Essential Oils for Sleep
Sleep is an essential human function that is important for physical and mental well-being. Sleep allows both our bodies and brains to function properly, and helps us prepare for the following day. How we feel when we are awake is often dependent on the quality of the sleep we had the night before.1
Sleep deficiency may start suddenly or may slowly become a habit over time. On a day-to-day basis, sleep deficiency can affect learning, memory recall, decision making, the ability to deal with change, and how we express our emotions or behaviors. Chronic sleep deficiency can increase the risk of certain health problems, such as obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.1
Insomnia is the most common sleep-related condition reported by adults. Every year, millions of Americans suffer from insomnia which may prevent them from falling or staying asleep.2
Insomnia can be acute, which may last several days or weeks and is usually triggered by a stressful or traumatic event. Chronic insomnia may last for months and may be caused by other medical conditions, medications, mental health disorders or excessive caffeine or alcohol consumption.3
Symptoms include difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, fatigue, irritability, anxiety, problems with focusing or paying attention or an increase in poor judgements or errors.3
Insomnia is often treatable with lifestyle changes, such as being active, limiting caffeine, or adjusting medications.4 In some cases, over-the-counter medications may be required. However, these medications are intended for short term use and may become addictive, cause adverse side effects or leave users feeling groggy the next morning.
To avoid these side effects, many individuals are turning to natural remedies such as aromatherapy for sleep deprivation or insomnia. Using essential oils to help you sleep is a convenient, affordable, all-natural and non-invasive solution to troubling sleep conditions.
What Essential Oil is Good for Sleep?
Essential oils can act by triggering the central nervous system and circulatory system to promote sleep in the body. To test these effects, an increasing amount of scientific studies have been conducted to evaluate their effectiveness on humans. The following are considered the best essential oils for sleep due to their sedative, calming or stress-reducing properties.
Cedarwood Essential Oil for Sleep
A valuable quality of cedarwood essential oil is its natural sedative property. In a 2003 study, scientists examined cedarwood oil for sleep. Participants were instructed to inhale cedrol, a main constitute found in cedarwood essential oil.
Inhalation of cedrol was shown to decrease heart rate, diastolic and systolic blood pressure of the participants. Since the results indicated modifications in the autonomic nervous system, cedarwood essential oil is believed to have a soothing effect, making it an effective essential oil for sleep.
Lavender Oil for Sleep
There are several benefits of lavender essential oil including its sedative, anti-anxiety and stress reducing properties. Several studies have indicated that using lavender essential oil for sleep may help slow down the central nervous system activity. The resulting calming effect may cause a person to have better quality of sleep, reduced anxiety and improve overall mood.
Lavender essential oil may also improve sleep quality for individuals in hospital environments. Sleep deprivation is common for hospital patients and may have a negative impact on recovery and general well-being. In a 2014 study, lavender essential oil was used as part of an aromatherapy treatment to promote sleep. Researchers noted that patients who received the essential oil for sleep had a decrease in blood pressure and a higher overall sleep score.5
Lavender essential oil may also reduce the effects of insomnia resulting from a generalized anxiety disorder. While preliminary research is promising, further studies on how to use lavender essential oil for sleep are required.
Neroli Essential Oil for Sleep
The benefits of neroli essential oil include having sedative, anti-anxiety and calming properties. A 2013 study combined a mixture of lavender, neroli and chamomile essential oils to examine the impact of aromatherapy on the quality of sleep among participants in an intensive care unit. Patients were instructed to inhale the aroma for several minutes. The mixture was then applied to a stone and placed under the patient’s pillowcase overnight.
Results indicate that subjects in the experiment group demonstrated improved sleep quality, compared to the control group.
Vetiver Essential Oil for Sleep
The calming properties of vetiver essential oil make it one of the top aromatherapy oils for sleep. Its sedative properties may help alleviate stress and improve sleep quality. Vetiver is often considered the best essential oil for deep sleep.
Chamomile Essential Oil for Sleep
A well-known benefit of chamomile essential oil is its sedative quality. In a 2010 study, chamomile essential oil was observed to decrease levels of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), a by-product of stress. This may help users feel more relaxed, making it easier to fall asleep.
Chamomile essential oil also contains anti-inflammatory properties that when applied topically, may help users who are kept awake by pain.
Sandalwood Essential Oil for Sleep
One notable benefit of sandalwood essential oil is its natural sleep aid properties. In a recent clinical trial, sandalwood essential oil was noted to have a depressive effect on the central nervous system, which helped promote relaxation and sleep. Sandalwood is one of the most popular essential oils for sleep aid remedies and one of the best essential oils for insomnia.
Essential Oils for Babies Sleep
Sleep is essential for proper growth and development. On average, newborn babies will sleep more than 16 hours a day. Young children also require lots of sleep, and often take naps throughout the day.6 While young children require this sleep to grow, a range of factors may inhibit their ability to fall asleep.
While parents may be quick to use essential oils for sleep, children can have adverse reactions to some essential oils. Before using any essential oils for kid’s sleep, consult with a health care practitioner to ensure the essential oil is safe.
Since babies are still developing and unable to communicate properly, most essential oils should never be used on their sensitive skin, as they can cause respiratory issues. However, a recent study indicates that lavender essential oil may have a relaxing and soothing effect on colicky babies when used as a part of aromatherapy massage.7
While lavender is one of the most well-known and widely used essential oils for baby sleep, always consult with a health care provider before using any essential oil on or around an infant.
For toddlers, using essential oils may be an alternative approach for sleep issues or deprivation. The most commonly used essential oils include chamomile, lavender, eucalyptus, and lemongrass. Users should obtain doctors approval prior to using any essential oils for toddler sleep issues. Talk to your doctor about proper dosing and the best method of delivery for your child.
Essential Oil Combinations for Sleep
There are many essential oil blends for sleep that can help both the mind and body relax. When mixed appropriatelyese essential oil blends for sleep may have lasting effects on the body. The following essential oil recipes for sleep are considered the most useful for adults with insomnia or trouble achieving deep sleep.
Chamomile and Cedarwood Essential Oil Recipe for Sleep
For users who have trouble staying asleep, add 3 drops of chamomile essential oil and 2 drops of cedarwood essential oil to diffuser before you go to sleep. These essential oils for deep sleep will help your body relax throughout the night. Several high-quality diffusers have automatic timers, allowing the machine to run automatically as you fall asleep.
Lavender and Neroli Essential Oil Blends for Sleep
To create a soothing scent that contributes to a good night sleep, combine 2 drops each of lavender and neroli essential oil with 1 cup of water in a small spray bottle. Gently shake to blend. Spray in the bedroom 5-10 minutes before going to sleep.
How to Use Essential Oils for Sleep
There are many ways you can use essential oils for relaxation and sleep. The most common forms include diffusion, topical application, personalized air freshener, or as a part of a therapeutic bath.
Add 2-4 drops of an essential oil of your choice into a diffuser for approximately 30 minutes in your bedroom before you go to sleep.
In the Bath
Add 5-10 drops of the desired essential oil into warm running bath water before getting in.
Mix 1 cup of water and 4-5 drops of essential oil in a spray bottle. Mist around your bedroom before going to sleep.
To use essential oils on feet for sleep add 2 drops of essential oil to 1 Tbsp. of carrier oil. Massage the mixture on the bottom of the feet in a circular motion until fully absorbed.
A simple way to enjoy the sedative properties of essential oils is to directly inhale the aroma from the bottle. Hold the bottle 1-2 inches away from your nose and take several deep breaths.
Scientific Research Referenced in this Article
- National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. (2012, February 22). Why Is Sleep Important? Retrieved May 2, 2017 from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sdd/why
- Mayo Clinic. (n.d.). Overview. Retrieved May 2, 2017 from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/home/ovc-20256955 – View reference
- Mayo Clinic. (n.d.). Symptoms and causes. Retrieved May 2, 2017 from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/symptoms-causes/dxc-20256961 – View reference
- Mayo Clinic. (n.d.). Self-management. Retrieved May 2, 2017 from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/manage/ptc-20257015 – View refrence
- Lytle, J., Mwatha, C., & Davis, k. k. (2014). Effect of lavender aromatherapy on vital signs and perceived quality of sleep in the intermediate care unit. A pilot study, 23(1), 24-29. doi: 4037/ajcc2014958
- National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. (2012, February 22). What makes you sleep? Retrieved May 4, 2017 from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sdd/whatmakes
- Çetinkaya, B., & Başbakkal, Z. (2012). The effectiveness of aromatherapy massage using lavender oil as a treatment for infantile colic. International Journal of Nurse Practitioners, 18(2), 164-9. doi: 1111/j.1440-172X.2012.02015.x.