As anyone who's ever suffered from insomnia will tell you, there's no substitute for a good night's sleep. With all the pressures of modern day life, though, that sleep can be hard to come by. When things aren't right--whether your blood pressure is up, there are problems at work or even at home--the body responds to those strains and struggles to relax.
The good news is that often natural methods can help improve sleep. Certain essential oils, utilized in the right manner and proportions, can land you comfortably in dreamland!
A few drops is usually all it takes, and intake options include air diffusers, steam from pots of boiling water or simply massaging directly into the skin. Read on for the best essential oils to get your nightly forty winks and then some!
1. Lavender Oil
Well known for its versatility of benefits, lavender oil is top-of-field when it comes to help with sleep as well. Numerous studies have cited the effectiveness of inhaling lavender oil to keep insomnia at bay. In large part, this is related to the other benefits lavender oil confers, which include lowering heart rate, temperature and blood pressure, all processes which--not incidentally--mirror the stages the body undergoes when easing into sleep. Lavender oil is also known to reduce anxiety, which is critical to relaxing at the end of a long day fraught with any number of difficulties.
2. Ylang Ylang Oil
Perhaps not quite as potent a sleep remedy as lavender oil, ylang ylang isn't far behind. An extract of tropical trees in Asia, ylang ylang--like lavender oil--lowers blood pressure and heart rate and quite naturally sets the body up for sleep. When breathed in, the oil gives off a very fruity and pleasing scent, something which is calming in its own right.
3. Chamomile Oil
The soothing effects of chamomile oil and its benefits in bringing about sleep are more general than specific. The direct effects of this oil on the body's rhythms and temperature is minimal, but when diffused in the air, the subtle floral aroma has a calming and relaxing effect on the mind. Roman chamomile in particular--with its fresh, apple-tinged fragrance--is ideal for staving off anxiety.
4. Peppermint Oil
Not a traditional sleep aid, peppermint oil nonetheless is great for promoting restfulness by clearing your head, both figuratively and literally. The pleasant aroma of peppermint oil can be relaxing, but more to the point, if you suffer from any seasonal allergies or dust sensitivity, nothing will ease your symptoms better or more quickly than diffusing some peppermint oil in the air of your bedroom. Once you finally find relief for those sore nasal passages, the drop-off to relaxation and then sleep is sudden and satisfying.
5. Bergamot Oil
Bergamot oil has a little something for everyone, and insomnia-sufferers are no exception. Noted for its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, bergamot oil also reduces blood pressure and heart rate and prepares the body for sleep, much in the same way that lavender oil and ylang ylang oil do. As an added benefit, though, bergamot oil has been shown to reduce stressful thoughts, which are a common barrier to good rest. Put a few drops in a steaming pot of water and breathe in deeply and sleep won't be far behind!
6. Sandalwood Oil
Sandalwood oil is rich both in scent and--unfortunately--in cost, but as with many such things, you get what you pay for! Few oils are as effective as sandalwood at promoting deep rest, due largely to its mood-balancing properties. While other oils may slow heart rates or chase away troubling thoughts, sandalwood oil is unique in that it evens you out emotionally. Always keep some on hand for when you need to rest and unwind and--if you prepare sleep blends--always include at least a little sandalwood as an ingredient.
7. Cedarwood Oil
With the same sort of woodsy aroma as sandalwood essential oil, cedarwood oil is a more affordable--if somewhat less effective--alternative to ease stress and take the edge off. For best results, either apply topically or blend with chamomile and then diffuse in the air of your bedroom.
8. Marjoram Oil
Many essential oils will help you get to sleep, but marjoram oil will actually keep you there. The sweet fragrance can be counted on to soothe you both physically and mentally, and to produce the kind of deep, peaceful sleep where you truly heal and recharge. When selecting a type of marjoram as a sleep aid, the sweeter the better.
9. Clary Sage Oil
For depression-suffers, clary sage oil is a must. Unlike regular sage, clary sage oil excels at combating the sort of dark thoughts that regularly besiege folks as day gives way to night, and will soothe your troubled mind enough to nudge you over those obstacles into a deep, restful slumber.
10. Vetiver Oil
Vetiver oil is less about basking in pleasing aromas and more about sheer effect. With its deep, earthy smell, vetiver oil isn't for everybody, but it's hard to argue with the results. If you can't stop dwelling on the events of the day and slow your mind down into a relaxed state, vetiver oil is likely what you need. Diffuse into the air when you lay down in bed for the night and you'll be surprised how quickly your concerns begin to melt away.
11. Eucalyptus Oil
Like peppermint oil, eucalyptus oil combines a naturally relaxing aroma with potent sinus-clearing properties. If you're one who suffers from excessive phlegm production when you get prone to sleep, eucalyptus oil provides the dual benefit of relaxing you and relieving your congestion so that you can get the good night's sleep that you need.
12. Valerian Oil
Last but not least is valerian oil, well known for having a deeply calming effect overall. Valerian is used as an ingredient in many nighttime teas for exactly this reason. Like marjoram, valerian oil will ensure that you not only sleep but sleep well.
Once you find the right oil (or oils!) for you, your midday yawns will be a thing of the past!
*The contents of this article and blog should not be considered medical advice. Please ask your practitioner prior to implementing essential oils into your treatment plan.