Essential oils for sleep just might be the key to a better rested body and mind – and to overall greater health.
When we sleep, our minds and bodies rest and regenerate. But all too many of us have difficulty sleeping, whether we suffer from restless sleep, stress and anxiety that prevents us from getting into sleep mode, night terrors or sleep apnea. Luckily, we are not powerless to change and improve the quality of our sleep.
Essential oils, in and of themselves, are not a cure for every sleep problem you might be facing, and some sleep conditions might require the help and advice of a medical professional. Nevertheless, essential oils is one of the first complementary therapies you should reach for when the aim is improved sleep quality.
Keep in mind that the following article is not intended to provide medical advice, but rather to show you how you can use certain essential oils to alleviate sleep problems and reliably get at good night’s sleep.
So how can essential oils help you sleep better? Keep reading to find out.
Do essential oils really work for sleep?
Medical associations have been studying the effects of essential oils in clinical practice for years. The evidence based outcomes of these studies are widely available to read on the internet, but in short, essential oils have been shown to reduce anxiety and stress, to soothe the nervous system and support and stabilise vital signs. Essential oils are still considered alternative medicine, but they are slowly winning acceptance in mainstream Western medicine.
While there is no one essential oil that can guarantee that you sleep through the night, a few drops of the right oil or oils before you go to bed can promote relaxation, lower anxiety and restlessness, and help you clear your mind – all vital elements of a restful sleep.
Essential oils have soothing effects on body and mind
Different oils can help calm anxiety and clear stress from both mind and body. Being able to calm down your limbic system is crucial when you want to ensure you get a solid night’s sleep.
Most sleep issues stem from an inability to relax, whether physically or mentally. Particular essential oils, including lavender, work as a natural sedative. Other essential oils help by relieving stress and reducing the corrosive effects of anxiety.
Essential oils might help lower heart rate and blood pressure
While essential oils cannot reach in and directly affect your vital signs, they can nevertheless have the same effect in an indirect way.
Essential oils don’t directly affect things like your heart rate, but their soothing effects can help your mind and body to relax and let go of stress and tension – which in turn lowers your heart rate, decreases bad cholesterol and promotes stable vitals overall. When the body’s various processes are are calm and stable, the body is better equipped to heal and restore itself, and so essential oils may, in this indirect way, have a positive influence on more severe sleep issues that are incredibly disruptive, such as sleep apnea or recurring night terrors.
How to use essential oils for sleep
There are numerous ways of using essential oils for sleep. The best place to use them is in your bedroom, just before going to sleep. Using the essential oil only when you intend to fall asleep will help ensure that you subconsciously come to associate say, lavender oil, with relaxation and sleep. The psychological association is going to support the essential oil’s naturally sedative effect.
Direct application on skin is the most straight-forward way of using essential oils. Make sure you only use a few drops, as copious amounts are more likely to produce skin irritation than to improve sleep. A better way is often to apply a small amount of your chosen oil to the underside of your pillow, or to sprinkle a couple of drops onto your sheets, as this ensures you still get the full effect of the oil while avoiding a potential rash. Particularly if you use essential oils often, you should not lather it on your skin as you could develop an allergic reaction.
A few drops of your favourite essential oil added to a warm bath before bedtime is another great way of absorbing the calming effects of the oil into your skin.
Another wonderful way of using the essential oils of your choice in your bedroom is to keep a diffuser on your bedside table. An essential oil diffuser slowly atomizes and releases the essential oil you have poured in it, ensuring that it is released into the air slowly and steadily. Undiluted essential oils can also be used in a manual oil burner – just make sure to blow out the candle before drifting off to sleep.
Adding a very sparing amount of oil to your cup of evening chamomile tea allows you to really drink in the effects of your favourite essential oils. Keep in mind, some oils work better with some herbal teas than others, and some may not be suitable for ingestion at all.
Yet another way of absorbing essential oils and their positive effects is by breathing them in. Simply add a few drops of your chosen oil to a cup of boiling hot water and inhale the rising smoke.
The best essential oils for sleep
Many essential oils can potentially help improve your sleep quality, in different ways. But which ones do what, and how many do you need? To answer these and other questions, here is a rundown of the very best essential oils for sleep.
Lavender essential oil
If you are only going to use one oil for sleep, use lavender. Its properties are by far the most universal and comprehensive when it comes to improving sleep.
Lavender essential oil is your best choice if you are feeling restless at bedtime and have trouble falling asleep – lavender is your one-stop shop for alleviating insomnia.
Physically, lavender is known to lower heart rate, blood pressure and temperature, and mentally, lavender is known to promote relaxation and reduce anxiety that might otherwise be keeping you awake.
Eucalyptus essential oil
Eucalyptus oil, just like peppermint, combines a clean and uplifting scent with both mental and physical clearing properties.
Eucalyptus is known to alleviate indigestion, clear sinuses, dispel headaches and relax the mind.
Ylan ylang essential oil
Ylang ylang oil is known to soothe, stabilize and support the body’s natural rhythms and functions in a way that naturally prepares it for rest and rejuvenation.
Ylang ylang oil has a fresh and soothing scent similar to that of citrus fruits.
Chamomile essential oil
Chamomile oil has a soft and ethereal flowery aroma, which in itself is incredibly calming. nothing works better than chamomile oil when it comes to fending off anxiety and unrest. If you want to fully absorb and harvest the benefits of chamomile oil, combine it with a cup of chamomile tea just before bedtime.
Peppermint essential oil
Peppermint oil is not a traditional sleep aid. Nevertheless its effects make it uniquely suitable as one.
The fresh and clean scent of peppermint immediately banishes anxiety, stress and mental clutter from your consciousness. This is essential if you have a tendency to overthink or simply find it difficult to turn off your mind wen you are trying to fall asleep.
Physically, peppermint also has clearing and banishing effect. If you suffer from seasonal allergies, blocked sinuses or dust sensitivity, peppermint helps clear that right up.
Sandalwood essential oil
Sandalwood oil is one of the most potent you can hope to get your hands on when it comes to promoting a deep and restful sleep. Its enchanting woody scent is immediately soothing, and it is known to stabilise mood and emotions. When you are feeling restless and ill at ease, sandalwood can help you rebalance and come back into yourself.
Sandalwood also has a mental component and is helpful in dissolving negative, destructive or merely stressful thought patterns.
Cedarwood essential oil
Cedarwood oil shares some of the same effects as sandalwood, but is somewhat less potent – however, it is also more affordable. Cedarwood has a woody, comforting scent.
To harvest the full benefits of cedarwood, add a couple of drops to a cup of herbal tea before bedtime, or add directly to your skin where you can absorb it.
Clary sage essential oil
Clary sage oil is your go-to if you are prone to nightmares, night terrors or simply to stay awake while dark thoughts tumble through your mind.
Regular sage has a banishing effect when it comes to dark moods and energies, and in clary sage, these effects are heightened. Clary sage oil helps you slip into the kind of deep, slow wave sleep you need in order for both your mind and your body to get the rest they need.
Valerian essential oil
Valerian oil is known for its soothing and calming effects on both body and mind, which is why valerian is often used as a prominent ingredient in sleep remedies.
Imbibing or inhaling valerian oil, or taking a bath in valerian-infused bath water is guaranteed to result in reduced anxiety and a greater sense of calm and restfulness.
Sweet almond essential oil
Sweet almond oil is not only high in vitamin E and other nutrients that are beneficial for your hair and skin, it also has a warming and reassuring scent that might help your relax and inspires a deep, restful and restorative sleep.
Vetiver essential oil
Vetiver oil has a pungent, earthy scent that not everyone might enjoy – however, this is offset by its powerful and potent effects.
Vetiver is known for its incredible ability to relieve anxiety and for its almost sedative effect. If you are suffering from restless sleeping, the kind where you either cannot find enough mental peace to fall asleep, or where you keep waking up, vetiver is guaranteed to bring you better sleep.
Bergamot essential oil
Bergamot oil is one of the most versatile and, just like lavender, should be a staple in any essential oil aficionado’s collection.
Bergamot oil comes with similar effects and benefits to both lavender and ylang ylang, but as an added bonus, bergamot is known to banish and dispel stressful and negative thoughts, which are otherwise prone to wreak havoc on your sleep.
Marjoram essential oil
Majoram oil has a sweet, uplifting and rather flower-like scent. Not only does marjoram oil help you fall asleep, it helps you stay asleep throughout the night. When selecting a marjoram oil, pick the one with the sweetest scent, as it is likely to be the most potent.
Marjoram is known to aid the rest and regeneration of both body and mind.
Grapefruit essential oil
Waking up is an often overlooked part of a good night’s sleep, but the truth is that how we start the day is just as important as how we end it.
If you are one of the many people who struggle with early morning awakening, grapefruit oil might be your answer. Grapefruit oil is renowned for increasing both mental and physical energy, boosting mood and encouraging a positive outlook. What’s more, its uplifting and refreshing citrus scent is guaranteed to bring you out of your drowsy state.