The Best Essential Oils for Sleep and Insomnia
When you think about aromatherapy and essential oils, you probably have the word ‘relaxation’ pop into your mind first and foremost.
One of the most common reasons that people use any type of essential oils is because they want to relax and sleep better.
Of course, essential oils have other benefits too, such as helping with mood, relieving anxiety and stress, and even helping with digestive issues, but sleep and relaxation are two of the main reasons that anyone thinks about picking up an essential oils and working out how to use it in the best way for them.
There are countless essential oils, and most have different uses and things they’re good for.
Not all oils are ideal for sleep, so if you are trying to target your use towards getting a better night in the land of nod, it’s important to do your research before you start.
To help you out, we’re shortly going to talk about some of the best essential oils for sleep in general.
Before we get to that point, let’s have a quick recap on what essential oils actually are.
What Are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are oils which have been extracted from natural plants and flowers.
The way these oils are extracted varies, but the oil is considered the “essence” of the plant, i.e. the part which contains powerful health benefits and also the part which smells rather delicious!
Essential oils are used via aromatherapy and explores how the scent of the oil penetrates into the body and provides relief from various health ailments.
You can use essential oils in several different ways, but the most common method are inhalation and topical application onto the skin.
You should never ingest essential oils, and it is always best to dilute your oils with a carrier oil even for inhalation and topical use.
By doing this, you’re also getting extra benefits, because carrier oils, such as coconut and olive oils, have their own benefits too.
It’s important to check with your doctor before using any type of essential oil if you have any specific health problems or you’re on any medications.
For the most part, there are very few contraindications, but it’s best to get the green light from a medical professional who knows your specific situation and circumstances.
More and more health professionals are accepting essential oils are a key part of modern medicine, and you will find many practices offering aromatherapy sessions, aimed at certain conditions.
For instance, you may find hospitals offering aromatherapy for patients who are undergoing chemotherapy, as many oils are thought to help alleviate the unpleasant side effects of this powerful treatment.
How do Essential Oils For Sleep Work?
You’re no doubt wondering how this delicious smelling oil can affect how you sleep, but it’s actually quite a complex process.
Smells are known to be extremely powerful.
For instance, have you ever smelled a specific scent and automatically been transported back to a certain time in your life?
For instance, you might smell a perfume you used to wear when you were a teenager and you’re suddenly back in high school!
The reason for this is because your sense of smell is directly connected to the parts of your brain which are responsible for emotions and memories.
When you smell a certain scent, for instance a specific essential oils, the enzymes are carried through the nose via the olfactory channel and up to the brain.
The part of the brain which is affected by smells is called the limbic system, which contains the amygdala.
This is renowned for being connected with memories and strong emotions and mood.
From there, the scent may connect with a memory that you have in your memory bank, and this specific part of the brain will quickly link them together.
This explains why perhaps when you smell a certain type of cologne you might remember someone from your past who used to wear it.
All of this happens within an instant.
So, how does this link to sleep?
When you feel relaxed, less stressed, less anxious, and calm, you’re bound to sleep better, and that is what essential oils help to promote within the limbic system of your brain.
Studies have shown that inhaling a specific essential oil can therefore help you to relax and bring on sleep far easier than otherwise.
Of course, there are certain conditions which can affect your sleeping pattern too, such as stress, anxiety and depression.
The ironic thing is that these are also affected by the same part of the brain, so by helping you to relax, you’re actually improving these other conditions too.
For that reason, lavender is thought to be a great option for anxiety, stress, depression and sleep.
These can all be intrinsically linked, making essential oils for sleep a far bigger deal than you might first realise.
Best Essential Oils For Sleep
Now we know why essential oils are beneficial for sleep issues and we understand what happens inside the brain when you use them, which oils are the best if you want to target your sleeping pattern?
Every essential oils has its own specific composition, making it better for some conditions than others.
The five oils below are all renowned for helping with sleep issues, relaxation, and giving you a generally blissed out feeling in general.
How you use the oils is completely up to you, but remember to never ingest them.
Most people use diffusers to inhale the scent of the oil, or may add a drop or two to the inner wrists or temples.
Remember, always dilute an essential oil before using it on the skin, to avoid irritation.
Let’s look at some of the best essential oils for sleep.
Lavender Essential Oil
Without a doubt the most commonly used essential oil in general, lavender is renowned for its sleep aiding properties.
Studies have shown that lavender is useful for a variety of different ailments but relaxation and sleep is one of the biggest.
Lavender is also known to help with anxiety and stress, but adding a drop or two to your bath, rubbing a little onto your temples or the inner wrists, or using it in a diffuser could bring you relief from insomnia and other sleep-related issues.
Vanilla Essential Oil
The smell of vanilla is rather delicious alone, but this particular oil is renowned for helping to chill you out completely, kick out stress, and therefore help you to sleep far better.
The oil is thought to lower blood pressure a little, help you deal with hyperactivity and overthinking, and therefore allow you to relax more during the evenings, when you need to nod off to sleep.
This is another oil which has anxiety relieving properties, and can help you to feel more uplifted in general.
Let’s face it, a sniff of vanilla reminds you home baking!
Rose Essential Oil
Another beautifully scented oil which is also linked with relaxation and sleep.
Rose oil is a very common oil to find in health stores and even in some supermarkets, alongside lavender oil.
The flowery scent helps you to feel calm and relaxed and you might even like to try blending rose oil with geranium oil for a truly floral treat.
Again, most people use rose oil in a diffuser or as a drop onto the skin, but always dilute it with a carrier oil to avoid irritation and rashes.
Rose oil can be quite potent and you don’t want to be itching whilst you’re trying to sleep!
Jasmine Essential Oil
A little like rose oil, jasmine is a deliciously floral scent which has sleep enhancing properties.
Some experts liken jasmine to valerian root, which is a herbal remedy used for insomnia and sleep issues, without the rather terrible smell!
Yet again, jasmine is also linked with stress and anxiety reduction, and some even think it works better than lavender.
Of course, there is no ‘one size fits all’ answer here, so you might like to try both and see which works best for you.
Sandalwood Essential Oil
If you’re not keen on flowery scents, sandalwood oil could be a good choice for you, with an earthy scent, rather than floral.
This is an oil which has long been linked with reduction of anxiety symptoms, but it is also deeply relaxing, which makes it ideal for sleep promotion.
It is worth noting that some people find sandalwood doesn’t help with sleep as much as some of the other oils we’ve mentioned, whilst others swear by it.
Again, it’s about finding the right choice for you.
This is because some people find it helps them stay alert, more than relaxed, but that isn’t the case for everyone.
How to Use Essential Oils Safely
Now you know which oils are best for sleep issues, how can you use them safely?
The best choices are:
- Add a few drops to your bath. You should have your bath around an hour to an hour and a half before bed for best results
- Inhale the oil via a diffuser. A diffuser allows the oil to work its way into the air, helping you to breathe in the scent whilst you’re trying to sleep. Again, make sure you dilute with a carrier oil if necessary
- Use a room mist. If you don’t want to use a diffuser, you can create the same effect with a room spray. You can even make your own, by adding a few drops of oil to half a cup of water. You could spray your pillow, to help you to inhale the scent more effectively.
- Topical application to the pressure points. Add a drop or two to the wrists or behind your ears, however make sure that you always dilute with a carrier oil, to avoid irritation to the skin. Olive oil and coconut oil make for wonderful carrier oil choices.
Everyone has a difference tolerance to smell, so it could be that a certain scent is too strong for you, or too weak.
Play around a little and find the ideal middle ground for you, and a level which allows you to relax and gain benefit from your aromatherapy endeavours.
It’s also worth mentioning that just because one oil says it’s good for sleep, it might not work well for you.
We’re all different, and it could be that one oil doesn’t work for your sleeping needs, but another does.
Again, experiment and find the ideal oil for your needs; just because many people use lavender with great effects, doesn’t mean that it’s going to give you the sleep enhancement you need.
You might find more benefit with vanilla or rose, and that’s something you can only find out via experimentation and research.
Many essential oils are ideal for helping you to relax enough to get a good night’s sleep, whilst also helping with anxiety, stress, and even depression symptoms.
Make sure that you speak to your doctor before using any type of essential oil, especially if you have any existing conditions or you’re taking any medications, but overall, many people use essential oils for this particular benefit alone.
Whilst essential oils boast many different relief factors for specific ailments, sleep is the one that everyone seems to want to grab.
We live such busy lives, always rushing from place to place, and it’s no wonder that insomnia and other sleep issues are so prevalent.
Using essential oils could give you a natural route towards total relaxation and allow you to get the good night’s sleep that you need, in order to function healthily the next day.
Remember to do your research and find the ideal oil for your needs, and always make sure that you choose an oil that you actually like the smell of!
Just because rose oil is said to be good for sleep doesn’t mean you have to use it, if you find the floral smell too overpowering.
There is an oil for everyone, you simply need to find it.