In case you are unfamiliar with essential oils, they are simply concentrated, natural liquid oils that carry the smell from the source they were derived from. You may have come across bottles of them before in health and beauty stores, usually marketed as a way to freshen your home or add scents to your cosmetics. But, did you know that essential oils can help promote relaxation and a better night’s sleep?
How it Works
Our sense of smell has a powerful effect on the brain. Have you ever walked into someone’s home and thought “wow, this smells just like so-and-so’s home” and then felt like you were taken back to old memories from that smell? It’s because the sense of smell is directly connected to the brain and so the things we smell can affect both our memory and our feelings. For a deep and long night’s sleep, we want smells that will signal our brain to relax and unwind.
The Best Essential Oils to Promote Relaxation and Better Sleep
- Lavender: lavender is one of the more common-known essential oils for promoting relaxation. Studies have shown that lavender has a sedative effect on the brain by soothing and calming the nervous system. Some studies have even shown that lavender oil is an effective treatment for patients suffering from insomnia.
- Chamomile: just as many consume chamomile tea to promote relaxation, chamomile essential oils can have the same effect. Chamomile has the same sedative effect as lavender, and mixing the oils together creates a beautiful, relaxing aroma.
- Vanilla: it’s no wonder that you can find vanilla-scented everything in stores- candles, room sprays, perfumes, etc. Studies have shown that vanilla promotes a sense of happiness and relaxation. If you have a tendency to go to bed angry, vanilla oil may help alleviate some of those feelings and allow you to sleep more soundly.
- Sweet Marjoram: marjoram is now more than a cooking herb in your kitchen! Marjoram works by calming the nervous system and some studies have shown that it provides relief to aching muscles and joints as well.
- Clary Sage: this lesser-known essential oil has some phenomenal effects on the brain, it normalises GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid) levels in the brain, thereby reducing stress and nervousness.
How to Use Essential Oils for Better Sleep
- Rub them directly on your skin: it is important to dilute the essential with some other kind of oil to avoid irritation, such as coconut oil or walnut oil. You can rub a small amount anywhere on your body before bed, the back of the neck is a great place for this. It is best to do a small test patch on your arm or leg to check for any signs of irritation prior to regular use on the neck and other areas of the body.
- Use an essential oil diffuser: you can buy these diffusers at most home-goods stores. Most of these diffusers work by adding a few drops of the essential oil to some water in the diffuser and placing on your bed stand or desk that is close to the bed. You will be surrounded by calming scents all night.
- Putting directly on sleeping surfaces: you may choose to put a few drops of essential oil on the bottom side of your pillowcase or in the corner of your fitted sheet on your mattress. The material should hold the smell for a week or so, and you can add more anytime you feel like the scent is fading. This method can be really wonderful, but could stain your surfaces due to the oil, so be selective in what areas you choose to use the oil on.
(Photo courtesy of www.essentialoilspedia.com)