Sleep is essential for a person’s health and well-being. It’s one of those things you don’t think much about when you are well-rested but when sleep is illusive, it takes a huge toll on our bodies, minds and spirit.
Studies have found that even moderate amounts of sleep deprivation can result in cognitive impairment on par with being drunk. To function at our top mental and physical capabilities and to encourage the proper cellular renewal to keep ourselves looking and feeling youthful, we need good, restorative sleep. However, according the Centers for Disease Control, one out of every three adults are not clocking in enough sleep.
No matter what’s keeping you tossing and turning, there are certain essential oils and holistic wellness practices that can help get you into a calm, relaxed state of mind and send internal signals that it’s time for light’s out.
What are Essential Oils?
Simply stated, Essential oils are the product of distilling seeds, leaves, branches, bark, roots, berries, flowers, sap, needles, and peels of natural botanical materials.
But what makes them so “essential?”
In traditional holistic and spiritual circles, the oil that is produced during this distillation process is the plant’s soul or essence. That’s why essential oils offer unique benefits for the physical body as well as the spirit. We mostly experience these properties through their aromatic qualities.
Source Vitál Apothecary’s Philosophy
At Source Vitál Apothecary, we look to nature for inspiration for our skin care, body care and aromatherapy solutions. To begin, we use three main elements: marine seaweeds, whole plant botanicals and 100% pure essential oils, which are the soul of our holistic philosophy.
Aromatherapy, the art and science of using essential oils for therapeutic uses, has been used for hundreds of thousands of years. It is a form of alternative medicine that relies on the powerful sense of smell. Through the use of essential oils, we are truly able to connect the body with the mind and spirit.
Essentials Oils for Sleep
Choosing scents that promote relaxation can help get our bodies into a restful state ready for sleep. Essential oils also just smell nice and can be a pleasant way to enhance the sleeping experience. Making essential oils part of your bedtime routine can help train your mind to associate a specific scent with falling asleep.
Certain scents can be used to facilitate sleep and relieve the nervous feelings that can lead to insomnia. Here are a few of our favorite essential oils for sleep:
Lavender is the most versatile of all essential oils. Consider lavender the supreme leader of all essential oils for it’s many benefits, lovely smell and universal appeal. Among one of its finest properties is the ability to calm and soothe. Many studies have revealed the calming effects of lavender aromatherapy.
Lavender’s ability to encourage the feeling of calm allows the rest of the body to also trigger sensations that lead to a tranquil state such as a lowered blood pressure, heart rate, nervous system and skin temperature. All of these processes also take place during the body’s natural transition to sleep. It can reduce feelings of anxiety by signaling your brain waves to get into a more relaxing state.
Rich in linalool and linalyl acetate, compounds that have well-known relaxation properties, lavender essential oil is your one stop to a great night’s sleep. Use a few drops of lavender essential oil directly on your pillow at night before bed to calm the mind.
Like many citrus oils, just inhaling bergamot essential oil gives you a feeling of calm with its happy, uplifting aroma. Proven by research to be a top solution for calming nervous energy, bergamot can help stop those restless thoughts that keep you awake at night.
Bergamot essential oil both induces the physiological changes that come with sleep, such as reduced heart rate and blood pressure, as well as calming the senses. Place a few drops on a cotton ball and inhale to lift your spirits and promote happiness and peace.
Valerian root essential oil is used for its grounding and balancing properties. It is incredibly helpful for stress and anxiety and blends well with other oils. When you are grounded and secure you are better able to get yourself in wind down mode.
Valerian Root is a common ingredient in many sleepytime or bedtime herbal teas. The essential oil contains valerenic acid that produces sedating effects that improve sleep quality.
One caution when using valerian root. It has a very strong, earthy smell which many people do not find pleasant. It would be best to use it with other essential oils, such as those mentioned in this article, and in very small quantities. The scent of Valerian root is so strong just opening the bottle can permeate a room – user beware!
If you dare, mix a few drops in a bath before heading to bed to calm your mind, soothe your muscles and detox your emotions for a sweet dreams.
This essential oil has a long history as a folk remedy for everything from stress to nausea. Soldiers were said to have used the oil to enhance mental clarity and promote courage while on the battlefield.
Roman Chamomile is used in aromatherapy for its soothing abilities and to encourage restful sleep. While there are several types of chamomile, Roman chamomile essential oil is the best for relieving the feelings on anxiety that come from insomnia. It has also been shown to reduce nightmares as well.
Besides promoting a restful night’s sleep, essential oils can also help care for symptoms of sleep apnea and snoring. When dealing with allergies or experiencing congestion from an illness, one’s airways gets blocked up which can lead to snoring.
Eucalyptus peppermint (or any form of Eucalyptus essential oil) can help promote easy breathing. This oil can reduce the discomfort of inflammation and provide a sensation of clear nasal airways. Gently rub a few drops diluted in a carrier oil on the bottom or inside part of the nose to discourage snoring and congestion.
There are a few ways to incorporate essential oils into your bedtime routine.
Diffusion is definitely the most effective approach to aromatherapy. A diffuser disperses the essential oils through the air, which is an easy way to enjoy environmental scenting while breathing in the beneficial properties of the oil. Just put a few drops of any of the essential oils mentioned above in your diffuser before you go to bed. Not only is this method great to calm emotions, relax the mind or relieve tensions, it also helps get rid of odors and clean the air in your home.
Perhaps the easiest way to experience essential oils, inhaling essential oils allows the constituents to enter through the nose and reach the central nervous system with ease. Simply remove the cap and waft under the nose, inhaling deeply for multiple breaths.
Another method of inhalation is with steam. Merely heat up some water and place in a bowl. Add a few drops of essential oils to the bowl and cover your head and face with a cloth and inhale the steam. This is an effective method that can help soothe coughs, respiratory issues and sinus infections.
Another effective practice is to simply apply these essential oils over certain parts of the body, such as trigger points, which include the bottoms of the feet, the wrists, behind the knees and ears and on the back of the neck. Topical application of essential oils can be especially beneficial since the oils will penetrate into your skin due to their transdermal properties. Not only will you smell them, they also will enter the bloodstream more quickly. Just remember essential oils are very potent and must be diluted in a carrier oil, lotion or cream before applying topically.
It is important to always take the proper precautions when handling essential oils. They can be extremely powerful. Always read any warning labels before using an oil. Also, make sure to use 100% pure and natural oils, free from any chemicals, pesticides, parabens, synthetic perfumes or fillers. Remember, the potency of essential oils make it important to be mindful of essential oil dosage.
A little bit goes a long way. Some essential oils are highly concentrated and can have harmful effects if used in abundance.
Here are some standard guidelines for working with essential oils to keep you and your family safe:
- Avoid direct contact with the eyes.
- Do not apply essential oils direct to skin. Dilute in unscented cream/lotion/oil.
- For external use only. Do not ingest oils.
- If you are pregnant, epileptic, have cancer, have liver issues, or any other serious illness, consult a medical professional prior to using essential oils.
- Always keep essential oils out of reach of children.
- And, keep oils tightly closed and in room temperature or cooler location