7 Essential Oils To Sleep Better Than Ever
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my restless weeks in college and my stressful weeks at work, it’s that not being able to sleep sucks…
There is no doubt that sleep is one of the most essential human body functions. How well we sleep has a direct correlation with our quality of life. Why is it then, that lack of sleep has become an official epidemic in the U.S. with around 60 million people facing sleep disorders or problems of some sort?
Though I may not be able to answer that question at this point, I do have solutions to improve your sleep quality and fight symptoms of insomnia that are so common for many people.
During some of my most exhausting nights in college, I discovered essential oils as a way to get better sleep and make it through the semester without feeling like a zombie all the time. My hope was that these essential oils would help me fight some of the symptoms of insomnia that I used to face rather regularly.
Essential oils are concentrated solutions of nutrients found in different parts of a plant. They are volatile compounds, meaning that they slowly evaporate and diffuse through the air. The molecules that evaporate are inhaled and produce a healing effect for the body.
Though I was skeptical at first, after using them for a few days I started noticing a difference in my sleep quality. I noticed I would fall asleep faster and feel more relaxed every time I went to bed. I used a diffuser, meaning that my room would always smell great too.
I won’t lie and say using these essential oils fixed all of my sleep issues. I suffer from sleep apnea, which involves airway blockages while sleeping and generally requires more drastic forms of treatment. However, I can certainly say that using essential oils has improved my sleep quality and helped me overcome some of the symptoms of insomnia I was facing at the time.
The following are some of the best essential oils that I’ve used to improve my sleep (I actually still use some of these regularly). I’ll also provide a few different ways to apply these essential oils below.
Properties: antidepressant, astringent, mild sedative
Stress is arguably the biggest obstacle to getting quality sleep. Insomnia, the worlds most common sleep disorder, is often
caused by visible and invisible sources of stress in people’s life. Laying in bed, thinking through all your worries and problems that need to get resolved can easily turn into an hour long (or more) ordeal.
The calming and mild sedative properties of orange essential oils can really help you clear your mind before going to bed. Part of its wonder is that it can help relax your muscular and nervous system, thus allowing you to fall asleep faster.
Orange essential oils calming abilities as a mild sedative can help you clear your mind before going to bed. Some of its components relax muscular and nervous systems, thus producing a soothing effect on your sleep.
The stress reducing abilities of orange essential oils have been studied before. In a study from Advanced Biomedical Research, researchers evaluated the anxiety-reducing effects of orange essential oil aromatherapy on children 6 to 9 years old. The researchers identified that orange essential oil aromatherapy reduced signs of stress and anxiety in the children.
Also, note that although orange essential oil comes from orange peels, it’s extremely concentrated and not safe to consume. Generally, that’s also the case with most essential oils out there.
Properties: analgesic, antidepressant, antimicrobial, soothing, calming, anti-inflammatory
Lavender is one of the most powerful and popular essential oils around. In my opinion, it’s easily also one of the best essential oil scents on the list; though I will say I’ve grown up with the smell of lavender in the house and so I may be partial to the scent.
It’s often used to calm down the nerves and combat anxiety, fear, and panic. Not to mention, it’s often treated as the gold standard of natural remedies for insomnia and problems falling asleep.
Lavender’s effect on sleep has been scientifically studied as well. One such study on lavender involved administering lavender aromatherapy to 34 middle-aged women twice a week for 12 total weeks. The control group of 33 women only received tips on sleep hygiene rather than receiving aromatherapy. The researchers found that the women treated with aromatherapy experienced sleep quality improvements and lower heart rate variability compared to those that didn’t.
As if that didn’t sound good enough, lavender is also a great option to relieve snoring and even sleep apnea. Being an anti-inflammatory, it can help clear the airways and prevent snoring if used at bedtime. Check out this infographic to see how lavender and other home remedies can help treat sleep apnea and snoring.
Properties: sedative, soothing, aphrodisiac, astringent, antiseptic
Sandalwood is a special type of wood with the ability to retain its aroma for decades. It’s very popular in the Hindu and other religions and tends to be used for religious ceremonies. Due to the rapid harvesting of the sandalwood, it’s currently the second most expensive wood in the world.
This essential oil has a unique wooden scent that helps calm the nerves before sleeping. Its aroma helps soothe body aches and spasms that might be hurting your ability to get good sleep.
Sandalwood is a popular essential oil and is commonly used in combination with other fragrances in the perfume and cosmetic industry. It has a chemical property that allows it to increase the duration of other fragrant oils in a mixture. One of my personal favorite sandalwood mixes is sandalwood with a bit of lavender combined into a diffuser at night.
Properties: deodorant, sedative, tonic, antidepressant
Patchouli is a very popular essential oil in oriental regions like China, Malaysia, and Indonesia. It has one of the more unique scents out of all of the essential oils in this list. To me, it has a sort of earthy smell.
It has sedative effects similar to lavender and can also be used to relieve symptoms of insomnia. Additionally, if allergies or sinuses contribute to keeping you up at night, patchouli essential oil can help strengthen the immune system and fight these off.
Patchouli essential oil also works by calming down your nervous system and helping you restore your natural nervous body functions. Oftentimes, our nervous system is on edge and constantly reminding us of problems and responsibilities. Patchouli is a great option to pacify these thoughts.
Aside from its ability to improve sleep, it is sometimes used to relieve various skin related issues such as dermatitis and dry skin. That being said, just like any other essential oil patchouli essential oil should be considerably diluted before being applied to the skin.
Patchouli essential oil can be blended with lavender for a pleasant aroma that’ll help you sleep better. I do suggest starting off bit by bit with patchouli because its peculiar smell can be bothersome for some.
Properties: antidepressant, pain reliever, sedative
Bergamot essential oil comes from a fruit that’s very much like a mix between an orange and a lemon. It grows in Mediterranean climates, and so it’s generally very popular in such places.
Bargamot essential oil has been used extensively as an anti- depressant because of its slight euphoria inducing abilities. This is because it stimulates serotonin production, which is the hormone responsible for feelings of happiness and euphoria.
Using bergamot essential oil before going to sleep can help you de-stress and cleanse your mind of any thoughts that may be preventing you from falling asleep. This way, you focus on sleeping and only sleeping.
As a sedative, bergamot helps relieve headaches and migraines which are commonly present in patients with insomnia. As a sedative, it can help numb some of the nerves in your body, thus allowing you to enter into slumber more comfortably and easily.
Bergamot, like oranges and lemons, has a pleasant citrus scent. Mixing it with Sandalwood makes for a mix of essential oils that will help you sleep much better.
Properties: disinfectant, sedative, tonic, relaxant, stress reliever
Frankincense is believed to be one of the 3 gifts that the 3 wise men gave to the baby Jesus when he was born. It has been used extensively in religious rituals in Christianity. If you’ve ever gone to catholic mass and passed by the altar, you may have caught a scent of the distinct aroma of frankincense.
Aside from being a popular scent in christian religions, frankincense has some powerful health benefits and is commonly used throughout Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean.
A little bit of frankincense essential oil at night can help you fall asleep quicker. It’s commonly used to create places of meditation because of its ability to clear up the mind and promote control of ones own thoughts.
The scent of frankincense goes well with the scent of citrus essential oils such as orange or bergamot.
Properties: euphoric, aphrodisiac, sedative, antibacterial
Clary sage comes from a flower very similar in look and color to lavender. Just like lavender, it’s often used to help fight symptoms of depression and poor sleep.
This essential oil’s anti-anxiety abilities helps you fall into deep sleep more easily. It can also relieve backaches and other body pains, thus preventing any physical pain from distracting your sleep. It also helps with fighting menstrual pains and calming down some of its associated symptoms.
Interestingly, you may already be using clary sage on a regular basis without knowing it. Chemicals from clary sage, such as linalyl acetate, are sometimes added to shampoo and conditioner to improve hair health.
What are the best ways to use essential oils?
The effectiveness of the essential oil often depends on how it’s applied. Also, keep in mind that the effectiveness of an application method varies depending on each person. These are some of my favorite ways of applying essential oils:
IMPORTANT: Do not consume essential oils. Essential oils are extremely concentrated, and as you have likely heard, too much of anything can kill you. In addition, you never know what other non-volatile chemicals and preservatives are in a vial.
1. The classic way to use essential oils is by placing a few drops of the oil in a diffuser and allowing it to run throughout the night. As the aroma diffuses throughout the room, you will begin to reap the benefits from the oil. This is my favorite method of using essential oils.
2. You can also apply a few drops of the oil into a handkerchief and place the handkerchief under your pillow at night. The scent will eventually travel and diffuse throughout the room.
3. You can also apply essential oils by placing slightly steamy hot water in a big bowl. Add a few drops of your essential oil, and place a warm towel over the back of your head. Then, move your face close to the hot water and breathe in the aroma of the oil, slowly and deeply.
Make sure you close your eyes when doing this, otherwise you may experience eye redness or irritation.
1. Another common way to apply essential oils is by mixing them with a carrier oil, such as coconut or sweet almond oil, in a small vial. You may then apply the mix topically on your skin.
I’ve mixed a bit of lavender in coconut oil in the past and applied it over the chest to help me sleep better. Some of the most popular carrier oils are coconut, avocado, sweet almond, and olive oil.
As a rule of thumb, you want to make sure that you don’t have more than 5% essential oil in your mixture. The reason comes back to the fact that essential oils are very concentrated. If applied in greater than 5% concentrations to the skin they may cause irritation and rashes.
2. You can also prepare a massage blend by creating a mixture of less than 1% essential oil with the rest being carrier oil. This blend can then be used as a massage mixture to be applied to areas of the body that need soothing.
Essential oils are a great way to treat sleep issues naturally. If you have any suggestions for other essential oils that have worked for you or experiences with any of the aforementioned oils, please leave a comment below!