Aromatherapy for Sleep

Aromatherapy for Sleep

Aromatherapy for Sleep

When the world becomes overwhelming and anxiety makes it hard to sleep, it helps to go back to basics.

Back to the essentials.  

The practise of using essential oils for deep sleep goes back thousands of years. Ancient civilisations like the Egyptians, Romans, Greeks and Indians used essential oils for therapeutic, spiritual and hygienic purposes.

Today, Australians are rediscovering the benefits of natural remedies like aromatherapy to help with sleep, stress and sickness.

What is aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy uses essential oils derived from plants for therapeutic benefits, from better sleep to emotional wellbeing and even pain reduction.

Our sense of smell is part of a complex olfactory system that does much more than detect and identify odours. Special olfactory receptors in the nose link directly to the brain, sending neural signals that translate scent into physiological responses.

If you’ve ever felt calm when smelling lavender, or physically reacted to an offensive odour, this is a result of your olfactory system at work.

When it comes to sleep, essential oils can help calm an anxious mind (and heart) for a deeper, more restful slumber.

Aromatherapy for sleep and anxiety

Aromatherapy has long been associated with better sleep. Scents like lavender oil, bergamot and sandalwood contain natural molecules that counteract stress symptoms.

The connection between our sense of smell and restful sleep is still being researched. Still, at least 15 studies “suggested a positive effect of essential oils on sleep”.

The 5 essential essential oils for deeper sleep

1. Lavender oil

Lavender oil has several benefits for sleeping better, whether you suffer from anxiety or just want to drift off to dreamland faster:

  • Lowers heart rate
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Suppressing anxiety and aggression
  • Increased energy in the morning

It’s thanks to two organic compounds found in lavender oil, linalool and linalyl acetate, which are proven to calm the nervous system.

In several studies, using lavender oil in aromatherapy for sleep was shown to have a calming effect, even for people with insomnia.

2. Cedarwood

The warm, woody fragrance of cedarwood oil in your bedtime aromatherapy mix can evoke a grounding feeling.

Cedrol found in cedarwood oil has a sedative effect on animals and humans, improving sleep quality and increasing sleep duration. Cedarwood also acts as a powerful insect repellent, an added benefit.

3. Bergamot

Bergamot, another essential oil containing linalyl acetate, has benefits including improved mental health and lower blood pressure, helping with the stress symptoms that disrupt sleep.

Blending bergamot essential oil with lavender and ylang-ylang improves sleep quality. In another study focused on women, a bergamot-sandalwood mixture improved sleep quality in 64% of participants.

4. Ylang-Ylang

Ylang-ylang is a small tree with a potent effect on sleep in aromatherapy. Natural compounds like linalool, geraniol and geranyl acetate can bring down an anxious heart rate and calm your breathing.

Ylang-ylang is also a natural mood booster proven to raise self-esteem and promote feelings of wellbeing.

5. Chamomile

Chamomile tea is a popular concoction in calming bedtime routines. So it’s no surprise chamomile makes the list of the best essential oils for deep sleep.

Roman chamomile, the sunny flower with a bright yellow centre and white leaves, has been used for centuries to treat ailments like hay fever, headaches, menstrual pain, inflammation and insomnia.

In aromatherapy, calming chamomile oil is prized among people kept awake by an anxious mind.

How to use lavender, cedarwood and other essential oils in your sleep routine

There are many ways to create a sanctuary of calm in your bedroom. Essential oils can be incorporated into your evening routine or diffused throughout your bedroom.

Applying essential oils on skin

Essential oils are used in massage therapy to achieve the same healing effects as aromatherapy.

Rubbing just a few drops of essential oil on your skin (usually mixed with a neutral “carrier” oil) enables olfactory receptors in your nose and skin to pick up the scent.

Diffusing essential oils for deep sleep

There are many types of diffusers, so finding the one that suits your sleep sanctuary might involve some experimenting.

  • Reed diffuser: A favourite lo-fi diffuser that uses wooden reeds to disperse an essential oil blend.
  • Ultrasonic diffuser: Modern aromatherapy at its finest, using water and soundwaves to create a fine mist throughout the night.
  • Natural diffuser: Add a few drops of essential oil to a wooden, stone or ceramic diffuser for a decorative – and therapeutic – accessory.

Inhaling a blend of essential oils including lavender and bergamot is perhaps the most popular method of sleep aromatherapy.

Immersing essential oils in water

Using fragrant essential oils like lavender, cedarwood and ylang-ylang in the bath can stimulate those same calming olfactory responses, with the added benefit of making your bathroom smell sublime.

Simply add a few drops of your favourite essential oils to a warm bath before bed and let the relaxing linalool work its magic.

How do you use essential oils for deep sleep?

Everyone experiences the benefits of essential oils differently. If anxiety and stress keep you up at night, essential oils are one strategy to calm your mind and fall into a deeper sleep.

Head to the OLARA blog for more tips on creating a cosy sanctuary and enjoying a better night’s sleep.

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