Sense of smell is a very powerful thing. Over history, senses were used to make us more relaxed, to improve our mood, health, and even sleep. The logic behind this is rather simple, as every sense goes directly into our brains.
Smell enters our nostrils and up the olfactory nerve onto the surface of our brain. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that certain smells can have an impact on our behavior and mood.
And that’s what aromatherapy is all about. Different aromatherapy effects can be used to improve your sleep, and even more, to help you fight insomnia.
Can Aromatherapy Help You Sleep?
Aromatherapy is an alternative medicine practice that can tap into the healing power of scents from essential oils. By doing so, it can balance your body, mind, and spirit. Therefore, aromatherapy can help you with your sleep. How aromatherapy actually does it?
Research showed that certain essential oils can promote relaxation, and in turn promote sounder sleep.
How Scents Affect The Body And Mind?
You have probably had the chance to experience Déjà vu moment when you smell something that can easily rewake childhood memory, or even more specific – the moment when your grandmother used to make your favorite milk drink. Simply said, scents are extremely powerful.
Basically, our sense of smell is directly linked with the brain’s centers of emotion and memory.
Every smell around us is picked up by our cells inside the nose. Once they ‘catch’ them, they are sent to the brain, via the olfactory nerve.
From there, the information about smell goes immediately to the limbic system of the brain, which includes regions like the amygdala . Amygdala is responsible for controlling emotional reactions and memory.
The smell is unique among our senses. All the information that we take from our other senses travel first to another region of the brain – the thalamus, to be specific.
At this point, the thalamus acts as a relay station, passing along sensory data to the other significant parts of the brain, that produce out sensory perceptions.
From there, only smell moves to the brain’s memory and emotion center. The main reason why you get those sudden flashbacks of memory is that smell comes so quickly and strongly.
The Ancient Practice Of Aromatherapy
As near as we can tell, the plant kingdom has provided powerful and extremely rare extracts and essences that have been prized for their rich features, especially in the field of spiritual and physical well-being, beauty care, and even culinary uses.
Moreover, during the years aromatic plants have been the basis for both, botanical and herbal medicines and remedies.
Fast fact: Aromatic plants are the root of today’s pharmaceuticals.
So, the use of essential oils for medicinal purposes has an ancient history, going back to early Egyptian, Chinese, and Roman societies. Even famous Hippocrates studied the effects of essential oils.
Nowadays, it’s common, especially in Europe, that doctors prescribe an alternative choice of medicine, like aromatherapy. Furthermore, thanks to its power to relax mind and body, aromatherapy is more connected with sleep than ever before.
The Scientific Benefits Of Essential Oil For Sleep
Using natural and mind-body therapies can only help you have better sleep, and overall better life quality. The practice of aromatherapy can help you create better sleep, relieve stress, low mood, anxiety, and even help you with physical discomfort.
Essential oils have been used for centuries in order to promote mental relaxation and physical wellness.
Today, scientist are using the same oil to understand how you can benefit more from them and, furthermore, how you could have a better sleep. After all, having a better sleep means that you are having a better life.
So, long story short, recent research shows us that essential oil can provide relief for disrupted sleep and overall improve sleep quality.
Moreover, a 2017 study compared the effects of aromatherapy and acupressure massage on sleep quality of life in women. And they found that a blend of sleep-promoting essential oils worked. In addition, it worked so much that it improved both sleep quality and quality of life.
To sum up, aromatherapy was more effective than acupressure. In addition, the blended oil was more effective at improving sleep than a single essential oil, like, for example, lavender.
7 Essential Oils To Help You Sleep Better
If you are looking for a natural remedy to help you with your sleep and drift off, then the calming and overall relaxing aromas of essential oils could be the solution.
However, you should bear in mind that not every essential oil is for everything, as some may help you with anxiety, others may help with your sleep, skin, overall health and so on.
So, what are the best essential oils for your sleep?
1. Lavender Oil For Sleep
Lavender is probably the most popular essential oil ever. It is good for skin, relaxation, and sleep. Moreover, it’s the number one oil when you are asking for aromatherapy to help you sleep.
In general, the lavender smell is associated with sleep and relaxation and it has been used as a natural remedy for centuries. Its also known as the great solution for anxiety.
There are even some claims that proper use and dosage of lavender can ease someone pain. Overall, thanks to its sedative effect its perfect for sleep, and with from regular use of this oil you can expect:
- Improved sleep quality
- Longer hours of sleep
- Daytime alertness
Moreover, you can expect to fall asleep much quicker, and strong calming effect. In addition, your heart rate will decrease as well as your blood pressure. It can also make you feel more energetic in the morning.
Also, lavender is extremely long-lasting oil, and it’s one of the few essential oils that you can apply directly to your skin. It is even suitable for children.
Do It Yourself: Put a few drops of lavender oil to your pillow for a peaceful night.
2. Vanilla Oil For Sleep
Vanilla has a long history of use, as stress relief and in terms of relaxation. It even has a sedative effect on the body and therefore it’s appealing to many people. Overall, vanilla can reduce restlessness and hyperactivity, lower the blood pressure, and even quiet the nervous system.
Moreover, if you are feeling stressed or anxious, use vanilla-based products before you hit the bed, especially if you are going to bed when you are not tired.
Do It Yourself: Inhale 3 to 5 drops of vanilla oil before you hit the bed. Also, you can put between 5 and 10 drops to a warm bath for additional relaxation.
3. Jasmine Oil For Sleep
With its floral scent, jasmine presents as a serious sleep-promoting plant. Moreover, jasmine improves sleep quality and cuts down on restless sleeping. In addition, jasmine can increase daytime alertness. Furthermore, jasmine lowers anxiety.
Interestingly, jasmine is more effective than lavender when it comes to lowering anxiety. Moreover, Jasmine is so powerful that it can be as effective as Valium when it comes to calming down.
Do It Yourself: Place jasmine around the house to promote restful sleep.
4. Rose Oil For Sleep
Rose has a long history of being a stress reliever. Moreover, it’s known for being able to significantly reduce anxiety. This plant is great because it combines perfectly with any other plant, as well as on their own. Rose is also great for the skin.
You can apply it directly to the skin when you want to hydrate it, minimize the appearance of scars, reduce signs of aging, clear acne, and even help with conditions like rosacea and eczema. Furthermore, it can be used by teenagers both for their troubled skin and sleep deprivation.
Do It Yourself: Place 2 drops of rose oil into your neck, scalp, and shoulders.
5. Sandalwood Oil For Sleep
This is an oil with a true earthy scent. Also, sandalwood has an ancient history of use for relaxation and relief when it comes to anxiety. Also, sandalwood has strong sedative effects, and it can increase non-REM sleep, and reduce wakefulness.
Sandalwood can be described as exotic and mysterious with its earthy vibe. After all, it is made out of the Santalum tree. For thousands of years, this tree was used to cure insomnia, relieve stress, and even boost the libido.
Moreover, it’s extremely effective for those who can fall asleep but are often disturbed by wakening through the night.
Do It Yourself: Add sandalwood oil to a home diffuser minimum 30 minutes before you go to sleep and simply inhale.
6. Citrus Oil For Sleep
This is a rather unique group of scents that can be extremely stimulating when it comes better sleep and high sleep-quality. Moreover, these scents are known for lowering heart rate and preparing the body for sleep.
In addition, there are no strict rules when it comes to the perfect citrus fruit, they are all GREAT for being transformed into oil. Interestingly, this fruit group can even make you happier.
Limes and oranges directly boost serotonin, a hormone that’s responsible for happiness. The best option for your whole body is to use citrus fruit during the day, and not before your sleep, as they serve as a great freshener of the body.
Do It Yourself: Mix 2-3 drops of lemon oil to a pre-bedtime tea for a longer sleep.
7. Ylang Ylang Oil For Sleep
Ylang Ylang is known as Cananga odorata. Originally, it’s from India and it’s considered to be one of the most powerful plants when it comes to essential oil production. Even more, it serves as a great stress reliever and makes you feel less anxious, as well. Altogether, it can make it easier to drift off to sleep.
Do It Yourself: Add just 2 drops to your bath and soak yourself form not more than 10 minutes. Mind your breathing during these minutes.
Basically, you can’t go wrong with any oil choice. However, you should bear in mind that there are some oils that can make the opposite effect and keep you awake all night. That being said, you should just avoid them if you want better sleep.
Important: If you are allergic to any fruit or plant that’s on this list, do not use that essential oil. In addition, always consult your doctor for proper essential oil guide usage.
Oils To Avoid Before Your Sleep
Although every essential oil is great and in general they don’t do any harm, there are some rules or oils that you should avoid right before you go to sleep.
- Avoid stimulating oils – some oils are just too stimulating, including lemon, peppermint, and entire citrus fruit group. These oils should be used during the day when you need an energy boost. In addition, you should use more relaxing oils before your sleep, like lavender.
- Vetiver – this oil is known for increasing total waking time and reducing slow wave sleep time.
- Petitgrain – this oil is great to use when you have to work a lot, or when you have to study all night. Therefore, its natural solution for higher academic performance that college students should opt for.
- Sage – another oil that’s great for boosting cognitive functions and increasing alertness. If you are planning a power nap, you should still avoid this oil.
- Sandalwood oil – recent study showed that this oil can elevate blood pressure and pulse.
Can Aromatherapy Help You Sleep – Key Takeaways
The great thing about essential oils is that you can use them in many different ways. You can apply them directly to your skin, use as an addition to your bath, or simply tap a drop or two on your shoulder or your neck.
Furthermore, the great thing about using oils as well is that you can track how you feel and to see how your body reacts to it.
After all, the scent is a highly individual experience, and each one of us reacts differently to smells.
Long story short, the right scent for your sleep and your relaxation is the ones that can actually make you feel sleepy and relaxed! It’s completely fine to experiment with different oils until you find your perfect smell.
Basically, if a scent makes you feel awake and alert than that oil is NOT right for you. But, you can use that oil in the morning to help you get up energized. So, every oil has its own purpose, you just have to find which one meets yours.