It seems almost impossible to believe that not long ago the use of aromatherapy and natural remedies, like the following 12 essential oils for sleep, would have been considered shocking. Those that used herbal remedies and offered alternative treatments often did so in secrecy for fear of being prosecuted, isolated and shunned.
The most unfortunate fared considerably worse than mere isolation. They were accused of practicing witchcraft. This was likely to see the naturopaths and herbalists of the time being tortured or burned at the stake.
Luckily time has passed, learning has occured and Herbalism is now globally accepted as being beneficial for health.
The use of oils for aromatherapy is now viewed by many as standard therapeutic practice. Very often it is recommended as part of a patient’s holistic treatment programme by members of the medical profession.
How Has Aromatherapy And The Use Of Essential Oils Become Accepted As Therapeutic?
I believe there are three main drivers that explain how aromatherapy has become seen as medicinal and beneficial for health:
1. Individuals Have Greater Focus On Personal Health And Well Being.
We are now, more than ever before in history, overtly conscious of our physical and emotional health. More thought is given to what we eat, what we drink and what else we put into our body. This has lead to us determining for ourselves what we find acceptable as food or for treating physical or mental health issues.
We have seen values and trends in society shift. Our acceptance and blind trust in prescribed medicines and pharmaceuticals has changed, with many of us choosing natural remedies as our first option.
2. Access To Education Has Enabled Informed Choice.
We now have much greater access to educational information. Whether we use the internet, take a course, watch TV or simply discuss ideas with friends we can’t deny we are surrounded by mass information.
The access we have to an abundance of technologies teamed with our growing sense of global citizenship means we have constant, and often free, access to huge amounts of information and education.
This has provided us with a way to learn about alternative and complementary medicines as well as other global practices for natural health. It has also made us aware of, and exposed, the risks that exist when taking pharmaceuticals. The information age enables us to make personal informed choice based upon our beliefs, understanding and education.
3. Clinical Studies And Research Have Offered Proof.
Potentially this is what has made the most impact and provided some alternative therapies greater credibility. Our focus on personal health and well being during this information age has led us to requiring evidence and proof.
This has led to increased scientific research and clinical studies focused on natural remedies and alternative medicines. The vast majority of these having published positive findings.
The weight we give to scientific research supports our basic human need for proof! It gives credibility to claims that essential oils have properties conducive to health. We find that therapies once frowned upon, or seen as “wacky” now are finding wide mainstream acceptability!
So How Do Essential Oils For Sleep Work?
All of our 12 oils have differing properties and chemical compositions. Each of our oils has a unique chemical profile. This profile depends on the plant used, the part of the plant the oil is extracted from and the age of the plant. Therefore the way they help us gain sleep is unique to each oil.
We too, as humans, are individuals and our lack of sleep will be caused by many different factors.
The oils and application methods that work for one person may be totally ineffectual for someone else. The aroma and its impact upon us and our sleep will be completely different for every individual.
One person may find an aroma exceptionally calming, but the same oil may trigger terrible memories for someone else. In the same way, a fragrance that one person finds highly unpleasant may be therapeutic and calming to another.
This is why we have chosen 12 different essential oils, and why we also combine them to form blends. As you begin working with each oil, and combining blends, you will very easily identify those that work for you, and those that do not.
However our 12 essential oils for sleep do share some similarities. It is because of their differences and commonalities that they are recognised as the best aromatherapy oils for sleep and promoting rest.
First similarity is that they all aide relaxation and bring about feelings of calm. It is only when our body is relaxed and our mind is calm that we feel tired. That feeling of tiredness then allows our mind to drift, our thoughts to wander and our body to sleep!
The Science Behind The Aromas
When we inhale the aromas from essential oils identified as having calming properties, it induces a response reaction in the brain. This response reaction sends messaging to our body signalling that it is time to relax.
The body responds, relaxes and prompts a restful night of sleep. You can also read more about the science of sleep here.
The effect of oils and aromas is cumulative. Meaning that when we achieve better sleep through using a specific oil, or blend, our brain forms a positive association.
This positive association, or aromatic connection, links the aroma of the essential oils to the quality of sleep achieved. When we establish a positive association we should use this oil, or blend, again. Our brain has already linked this fragrance to achieving a good night’s sleep.
And because the effect of using essential oils is cumulative we will find repeated use enhances the quality of sleep.
How Do You Know Which Oils Are Right For You?
This is where you need to begin experimenting. Try all of the oils individually to begin.
When you have identified those that help you relax, you can begin to blend them to see if this promotes better deeper sleep. It is through your own use and practice, and eventually personal knowledge of their effect, that you will determine the oils and blends that work for you.
There are around 300 commonly available types of essential oil. Many of these are believed to help with relaxation. Our list of 12 has been formed by those that have an evidence base for their selection.
All of our oils are relaxing and calming and recommended for the promotion of sound sleep. Multiple scientific research studies have been done on essential oils, such as Lavender, as well as Roman Chamomile and Neroli, that prove their effectiveness for sleep.
Research has proven that these 12 Essential Oils For Sleep work. However each of them have different effects and can be used in different ways.
As previously mentioned, one of the most important steps in choosing oils is our positive emotional response which forms a positive association to the aroma.
However it is not all about aroma. Essential oils also have chemical constituents which have direct, physiological effects on our bodies.
This means that oils can have an affect our body’s biochemistry when we inhale them, directly or via diffusion, or when we apply them topically.
Many people use essential oils via diffusion (or inhalation) however research suggests that topical application may be the most effective method for people who struggle with sleep or have a sleep disorder.
One study shows that the chemical components of lavender essential oil enters the bloodstream within five minutes from applying the oil onto the skin.
By massaging lavender essential oil into the skin we receive double the benefit. We gain the calming and relaxing response reaction from the brain via inhalation and also from the organic compounds which are absorbed through the skin!
The 1992 research study showed that maximum concentration levels from essential oils applied topically were observed within 20 minutes.
So what are the best essential oils that help gain restful sleep and relaxation?
The 12 Best Essential Oils For Sleep Are:
- Sweet Orange
- Roman Chamomile
- Juniper Berry
- Ylang Ylang
- Clary sage
Let’s discover more about each of them.
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1 – Valerian
Valerian essential oil is probably one of the most mentioned of all the oils that help us to get good sleep.
The herb and oil has been used for centuries to treat sleep disorders and help with emotional problems. Written records dating from the 17th century show it being used for the treatment of insomnia.
Ancient civilizations prized all varieties of Valerian, and for some it was seen as a magic herb. This was due to the hypnotic qualities the herb induced.
Valerian oil is produced through distillation using the root of the Valerian plant. It has a unique fragrance which is both calming and grounding.
The oil is actually classed as a calmative nervine with soporific and sedative effects. This means it is used to calm the nerves (calmative nervine) which induces drowsiness (soporific) and induces calm and promotes sleep (sedative).
Valerian essential oil can help us to fall asleep faster and improve the quality of our sleep. With deeper quality sleep we wake energized and ready for the day!
Note: Valerian Essential Oil is not recommended if you are already taking antidepressants or prescribed sedatives. It is also not recommended if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.healthynatured.com
2 – Sweet Orange
Sweet Orange essential oil has a wonderfully peaceful aroma. Using this oil via diffusion fills the room with fragrance that promotes feelings of harmony, love joy. Applied topically, and via diffusion, it promotes calm and relaxation.
Sweet Orange has been shown to be especially helpful for sleep issues that stem from stress or depression.
Some people think because citrus is known as an uplifting invigorating aroma it may not be suitable for sleep. However the reality is we need to feel uplifted and positive to achieve quality sleep.
This is why Sweet Orange is a favorite for many essential oil sleep blends. It is because of its fresh and uplifting scent. I recommend Sweet Orange and Lavender as an wonderful blended oil for achieving the positive mindset needed for excellent quality sleep.
3 – Roman Chamomile
There are many varieties of chamomile so you will want to ensure you get Roman Chamomile!
Roman Chamomile is unique. It has a sweet and herby aroma which creates an atmosphere of calm and relaxation.
Roman Chamomile essential oil is one of the few that is recommended for all ages. It is safe to use around infants, children and the elderly. In fact it is the perfect oil for all the family. Used in diffusion it assists all ages to find rest, to relax and to sleep well.
Research shows Roman Chamomile to be effective in treating sleep disorders and for relieving stress and anxiety. Diffusion is an excellent method of use for the oil, as is adding 2-3 drops to a bowl of very hot water and inhaling the vapor in slow, deep breaths.
Roman Chamomile is another calmative oil with sedative properties. It blends with all other oils on our list. So if our lack of sleep is due to exhaustion, stress, anxiety, depression or even if the reason is unknown, Roman Chamomile will help.
4 – Lavender
Lavender is by far the most popular of all the essential oils for sleep. It is excellent for relaxation and the oil I recommend for anyone new to aromatherapy and seeking help for sleep problems.
Lavender may be the most heavily researched of all our essential oils. Studies show lavender essential oil to have anxiolytic properties, meaning it inhibits anxiety. It also has been shown to help with the nervous system and aide depression.
Lavender essential oil can also be used to help us fall asleep due to it having mild sedative properties. It is also an excellent oil for improving our quality of sleep and increasing the amount of sleep we achieve. This is also proven for those suffering from insomnia.
I recommend using it in an aromatherapy diffuser and as a topically applied massage oil. Lavender can be blended with all the other oils on this list.
5 – Juniper Berry
The aroma of juniper berries is known for its positive impact on our emotional state. It can reduce the symptoms of both physical and emotional stress.
In many ancient civilizations Juniper Berry was prized as a natural anxiety remedy. It is one of the most effective essential oils for those dealing with internalized trauma and emotional pain. This is because, when inhaled, it is extremely effective at triggering a positive association relaxation response in our brain.
One research study focused on the effect of essential oils for those suffering with insomnia and who were taking medication for their condition. The study used a blend of oils including juniper berry essential oil (along with sandalwood, rose and orris).
The research shows that out of the 29 individuals in the study, 26 were able to reduce medication when they used the essential oil blend at night. More impressively 12 out of the 29 were able to stop taking their insomnia medication altogether.
Use juniper berry essential oil via diffusion, add a few drops to your evening bath or apply it topically by dabbing a mix to your inner wrists. To apply topically it must be mixed with a carrier oil, recommended 2 drops of Juniper Berry and 15 drops carrier.
6 – Frankincense
Frankincense essential oil has properties that induce feelings of peace and promotes our physical relaxation.
The aroma of Frankincense is earthy and uplifting. It is wonderful for creating an atmosphere that feels safe and provides comfort. It allows us to engage with issues that may be troubling us, to collect our thoughts and release stored emotion no longer serving our needs.
It is an excellent choice for anyone whose sleep problems stem from worrying or anxiety about the future. Frankincense is great for helping to determine our purpose, for use in our spiritual development and for prayer and meditation.
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7 – Angelica
Angelica is known as the “Oil of Angels”. This is because of its properties that help to calm anxiety, restore happy memories and aide in achieving peaceful deep sleep.
Angelica oil has soothing qualities. This helps to relax physical tension and stress in the muscles.
Angelica is excellent for conditions of the nerves. It is a relaxant and a stimulant. This doesn’t mean it will keep us awake. The Angelica helps to sedate and relax nervous conditions while providing enough stimulation so we are able to keep ourselves safe.
8 – Melissa
Melissa, or lemon balm, essential oil is known as the “Elixir of Life”. The Melissa oil has herbaceous aromas with a sweet lemony scent.
The aroma of Melissa inspires joy and helps to create feelings of warmth and peace. Melissa has hypnotic, calming properties that make it excellent for supporting those who suffer from insomnia.
Melissa is wonderful used in an essential oil diffuser 20 minutes before bed to enhance relaxation and feelings of drowsiness.
9 – Vetiver
Vetiver is a deeply relaxing essential oil that helps to promote deep sleep during times of nervous tension.
The Vetiver is known as the “oil of tranquility”. It has a strong woody and earthy aroma and has been used for its holistic sleep enhancing properties for centuries.
When added as part of our night sleep routine, the Vetiver oil helps us to balance our nerves, reduces anxiety and restlessness and reduces issues related to insomnia.
Blending Vetiver and Lavender essential oils is an excellent natural insomnia remedy. Vetiver is also excellent when blended with Clary Sage and Ylang Ylang.
10 – Ylang Ylang
Ylang Ylang is one of the most relaxing oils when diffused. It promotes great sleep because of its sedative effect on our nervous system.
Ylang Ylang essential oil has a deep floral aroma which helps reduce the impact that daily stress has on us. It also provides us with an environment of calm and peace.
Use Ylang Ylang individually or blend it with Vetiver to enjoy deep relaxing quality sleep.
Note: Ylang Ylang essential oil is very strong. This may cause some people headaches so start using small amounts or blend with other oils.healthynatured.com
11 – Clary Sage
Clary Sage is another known nervine (calming the nerves) and sedative essential oil used to promote better sleep.
Traditionally Clary Sage was used to enhance our ability to dream and to recall dreams. This essential oil contains naturally occurring sclareol which helps calm our nervous system in times of stress, depression and insomnia.
It is thought that the calming and relaxing properties of Clary Sage may help us to gain a more healthy and positive attitude by balancing our emotions and quieting our mind.
As a blend for restful sleep try diffusing Clary Sage with Lavender, Frankincense, and Sweet Orange.
12 – Cedarwood
Cedarwood is one of the most comforting and grounding of the essential oils for sleep. It has an earthy woodsy aroma that is perfect used in a diffuser before bed.
Cedarwood is a proven sedative and research shows it helps decrease our heart rate and even lowers blood pressure.
Cedarwood boosts our serotonin levels. It does this by stimulating our pineal gland which releases melatonin. The increased serotonin increases melatonin levels which is necessary for regulating and stabilizing our sleep pattern.
As well the relaxing, calming and comforting properties Cedarwood provides it is also an anti-inflammatory, expectorant and antiseptic. This makes it excellent if cold, cough or flu is causing a lack of sleep.
Use in a diffuser or in a carrier oil mix. Dap a couple of drops of Cedarwood mixed in carrier oil on your forehead, inner wrists or back of the neck at the base of skull.
How To Use The Essential Oils For Sleep.
Probably the most well known, and arguably the easiest and most effective method. Just add a few drops of essential oil to a diffuser half an hour before you go to bed.
Inhalation methods use the essential oils for the properties gained from their aroma.
- Add 2-3 drops to a cotton ball and place inside your pillow case.
- You can place the drops directly onto your pillow. If you do this ensure you place the pillow oil side down.
- Place a few drops into a carrier oil, at 5 drops essential oil to 20 drops carrier. Then add a few drops to your palms and rub them together. Breathe in the aroma while also benefiting from a topical application.
- Place some of the carrier oil mix directly behind your ears or inner wrists.
- Oil to Bath. Adding a few drops of our favorite oil is a great way to get the relaxing and sleep promoting benefits of aromatherapy. Having a warm soak an hour before bed will also promote relaxation and can help us gain better sleep.
Topical application is the use of oils on the skin. Usually topical application is applied to areas known as trigger point areas. These are the soles of the feet, on the inside of the wrists, at the inside of the knees, behind the ears and the back of the neck at the base of the skull.
When applying topically you need ensure the essential oils are mixed with a good quality carrier such as Coconut oil, Almond oil. Jojoba oil, Olive oil, Avocado oil, Argan oil and Arnica oil.
Always do a small skin patch test before using. Dap a drop or 2 on a small area of the inner wrist and leave for 24 hours. Only use topically if no allergic reaction occurs.
Your topical blend should be at 2% dilution which is 2 drops of essential oil per tablespoon of carrier oil.
This is a great way to achieve the relaxation of diffusion, without the diffuser!
- Add 20 drops of essential oil to a clean spray misting bottle.
- Add 1/2 cup fresh cold water.
- Replace the nozzle head, screw tight and shake well.
- Misting your room, and a light mist to your pillows, before you go to bed will help promote quality sleep.
- Ensure you shake the bottle well before each use.
Essential Oils For Sleep Blends
The following essential oil blends are recommended for use within a diffuser. They have been shown to aide with relaxation and promote better sleep.
Essential Oil Sleep Blend #1 – Promote Restfulness
To your diffuser add:
- 6 drops Lavender essential oil;
- 3 drops Frankincense essential oil;
- 3 drops Melissa essential oil;
- 3 drops Clary Sage essential oil.
Essential Oil Sleep Blend #2 – Ease Anxiety and Promote Calm
To your diffuser add:
- 6 drops Juniper Berry essential oil;
- 2 drops Lavender essential oil;
- 2 drops Cedarwood essential oil.
Essential Oil Sleep Blend #3 – For Deeper More Restful Sleep
To a diffuser add:
- 4 drops Angelica essential oil;
- 2 drops Vetiver essential oil;
- 4 drops Roman Chamomile essential oil;
- 2 drops Lavender essential Oil.
Essential Oil Sleep Blend #4 – Ease Anxiety And Calm Tensions.
Add to your diffuser:
- 6 drops Lavender essential oil;
- 3 drops frankincense oil;
- 3 drops Vetiver essential oil.
Essential Oil Sleep Blend #5 – Peace And Calm For Longer Sleep
To your diffuser add the following:
- 2 drops Ylang Ylang essential oil;
- 1 drop Sweet Orange essential oil;
- 2 drops Lavender essential oil;
- 1 drop Cedarwood essential oil;
- 1 drop Roman Chamomile essential oil.
I hope that you have been able to find the information needed to help you achieve a great night’s rest.
If you do try any of these essential oils for sleep and the suggested blends please do let me know how they worked for you! Or do you have other suggestions that should be added to our list? Add them to the comments section below or contact me directly.