What is aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy, sometimes referred to as essential oil therapy, is a holistic healing treatment that uses natural plant extracts to enhance physical and emotional health. As our sense of smell is very powerful and impacts our mood and hormone balance, essential oils and their properties can influence our wellbeing and health. Whether you struggle to fall asleep, wake up during the night or simply just enjoy relaxing, essential oils can be used to help us reach our improvement goals.
Can essential oils help me sleep?
You can establish a bedtime routine through using essential oils. Your brain associates certain fragrances with relaxation or sleep. In the mucosa of your nasal cavity, your olfactory nerve receptors are responsible for communicating sensory data to the brain. When you smell certain scents, these receptors send calming signals to your brain which can help you get restful sleep.
Despite this, it is worth noting that many essential oils are adaptogens, meaning different people may experience a different effect. Whereas one scent may have a calming effect on some, others may be stimulated by the same smell. This is why I’ve looked into nine essential oils for you to try out for a few days and see how your body responds. Have a read through the list and pick a scent which feels calming and suitable for your needs.
There are many ways to use essential oils to reap the benefits, you could try popping 2-3 drops in a diffuser, on your pillow, in your bedtime bath or diluting them with water and treating yourself to a pressure point massage.
The floral scent of Lavender is one of the most popular essential oils used for relaxation and as a sleep aid. Research has revealed that lavender oil can help you fall asleep and improve your overall quality of rest. The calming qualities of Lavender do this by calming an active mind at bedtime, slowing your nervous system down, decreasing your heart rate and lowering your blood pressure, sending you into a deep sleep.
Others benefits of Lavender oil include: Relieving headaches, migraines and anxiety.
The sweet floral scent of Jasmine contains sleep-promoting compounds. Research shows that Jasmine oil can help you feel less anxious and reduce tossing, turning and restless sleep. Additionally, when you wake up from a deep sleep, it can make you feel more refreshed and increase daytime alertness. Try placing Jasmine potpourri around your house to promote restful sleep at bedtime.
Other benefits of Jasmine oil include: Reducing stress, fatigue and menstrual cramps.
The citrus aroma of lemon is believed to lower your heart rate within 10 minutes, allowing you to unwind, relax and fall asleep. Research has also revealed anxiety and depression relieving qualities. You could try adding 2-3 drops to a pre-bedtime drink for better sleep. Although citrus scents may help some people fall asleep, others may find the scent fresh and relaxing but not sleep-promoting. If you find lemon oil activates your brain, do not use it before bed. Instead you could use it throughout the day to promote relaxation.
Other benefits of Lemon oil include: Improving your mood and aiding your breathing.
The floral rose-like scent of Geranium is believed to reduce your stress rates and provide a sedative effect. This scent may be helpful for anyone waking up during the night, as it may encourage the body to drift back into sleep easier. You could try massaging 2-3 diluted drops on your neck, back or shoulders to reap the benefits.
Other benefits of Geranium oil include: Repelling insects, pain management and a natural antidepressant.
The rich floral and tropical scent of Ylang Ylang can help alleviate stress and anxiety, acting as a sleep aid. Research has shown that Yalng Ylang can help lower blood pressure, pulse rate and stress index reducing your autonomic nervous systems response and helping you sleep. Try diluting this scent and then apply sparingly to your pressure points to help relieve stress and anxiety, making it easier to drift off. Additionally, you could add a couple of drops to a warm bath and allow yourself to bathe for 10 minutes, breathing slowly.
Other benefits of Ylang Ylang oil include: Boosting your mood and self-esteem and helping ease tension.
Valerian oil is most popularly used to aid insomnia, nervous tension and restlessness. Using valerian oil can improve the quality of your sleep, allowing you to fall asleep faster and wake up feeling more energised. Due to its soothing properties, valerian oil is ideal for those looking for a method to improve their sleep and mental health. The aroma can be pungent or unpleasant, and if you find it hard to tolerate you may wish to blend the scent with other oils such as Lavender or Chamomile.
Other benefits of Valerian oil include: Relieving stress and anxiety, promoting relaxation, helping with menstrual pain and easing menopause symptoms.
The soft herbal scent of Chamomile has been linked to improving sleep quality and reducing nightmares. Research has found that chamomile oil contains a compound called alpha-pinene which interacts with the brain’s neurotransmitters, acting as a sedative and helping to ease anxiety. This can be particularly useful if you often find yourself lying awake at night with racing thoughts, as it may help you to relax.
Other benefits of Chamomile oil include: Easing irritability and agitation, helping with digestive issues such as indigestion or nausea and, helping with pain management.
The sweet, earthy scent of Cedarwood may be worth using as part of your night-time routine if you struggle with insomnia. Cedarwood has natural sedative properties and is believed to be emotionally grounding, promoting feelings of tranquillity and safety.
Other benefits of Cedarwood oil include: Helping to fight off colds and infections, repelling household bugs, reduces muscle pain and relieving tension.
The sweet scent of vanilla has been widely used for relaxation and stress relief. Vanilla oil has sedative effects on the body, reducing hyperactivity and restlessness, quietening the nervous system and lowering your blood pressure. Additionally, it naturally helps relieve anxiety and depression. All of these benefits can help you get your desired quality of sleep. If the smell of cookies baking soothes you, then give vanilla a try for helping you sleep.
Other benefits of Vanilla oil include: Maintains respiratory health, relieves menstrual pain, helps reduce sugar cravings and defends against diseases.