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.
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
– 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
– smells like citrus-like, sweet and spicy
-studies show its relieves anxiety and tension
-known to reduce heart rate and blood pressure
-sweet floral smell
– has calming effect on the nervous system
-lowers heart rate and blood pressure
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
-can have positive effects on a number of things including heart rate, stress response and blood pressure
– sweet apple-like smell
– may reduce nightmares
-relieves depression and anxiety
– soothes muscles
-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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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.