Sleep is something that all of us need but not all of us value. There are far too many people that treat sleep as a hindrance, something that has to be done but is not done willingly. While this is fine and well for some of us, the rest of us need that sleep to recharge and rest our bodies.
Unfortunately, getting to sleep and getting a good quality night full of it is not as easy as it sounds. That is why a great many of us need help in getting to sleep and staying that way. This can be achieved in a number of different ways, but more and more people are making use of essential oils to achieve this.
This is because a variety of scents can not only provide a relaxing smell, they can promote restfulness, relief of anxiety, and promote deeper sleep. Not only that, some essential oils can help to provide a more relaxed mood and can deliver deeper sleep.
Essential oils are an inexpensive and easy way that you can introduce yourself to a daily and nightly routine, things that will help you relax both mentally and physically, so that it is easier for you to fall asleep at night and sleep far more soundly than ever before.
The problem is that there are so many different essential oils on the market that it can be easy to get lost. Not knowing what each one is and how it might benefit you can leave you feeling as though you are stuck at step one. But there are a few that distinctively stand out from the rest and are worth bringing into your home.
How these scents can affect your mind and body
There is little doubt that you have already experienced a smell that has instantly evoked a strong feeling or memory. That scent can become reminiscent of a time long gone but will bring back delightful memories for a long time to come. This is because our sense of smell is wired directly into the brain’s centers of emotion and memory.
There are cells inside the nose that detect smells in our environment. These cells then send information to the brain via what is known as the olfactory nerve. The information about that smell then goes right to the limbic system of the brain; this includes regions like the amygdales which control our emotional reactions as well as our memory.
This is what makes smell so unique among our sense. That information that we take from other senses travels to the thalamus – which acts as a relay station – which then passes along sensory data to the other parts of your brain that are in charge of sensory perceptions. For this reason, memories you associate with a scent can come on so quickly and so strongly.
The various benefits of essential oils for mood, sleep, and health
There is a movement that is gaining traction these days that believes in the use of natural therapies that can aid both the body and the mind. These therapies can create better overall sleep by helping sleep directly and by relieving those nagging anxious feelings as well as stress, bringing your mood up, and treating physical discomfort.
Aromatherapy can provide holistic healing in order to treat all of those things. Essential oils have been in practice for centuries for those reasons and continue to promote mental and physical wellness as well as relaxation. These same oils are being increasingly studied today for a better understanding of their overall benefits to health and sleep.
There are several bodies of research that have shown that essential oils can provide improved sleep quality and relief for disrupted sleeps in adults. It was found that by blending sleep-promoting essential oils, they work quite effectively to improve both the quality of life and quality of sleep, more so than acupressure. Not only that, these blended oils were more effective at improving sleep than a single essential oil such as lavender.
When it comes to stress and anxiety, these are frequent obstacles to restful, sound sleep that we need to recharge and relax. People who frequently experience anxiety and stress symptoms have difficulty not only falling asleep but sleeping restfully throughout the night. This leaves them fatigued and tired the next day.
By implementing essential oils and aromatherapy, you can help relieve those anxiety and stress symptoms that can be such a drain on your sleep. Indirectly, you can help to improve your sleep by treating those symptoms directly.
When it comes to depression, we are learning more about it than ever before but still don’t know quite enough. It turns out that sleep problems and depression generally go hand in hand and a number of studies have taken a deep look at the effect that aromatherapy using essential oils has on those with depression and depressive symptoms. They also looked at those people who both did and did not have anxiety.
Aromatherapy has been shown to be able to improve depressive symptoms and it found that there was an improvement in both anxiety and depression in post-partum women. Being able to ease that depression and anxiety makes it easier to get to sleep at night and to stay asleep for longer and more deeply.
Vanilla has a sweet scent that is appealing to most people. Not only that, it has an extensive history of being used for stress relief and relaxation. Vanilla has been shown to have sedative effects on the body and can even reduce restlessness and hyperactivity. This is in addition to being able to lower blood pressure and quieting the nervous system.
You might think that’s all it does, but it appears to have helpful benefits for treating depression and anxiety; it also can uplift a mood and provide relaxation. Vanilla is a great scent to try for sleeping as it smells like cookies baking and it doesn’t have the calories that are so bad for us.
Easily one of the most popular essential oils on the market today, this oil is most commonly used for calming and sleep methods. Those looking to try aromatherapy for sleep generally get started using lavender. This is because it is a soothing scent that has long had an association with sleep and relaxation and has also been associated as a remedy for anxiety.
Not only that, lavender is one of the most rigorously studied essential oils that there is. A huge array of research has shown that lavender helps to reduce anxiety as well as provide beneficial effects towards depression. It can also be used to help pain relief.
Lavender also has sedative effects, which is a natural sleep aid for those who have difficult falling asleep and staying that way. It can improve sleep quality, increase amounts of sleep, and even elevate daytime alertness; this includes in people with insomnia.
Jasmine has a sweeter floral scent to it and it has been shown to have serious sleep-promoting capabilities. There has been research that has shown that jasmine improves overall sleep quality and it helps to cut down on restless sleeping. Not only that, it helps to increase daytime alertness, keeping you up and moving throughout even the toughest of days.
Like some of the others on this list, Jasmine has been shown to help lower anxiety as well, perhaps even more so than lavender does.
Rose and Geranium
As is the case with some of the most effective essential oils, these two oils have a floral scent to them and a similar one at that. Both have been shown to reduce anxiety and stress, both on their own or used in combination with a variety of other essential oils.
There are even some sleep experts that have recommended valerian as an essential oil when it comes to sleep aromatherapy. Valerian is taken as a supplement that can be very beneficial for sleep, both in terms of falling asleep and staying so for longer periods.
The only downside to using valerian is that it is quite stinky to smell. Using rose and geranium give you the same qualities but will smell slightly better overall than using that pungent smell.
This is a group of scents that can be used to promote sleep as well as stimulate it; this depends on your individual reaction to the different type of citrus oil that is used. There is bergamot, a type of orange, that has shown traits of relieving anxiety as well as improving sleep quality.
Lemon oil has proven depression and anxiety-relieving effects that can help those who use them fall asleep more easily. Others, meanwhile, will find the scents both fresh and bright which promotes relaxation, though not of the sleep variety.
If you find that citrus oils are more potent and stimulating for you, you might not want to use them before bed. Try using them during the day to help keep yourself relaxed and refreshed for your day.
Sandalwood has a woody, rich, and earthy scent to it. It also has an ancient history of anxiety relief and relaxation as well. Sandalwood can help ease anxiety symptoms and it even has sedative effects to it; this reduces wakefulness and increases the amount of non-REM sleep.
There is one important thing to note: even while promoting physical relaxation, it promotes alertness. So while Sandalwood might promote sleep benefits for some people, it can promote a wakeful attentiveness for others. Use it sparingly to find out which fits you best before using it at the wrong times of the day.
How to use essential oils
One of the benefits of using essential oils to promote sleep and relaxation is that you can implement them into your life in a number of different ways. There is no one specific way, so you can find the way you like best and make that apart of your routine.
Use a diffuser
This is perhaps the most common way of using essential oils. The diffuser turns the oils into a steam or mist and sprays it throughout the room. This allows you to experience the scents of your favorite essential oil throughout the day while also getting all of the benefits that each oil provides.
Add it to your bath
This is a favorite way of many to use their favorite essential oils. You can add a few drops to a warm bath and feel the relaxation and sleep benefits that the aromatherapy can provide to you all while getting a warm, comfortable soak.
Make certain to schedule your soak time for around 60-90 minutes prior to bed and you should find yourself drifting off to sleep far more quickly than ever before. Not only that, you will stay asleep for longer and find yourself waking more relaxed than ever before.
This might seem sort of confusing, but the first thing that you need to know is to never apply an essential oil to the skin directly. This is because essential oils in undiluted form are very intense and highly concentrated. This can lead to heavy skin irritation if used incorrectly.
If you do plan to apply it topically, make sure that you are using oils with carrier oils for skin that are already heavily diluted in another oil like vegetable oil. This can help to give you the benefits of a light self-massage while carrying with you the wonderful scents of the essential oils all day long.
Make your own mist
When you feel comfortable enough to do so, you can apply your favorite essential oils with water into a spray bottle or something known as an atomizer and then spray it around the room or even a light mist to your linens.
When you do this, you get the experience of those wonderful aromas and scents that can be so soothing and relaxing without having to breath in the steam or rub the oils on yourself. This is a great way to keep a faint scent of essential oils around you without them being overwhelming.