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How can essential oils improve your sleep?

If you’re looking for a natural way to improve the quality of your sleep, essential oils could be the perfect solution. 

Essential oil's calm and relaxing aromas can help you to drift off and to stay asleep all night, leaving you feeling rested and refreshed.

Content/Quick links

  • How does aromatherapy help with sleep? 
  • Which essential oils help with sleep?
  • How to use essential oils to help you to sleep
  • Which essential oils should you avoid before sleep?
  • Is it safe to use essential oils for sleep? 
  • To sum up

How does aromatherapy help with sleep?

Scientists haven’t yet been able to work out why aromatherapy has such an impact on sleep. It’s thought that inhaling essential oils or absorbing them through your skin may help to activate the brain chemicals which are involved in controlling sleep.

Our sense of smell is connected directly to the brain’s centre for memories and emotions, otherwise known as the limbic system. As you inhale the aromas of essential oils, they are detected by cells inside the nose which send the information to the brain through the olfactory nerve. This information goes directly to the brain’s limbic system, where it has the ability to impact our emotional reactions and memories.

While scientific research on how aromatherapy affects sleep is still limited, many studies have shown essential oils to have a dramatic impact on relaxation whilst helping to encourage sound sleep.  

Which essential oils help with sleep? 

Many different essential oils have been shown to be effective at increasing duration and quality of sleep.

Studies have shown that essential oil blends can be more effective for aiding sleep than individual essential oils. You can try blending different essential oils together to create your perfect mix, or you can purchase a ready-made blend for convenience.

At volant, we have developed our own organic blend of essential oils called Sleep. This blend is a popular choice for customers who are looking for an aroma that helps them drift off into a peaceful and restful sleep. It is made with the most effective and well-known essential oils for sleep, including lavender, bergamot, frankincense and chamomile.

Besides our Sleep blend, we’ve handpicked some of our favourite essential oils that have relaxing, calming and sedative properties to help you to get a good night’s sleep.  

Lavender: The original scent for sleep

Lavender essential oil is the most well-known aromatherapy oil which is used for sleep and relaxation, especially in those suffering from insomnia or sleep deprivation. This floral-scented oil is often the first port of call when it comes to trying out aromatherapy for sleep.

The soothing scent of lavender oil has long been associated with relaxation and sleep. It helps you to fall into a deep sleep by triggering the release of melatonin to promote a healthy circadian rhythm. Lavender oil has also been found to lower your heart rate and blood pressure to aid relaxation.

Two of the common causes of sleep problems include anxiety and pain. As well as being great at relieving the symptoms of both stress and anxiety, studies have shown that lavender oil also has analgesic properties, meaning that it helps to reduce pain.

Lavender oil is also commonly used to reduce snoring whilst increasing the amount of both deep and REM sleep. If you want to fall asleep faster, stop waking up and get more sleep, it may be worth trying out lavender essential oil.  

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Frankincense: Sleep like royalty

Frankincense essential oil is proven to aid restful sleep by decreasing your levels of stress and anxiety. As your anxiety levels decrease, you’ll find yourself drifting into a peaceful sleep and awaken feeling rested and refreshed.

The grounding scent of frankincense oil is ideal if you struggle to calm your mind before sleep. As well as helping carry your worries away, frankincense also helps to open your breathing passages in preparation for a restful night. 

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Geranium: A luxurious scent to help you to drift off

If you enjoy a bit of luxury, you’ll love geranium essential oil. This rose-scented oil has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety thanks to its soothing aroma which acts as a natural antidepressant. This helps to calm both the body and the mind to promote restful sleep.

As well as helping you naturally relax into a restful sleep, the sedative effects that this essential oil generates can help you easily fall back to sleep if you wake in the night. This will leave you feeling rested and ready for the day ahead.

Geranium oil is also thought to be beneficial for sleep apnea. Massaging a few drops of geranium oil into your chest and neck before sleep can reduce sleep disruptions caused by sleep apnea. However, remember to dilute geranium oil with a carrier oil before applying it topically. 

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Bergamot: A citrus oil with a proven effect

Many citrus-based essential oils are renowned for their invigorating properties. However, bergamot essential oil is unique in its ability to induce the physiological changes required for sleep, including reducing heart rate and blood pressure.

This calming and uplifting essential oil also helps to reduce symptoms associated with stress and anxiety by reducing stress hormones and adrenaline, helping to clear your mind in preparation for a restful night of sleep.

Studies have shown that bergamot oil is highly effective in improving the quality of sleep, including reducing the number of wakings per night. So, if you’re looking to stop waking up overnight, bergamot may be the perfect essential oil for you.  

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Vanilla: Relaxing and uplifting

There aren’t many people who don’t enjoy the sweet scent of vanilla. It has a long history of use for relaxation and stress relief. In fact, vanilla is used by many to relieve the effects of anxiety and depression thanks to its uplifting and relaxing properties.

With a cosy and nostalgic aroma, vanilla essential oil is also known for its sedative effect on the body. It has the ability to reduce restlessness and hyperactivity in many people whilst calming the nervous system and reducing blood pressure.

If you’re looking to calm both your body and your mind, vanilla essential oil may be an ideal choice. 

Jasmine: Sweet dreams

The sweet floral aroma of jasmine has powerful sleep-promoting properties to help you to get a good night’s sleep, without the need for sleeping tablets.

Research has shown that jasmine improves sleep quality whilst increasing daytime alertness. In fact, researchers in Bochum, Germany found jasmine to be the most effective sleep remedy of all the essential oils tested. The strongest jasmine fragrance tested was found to be as effective on nervous system activity as prescription drugs such as Valium.

If you’re having trouble clearing your mind to sleep or finding yourself regularly waking through the night, jasmine could be the perfect essential oil for you.  

Roman chamomile: Hypnotic relaxation

Chamomile has been used for many years to induce sleep and relaxation. There’s a good chance that someone has suggested you drink a cup of chamomile tea when you can’t sleep, but inhalation can be even more effective.

Studies have proven chamomile essential oil to be effective at inducing sleep after inhalation, as well as reducing levels of stress hormones in the body. As well as calming anxiety and promoting sleep, chamomile also has the potential to reduce nightmares, allowing you to have a restful night.

Chamomile essential oil is also thought to improve sleep apnea. Thanks to its ability to aid relaxation and promote sound sleep, chamomile oil can help to soothe the
central nervous system, benefiting those suffering with central sleep apnea.

The benefits don’t end there. New mothers will also be pleased to discover that roman chamomile essential oil can also benefit their babies. Along with lavender oil, chamomile essential oil can help to relieve the symptoms of colic whilst helping your baby to sleep.  

Cedarwood: Deep serenity

With a deep, woody aroma, cedarwood essential oil evokes a sense of deep peace. Cedrol, a component found in cedarwood oil, acts as an effective sedative, helping you to drift off into a peaceful sleep.

A 2011 study on patients with dementia found that cedarwood increased the duration of sleep, along with reducing early morning waking. This means that cedarwood could be useful for treating occasional insomnia.

If you’re looking for an essential oil that will help you to fall asleep and leave you feeling refreshed in the morning, cedarwood essential oil may be right for you.  

How to use essential oils to help you to sleep

There are many different ways that you can use aromatherapy to help you get your beauty sleep, including using an aromatherapy diffuser, adding the essential oil to a warm bath, and making an aromatherapy pillow spray.

Here are just a few of the ways that you can use essential oils to help you to drift off to sleep and have a restful night.

Aromatherapy diffuser for sleep
An electric diffuser is probably the easiest way to use essential oils for sleep. Simply fill your diffuser with water, add a few drops of your chosen essential oil and switch it on.

It’s best to turn your diffuser on at least thirty minutes before you go to bed. For increased impact, try meditating in your bedroom with your diffuser on before you try to fall asleep. This will increase your relaxation, clearing your mind and helping you to drift off peacefully.

If you use a diffuser to fall asleep, you should use a timer switch to set it to turn off automatically after a few hours.

Aromatherapy bath for sleep
Hot water is very effective at promoting sleep whilst helping you to relax. Combine this with the benefits of essential oils and you’ll discover the full effects of an aromatherapy bath.

Mix your chosen essential oils with a carrier oil such as sweet almond, jojoba or coconut oil and then swirl the mixture into your warm bath. If you don’t have any carrier oil on hand, you can mix your essential oil with two tablespoons of full-fat milk. This will enable the essential oil to disperse effectively throughout the water.

Pillow spray for sleep
You can create your own pillow mist using a clean, empty spray bottle. Simply fill your spray bottle with warm water and add a few drops of your chosen essential oils. Start with just a few drops – you can always add more if you want a stronger aroma.

Spritz your essential oil spray around your room or lightly over your bedding. If you decide to spray your pillow, it’s recommended to spray the underside of the pillow to prevent any skin irritation.

Aromatherapy massage for sleep
An aromatherapy massage is a great way to prepare for a restful night of sleep. If you’ve got a partner, you can ask them to get involved in giving you an aromatherapy massage. Otherwise, you can self-massage.

Many people also find it soothing to apply essential oils to their pressure points such as on the wrists or behind the ears. This will also provide a long-lasting aroma through the night to support a peaceful night’s sleep.

Essential oils in their undiluted form are very concentrated and intense, so you should never apply undiluted essential oils directly to your skin. To avoid skin irritation when using essential oils, you should first mix your chosen oil with a carrier oil such as jojoba oil, sweet almond oil or avocado oil.  

Which essential oils should you avoid before sleep?

There are some essential oils that you should avoid before going to bed. These essential oils have been found to increase alertness, making it more difficult for you to fall asleep.

Many of the citrus-based oils (except for bergamot) increase alertness. This includes grapefruit, sweet orange and lemon essential oils. These oils are great for giving you energy and focus. This makes them perfect to wake up to in the morning but not so great at bedtime.

Rosemary oil is also a stimulant. This aromatic essential oil increases blood pressure, heart rate and respiratory rate – exactly what you don’t need when you’re trying to get to sleep.

Another essential oil which can prevent you from sleeping is sandalwood. Whilst some people find that sandalwood can aid sleep, others find the aroma stimulating. Some studies have shown that sandalwood oil can elevate both your pulse rate and your blood pressure, increasing your levels of alertness.  

Is it safe to use essential oils for sleep?

Although aromatherapy is a natural therapy, there are a few safety guidelines you should be aware of when you’re using essential oils.

Like anything, some people may experience an allergic reaction to essential oils. If you experience any symptoms of an allergic reaction, you should stop using the essential oil immediately and contact your medical provider.

As essential oils are extremely potent, you should always mix them with a carrier oil before applying them to your skin. It’s also important to do a patch test to check for skin irritation before using the oil more liberally.

If you are pregnant, breastfeeding or have a health condition, you should talk to your health provider before using essential oils, as some oils may not be compatible with certain health conditions.  

To sum up

Aroma suitability and preferences are very individual and subjective, and everyone will react differently to each scent. As you begin to use each essential oil, pay close attention to how you feel. The right scents for your sleep are the ones that make you feel relaxed and happy.

It may take a bit of experimenting before you find the right essential oil for your bedtime routine. If an aroma makes you feel awake and alert, it isn’t the right one for sleep. However, it could be useful to help you to wake up in the morning.

If you have any questions about using essential oils for sleep or tips on aromatherapy, you can contact an aroma expert at:

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"I received my Terracotta Volant right after Christmas and it has been routinely used! I love the smell of the oils and have learned to balance to strength for me and my family. I recommend it to anyone who loves essential oils." Robert S.
"Perfect for meditation, especially Geranium. And Grapefruit for yoga." Cathy S.
"Easy to switch between subscription products, have tested 5 oils. Very satisfied" Mary H.
"I love getting essential oils in my post box every month, cool recipes by mail as well" Johan J.
"Been looking for essential oils for aromatherapy, these oils give me a boost" Svetlana W.
"I purchesed Volant diffuser, and I am obsessed with it! I am using it every day and I feel super satisfied. Excellent experience." Agnieszka S.
"Struggled to fall asleep before, the blend Sleep has changed that" Chloe L.

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