use only
As with all other New Directions Aromatics products, essential oils are for external use only. Essential oils must never be used near the eyes, inner nose, and ears, or on any other particularly sensitive areas of skin. It is imperative to consult a medical practitioner before using these oils for therapeutic purposes.
Avoid sun exposure for a minimum of 12 hours after topically applying Bergamot Essential Oil.
Pregnancy and other health conditions
Pregnant and nursing women are especially advised not to use essential oils without the medical advice of a physician.
Those with the following health conditions are especially recommended to consult the advice of a physician: cancer, heart-related ailments, skin disorders or allergies, hormone-related ailments, or epilepsy.
Individuals that are taking prescription drugs, undergoing major surgery, or who are at a greater risk of experiencing strokes, heart attacks, or atherosclerosis are also advised to seek medical consultation prior to use.
Children and safety
These oils should always be stored in an area that is inaccessible to children, especially those under the age of seven.
How to conduct a skin patch test
Prior to using any essential oil, a skin test is recommended. This can be done by diluting 1 drop of the essential oil in 4 drops of carrier oil and applying a dime-size amount of this blend to a small area of non-sensitive skin.
Essential Oil side effects
Potential side effects of essential oils include redness, rash, hives, burning, bleeding disorders, decreased speed of healing, low blood pressure, dizziness, headache, nausea, diarrhea, convulsions, and rapid heartbeat. In the event of an allergic reaction, discontinue use of the products and see a doctor, pharmacist, or allergist immediately for a health assessment and appropriate remedial action. To prevent side effects, consult with a medical professional prior to use.
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