Having trouble getting to sleep and then sleeping well throughout the night? Implement an aromatherapy ritual into your nightly before bed routine. Here’s the scoop on how using essential oils can help with getting a good night’s sleep:
In real terms there has been very little study done into the effects of aromatherapy, though it has been used for thousands of years. We can trace its history back to a large number of ancient civilizations, including India, Egypt, Greece, as well as the Romans and the Chinese.
Since distillation was invented in the 11th century, distilled essential oils have been used as a form of medicine.
There are a number of applications when it comes to aromatherapy: it can be used topically in massages, skin care, baths, and compresses; some can be inhaled directly as a decongestant, and others can be used for aerial diffusion, to enhance the environment. Aromatherapy stimulates the smell receptors located in your nose and sends messages to a part of your brain that controls emotions- the limbic system, via the nervous system.
The Mayo Clinic has reviewed the studies that have been completed, though, and they have found there may indeed be health benefits. Including, but not limited to, anxiety and depression relief and for people with chronic health conditions an improved quality of life. There have been studies on just lavender oil, which have shown that it can reduce the pain of a needle prick for people that were receiving dialysis, in addition to improving sleep for hospitalized patients.
Michael Breus, PHD is a sleep specialist and explains to WebMD how some scents create a mood of relaxation more than others do, which can lead to sleep easier.
Perhaps the most well known essential oil for improved sleep, and relaxation, is lavender. As discussed in this study by the University of Maryland it was a French chemist that applied lavender to treat a burn he had received after a minor lab explosion.
This led to further research and by World War 1, essential oils were being used to treat soldiers. It was that French chemist, Rene-Maurice Gattefosse that founded the science of aromatherapy.
Lavender is widely known for its use in reducing anxiety, and calming, which is excellent for lulling a person to sleep. Mandarin has wonderful calming effects and is ideal for a blend with lavender.
Another essential oil that can serve that purpose is patchouli, relieves symptoms of depression, and aids the anti-inflammatory and the nervous system, which can calm your mind. Clary Sage can relieve menstrual cramps, while also serving as a relaxant aid that relieves anxiety and stress.
While there are plenty of “aromatherapy” products on the market, ranging from candles to lotions, the majority of them do not actually contain true essential oils. They instead rely on a fragrance that doesn’t offer the same benefits as the genuine article.
Essential oils should never be applied directly to the skin without being diluted with a carrier oil. This can lead to skin irritations, so perhaps the most effective method would be to use your preferred oil in a diffuser to ensure you receive the full effects.
There are a number of electric diffusers, which you can set to a particular level, as well as on a timer. It’s a safer option than burning oil and allows you to relax in bed and take in the scents as you nod off.
Some essential oils can counteract particular medications, so if you are on any medications or have any chronic illnesses it is best to check whether a specific oil is appropriate for you.
The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy is a wonderful resource to rely on for finding a qualified aroma-therapist in your area. There is also a section discussing the most commonly used essential oils, and any drug interactions that could occur during use.