Having grown up in a “crunchy” home, I knew I wanted essential oils when a friend first told me about them. But what really made me say, “Wow!” was the effectiveness of essential oils for sleep.
All the women in my family–my mom, my sister, and I have all struggled with sleep issues for years, and now we all swear by our oils. No more sleepless nights!
Tips for using oils for sleep
Before we talk about the specific essential oils for sleep, here are some tips for making them work for you.
1. Make sure you’re choosing potent, pure oils.
If you’re looking for a deep, restful night’s sleep, you’ll want to use quality oils.
If you’re using cheap drugstore oils, chances are they’re synthetic or diluted. At best, they won’t do much more than smell nice. At worst, they can actually cause more harm than good with the harmful effects of the synthetic chemicals they’re cut with.
2. Try a few oils and blends until you find the ones that work for you.
Everyone responds a little differently to different oils. Experiment! You may also find that different ones work better for different times.
For example, when I can’t fall asleep because my mind is racing, I use a different oil or blend than I might use if I’ve had several sleepless nights and just need to be sure I finally get a good night of sleep.
What are the best essential oils for sleep?
Here are 10 essential oils that have been shown to be effective for their calming, sleep-promoting effects.
There was a time when I didn’t like lavender. I’m not a huge fan of florals, but I’ve learned to love it for its value more than for an appreciation of the scent.
Some people do find that lavender is stimulating rather than calming, so you’ll have to try it for yourself. But for the majority of people it’s a very calming and relaxing oil.
It is physically and emotionally balancing and can reduce mental stress.
Many scientific studies have shown that lavender can improve sleep quality–just search for “lavender sleep” on PubMed.
Because it’s such a popular essential oil, lavender is often adulterated so that companies can sell more of it at a cheaper price. Make sure you know where your lavender is coming from for a truly effective oil!
I love the way vetiver smells. Distilled from the roots of a grass, it has an almost citrus, grassy scent.
It’s a very thick oil, so you’ll want to warm up the bottle a bit in your hands before attempting to drip it from the bottle. Even then it may take a while to come out, so be patient!
- help calm anxious feelings
- improve focus for hyperactive children
- help you deal with stress and emotional trauma
- balance postpartum emotions
This study showed a positive effect on breathing patterns during sleep. This is a great one to try if you snore.
3. Roman chamomile
Ever try a hot cup of chamomile tea to help you fall asleep at night? You can get a similar effect from a drop or two of Roman chamomile essential oil.
Studies show that chamomile’s almost hypnotic qualities can reduce the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, and inhaling the diffused oil can lower stress hormones.
Chamomile can also
- alleviate restlessness
- calm occasional anxiety
- ease hyperactivity
- promote clear skin
Cedarwood is another personal favorite and the first one that made me realize how truly amazing essential oils are for sleep. The scent does take a little getting used to, but it is extremely effective.
If I can’t fall asleep, I know cedarwood will make it happen.
Cedarwood works by stimulating the brain’s pineal gland, which produces melatonin and helps you fall asleep.
Cedarwood is also very good for the hair and skin and is a good one to add to your shampoo when your postpartum hormones are making your hair fall out.
Be aware that cedarwood can give you some very strange dreams. I find it helpful to blend it with another oil or two to reduce the weird-dream effects.
Valerian is another oil with a strong scent that can take some getting used to, but its tranquilizing effects make it extremely useful for improving sleep quality.
Valerian is well researched for its sleep-promoting effects due to its calming influence on the central nervous system.
It has been used since the time of Hippocrates to help people fall asleep faster and get more restful sleep.
6. Ylang ylang
Remember I said I don’t care for florals? Ylang ylang is one of the few exceptions. It’s sweet and almost fruity and smells good enough to eat.
Traditionally used on newlywed couple’s bed on their wedding night, ylang ylang is amazing for *ahem* other uses in the bedroom. I personally like to apply it as a perfume when I’m needing a little boost in that area…
This calming oil is also effective for reducing stress and occasional anxiety and can help you fall asleep faster.
If you’ve ever enjoyed a cup of Earl Grey tea, you’ve experienced bergamot. An essential component of traditional Italian medicine, bergamot is a citrus with a calming, relaxing effect.
It makes a perfect addition to any sleep essential oil blend and can also support natural hormone balance.
Sandalwood is an emotionally balancing oil that helps ease tension. It’s calming and relaxing and promotes deep, restful sleep.
Like cedarwood, sandalwood stimulates the pineal gland, which is responsible for producing the sleep hormone melatonin.
Sandalwood is emotionally grounding and can stimulate the immune system.
Marjoram is another essential oil that’s good for the emotions. The Greeks and Romans both thought of it as an herb of joy and happiness. It’s also effective for female hormone balance.
Add this one to a sleep blend to ease emotional stress and calm your nerves so you can relax.
It took me the longest time to actually start using frankincense. It smelled strange to me, and I knew it was one of the more valuable essential oils. Being a very frugal person, I didn’t want to waste it.
But now I don’t know what I would do without it. Sometimes called the “coconut oil of essential oils,” its uses are wide and varied.
It’s spiritually and emotionally balancing and very calming. Since it’s also great for your skin, I think it’s an awesome oil to use at nighttime. I apply a couple drops to my face to support both my skin and my rest while I sleep.
How do you use essential oils for sleep?
When you’re using essential oils for sleep, there are generally two ways that work best.
Apply essential oils to your skin to help you get a good night’s rest. Some oils (such as lavender) can be applied neat (without diluting), but to make your oils last longer and reduce the risk of skin irritation, you can dilute them with a fatty carrier oil such as olive or coconut oil.
Try making up a blend of oils you like and putting them in a roller bottle topped with a carrier oil for easy application.
I like to apply them to my neck or the bottoms of my feet.
A second, popular way to use essential oils for sleep is by diffusing them. Set up a diffuser in your bedroom and put in 6-10 drops of your favorite oil or blend (the exact amount will vary by personal preference and your specific diffuser).
For some help with what to put in your diffuser, check out these diffuser blends for sleep.
If you start diffusing 20 or so minutes before you go to sleep, your room will be ready to go for a restful night of sleep.
Essential oils are an amazing resource for sleep
There are many ways to get a good night of sleep, but essential oils are one of my favorite. These 10 oils will give you a great start in figuring out what your magic sleep-time oils are.
Which oils for sleep are you excited to try?
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