Essential Oils and Sleep – Are you Having Trouble Sleeping?

essential oils and sleep

Are you one of those people that find it difficult to get to sleep and stay asleep? If your answer is yes then you are among the 30-40% of the adult population that suffers the symptoms of insomnia. I think we all experience some trouble sleeping at some point. For most of us, life is busy, sometimes stressful and settling down to sleep can be difficult.

There are numerous things we can change in our lives to promote a better sleep. Small changes in our lifestyles can help our bodies to settle at night. For me, I use essential oils and sleep well. I diffuse Clary Sage or Lavender most nights to help me drift off.

Before We Talk About Essential Oils, Let’s Look at Some Other Things…

Alcohol If you like a drink with dinner that’s great but maybe stop there. Any alcohol intake within 3 hours of going to bed can disturb your sleep.

Medication Some medications such as over the counter painkillers can contain caffeine, always check the labels! If you take any prescribed medications, read about the side effects and if needed, talk to your doctor. Perhaps there are other options if the meds you take are keeping you awake.

Room Temperature Is it too hot, too cold? The ideal room temperature is somewhere between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit (15-20 Celsius)

Exercising to close to bedtime Generally speaking, exercise warms the body up and wakes up the brain thus making it hard to settle. For some people this is not helpful for a good nights sleep. For others, it works for them. Try to exercise 4-6 hours before you go to bed…..this is not always practical for some of us.

Not Enough Exercise Try to do a little exercise every day, even for a few minutes.

Eating too much, too late Have your dinner at least three hours before you go to bed.

Too much screen time/ light before bed I always watch a little sit com or something lighthearted before bed. I have heard however, that the blue light that most screens radiate make our brains think that it is still daytime and does not produce enough melatonin ( the hormone our body needs to relax and go to sleep). It is also a good idea to get rid of as much of the light in your room as possible. Your brain senses the light even when you are sleeping. On the subject of light, turn down the lights in your home about an hour before you go to sleep this will signal your brain to start producing melatonin.

You are Stressed This is the number one cause of sleep disturbance. We get caught up in endless thoughts about our troubles and what we have to do. If you find that this sounds like you then try these couple of ideas.

  • Instead of lying awake in bed and overthinking, get up and do something calm and relaxing until you feel trying to sleep again.
    You could try some meditation (try a guided body scan, google it!)
  • Make a list. I know it may sound corny to some people but it works. I do this myself. I make a list of the things I need to do then I don’t have to keep thinking about them. If I wake up with a thought, I can jot it down on my list,  I know it will be taken care of and I can get back to sleeping.

You’re looking at the clock too much Clock watching is common and doesn’t help. Turn your clock around.

You don’t have a consistent sleep pattern If you get up and go to bed at different times every day and if you nap regularly then this could be part of the problem. Unfortunately, our schedules are determined by many factors and this might be something you can’t change. You still may be able to make it better though. Try some aromatherapy!

Too much caffeine It is advised to keep the coffee drinking to the morning. Watch out for other foods that may have caffeine as well.

After reading the above list perhaps you noticed a thing or two that you can change. We can’t change everything in our lives but even the smallest change can make a big difference.

As I mentioned, I use Aromatherapy to help me fall asleep. I have found that essential oils and sleep, go together nicely!

How Does Aromatherapy Work?

Aromatherapy is a complementary and alternative medicine. Let’s talk a little science to get a better understanding about how this works.

essential oils and sleep

Ok, we have an olfactory nerve in our nose and its job is to send information (related to smell) to different parts of our brain. Two of the places this information gets sent to are the limbic system and the amygdala (these places are in charge of our memory, mood, emotions and regulating our autonomic nervous system). Part of the autonomic nervous system is the parasympathetic nervous system (sometimes called the rest and digest system) which can be triggered to relax and calm down using aromatherapy. Fantastic! Why aren’t more people utilizing essential oils?

Essential Oils that Promote a Better Sleep

Lavender
– the aroma can be light, fresh and floral
-probably most popular EO for sleep
-calms the nervous system
-lowers blood pressure, heart rate and skin temperature
-changes brain waves to a more relaxed state

Bergamot
– smells like citrus-like, sweet and spicy
-studies show its relieves anxiety and tension
-known to reduce heart rate and blood pressure
-reduces stress

Ylang Ylang
-sweet floral smell
– has calming effect on the nervous system
-lowers heart rate and blood pressure
-relaxant

Clary sage – my favourite oil
– it has an herbaceous scent that smells like lavender with leathery and amber nuances
– relaxing qualities
– boosts mental strength and confidence
– alleviates feelings anxiety and failure
– has euphoric properties, creates feelings of ease and joy

Jasmine
-sweet aroma
-relaxing effects
-can have positive effects on a number of things including heart rate, stress response and blood pressure

Roman Chamomile
– sweet apple-like smell
– may reduce nightmares
-relieves depression and anxiety
– soothes muscles

Sandalwood
-smells woodsy, spicy, earthy
– mood balancer
– grounds the mind
-promotes mental clarity
– often used in meditation and other spiritual rituals

There are many essential oils that can help you settle and sleep. In addition to the single oils many blends have been created as well. There are lots of options to choose from. So, if you find you do not like a certain aroma then keep testing and trying new ones until you find the right one for you.

Various Ways to Use EOs for Sleep

Diffusers If you want to diffuse EOs in your home you will need a diffuser. They come in different sizes and shapes and colors. They have diffusers for your car and even some that can be carried in your pocket. Some have different settings for different timings and night lights. There are techy ones that have speakers and can be controlled with your phone. That’s kind of cool and fun!

I am using a Saje ultrasonic diffuser at the moment and I love it. It comes with optional night light and two time settings to choice from.

Topical Application Another way to use essential oils before bed is to apply them topically. Apply to bottoms of feet, behind the knees, behind the ears, wrists or back of neck. ALWAYS be sure to dilute your EOs with a carrier oil if you choose to use them in this way.

Skin Cream with essential oils Cream for your skin is another way to use essential oils before bed. Not only will you sleep better but your skin will feel great too.

Room Spray Room Sprays with calming essential oils are also available. Just give the room a few sprays before crawling into bed and relax.

Pillow and linen sprays There are sprays for your pillow and bed….sounds easy right!


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In Conclusion

I hope this article has been helpful and given you some ideas. Remember that even small changes can make a big difference. If you suffer from lack of sleep then I encourage you to have a good look at the things we discussed above and change what you can. We all need our sleep to have happier, more productive lives. Adding aromatherapy to your sleep routine is an easy thing to do and just might be the answer you are looking for.

Please note that essential oils are potent, always read the labels and do a patch test if you are concerned about allergies.

If you have any comments about this article I would love to hear from you. Have a wonderful day!

Angela (founder of Your Aromatherapy Store)

I would like to remind you that essential oils are very POTENT and should be used with common sense and caution. Always read the labels.
If you are currently taking any prescribed medication it is recommended that you speak to your doctor before using essential oils.If you are concerned about allergies, you may want to perform a patch test on your skin.
It is also good to be aware that some essential oils are photo toxic. Avoid the sun as necessary when using these oils.
Please know that some oils are not recommended if you are pregnant or nursing.Essential oils are considered “complementary and alternative medicines” and are not always a substitute for professional medical intervention and advice. If you are experiencing severe physical or mental illness it is best to contact a medical professional.

Is it Safe to Ingest Essential Oils? – Yes, but be smart about it!


You Have Probably Ingested Them Already!

Is it safe to ingest essential oils? Have you ever done it? If you think you have never ingested EOs, you are likely mistaken. I have learned that many of the foods we eat contain these oils, just check out the ingredient list on some of your favorite foods. Of course, the amount of EOs added to our foods for flavor are minuscule. Nevertheless, I believe, it is safe to say that most people have consumed EOs, whether you knew it or not.

Doctors in Europe, India and Asia prescribe the ingestion of Essential Oils to manage health issues and they have been doing this for thousands of years. It also said that people in the United States and North America tend to shy away from this practice because essential oils are less well-known.

So, is it safe to start ingesting them? The answer seems to be yes and no.

Picture of a colorful question mark.

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First and Foremost

The key thing to remember is that EOs are EXTREMELY POTENT CONCENTRATED PLANT ENERGY. Take a look at the following information to see how much of the original plant it takes to produce only one pound of the EO.

  •  1500 lemons to yield one pound of lemon EO
  •  256 pounds of peppermint leaf to make one pound of peppermint EO
  •  10,000 pounds of rose petals yields one pound of rose EO
  •  250 pounds of lavender yields one pound of lavender EO
  •  6,000 pounds of melissa plant (commonly known as lemon balm) yields one pound of melissa EO

This is pretty amazing isn’t it? As you can see, it takes an enormous amount of the original plant to produce small quantities of essential oil.

Yes, Some People Ingest Essential Oils

Yes, it seems some people do consume essential oils. Examples of edible oils may include orange, ginger, chamomile, lemon, cocoa and turmeric, just to name a few.

Some things to consider if you decide to do so. Make sure you choose the purest, most organic and steam distilled oils. It is best if the bottle states it is meant for food consumption. Lots of oils produced are not intended for oral consumption. They may contain other ingredients that would not hurt you if used in a diffuser or topically applied but may be harmful if taken internally.

So, again, yes, it seems that we can use EOs in our food. From what I have figured out, it is very difficult to measure such a small amount of oil with our common household measuring devices. If we measure improperly (use too much), we run the risk of injury due to the high potency. Also, one should be sure the oils they intend to use are deemed “food grade”.

During my research it was quite clear to me that there are differing opinions whether we should consume EOs. I saw articles that were 100% against it. There were articles that were totally for it and have no problem with it. I even saw Cook Books related to Essential Oils.

Some Oils Should Never Be Ingested

A sign that says CAUTION.

It does make sense to me that some Essential Oils could be taken internally if they could be properly measured and contained no impurities. There are some EOs that should NOT be ingested. As I was researching, I came across a few examples of oils that would fall into that category. They are:

  • Birch
  • Cedarwood
  • Eucalyptus
  • White Fir
  • Wintergreen

This list is not conclusive in any way. Always do your homework and find out what is safe and what is not.

In Conclusion

It was quite interesting studying this topic. I sure noticed varying opinions regarding the safety of ingesting EOs. Another thing to consider is how the government regulates and approves the use of essential oils for humans. I live in Canada and as far as can tell, our government has approved the marketing of essential oils for aromatherapy and topical application.

Well, it seems that EOs can be used internally. It does make sense that they could be, after all, they are plant material. If you do plan to cook with EOs then please take good care when doing so. Follow the suggestions above and/or do some investigating of your own.

If you plan to take an EO as an internal medicine, it would be a very good idea to check with a certified medical professional.

I will be completely honest with you, I have never cooked with or taken an essential oil internally. I do love using EOs in my diffuser and occasionally topically. I believe the western world is slowly becoming more aware of the usages of EOs and how they can certainly benefit us.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Please feel free to leave a comment if you like. I enjoy learning and would love to hear what you have to say.

Angela (founder of Your Aromatherapy Store)

I would like to remind you that essential oils are very POTENT and should be used with common sense and caution. Always read the labels. If you are currently taking any prescribed medication it is recommended that you speak to your doctor before using essential oils.
If you are concerned about allergies, you may want to perform a patch test on your skin.
It is also good to be aware that some essential oils are photo toxic. Avoid the sun as necessary when using these oils.
Please know that some oils are not recommended if you are pregnant or nursing. Essential oils are considered “complementary and alternative medicines” and are not always a substitute for professional medical intervention and advice. If you are experiencing severe physical or mental illness it is best to contact a medical professional.