Essential oils are one of the best natural sleep remedies. If you’ve been researching for ways to fall asleep faster, and wake up feeling well-rested, odds are you’ve seen a few things about essential oils.
Instead of writing it off as something else that won’t work, give it a try! There are tons of raving reviews online of people saying how much essential oils have helped them achieve a good night’s sleep.
What Are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are compounds extracted from plants, giving off a strong aroma. The “essential” part means “in essence of,” meaning the oils contain the essence of each plant.
Machines are used to remove plant extract, which is then combined with a carrier oil and bottled for consumer use. Though the extracts are already in oil, they’re still highly concentrated and some might still need to be mixed with a carrier oil before being used topically, but I’ll give more detail on that later.
Why the connection between essential oils and sleeping better? The effects of essential oils on sleep and relaxation have been studied countless times. A recent study, conducted in 2013, looked at the use of essential oils in ICU patients, and compared stress and anxiety levels of patients receiving aromatherapy to those with traditional nursing care. The patients using essential oils showed significantly less stress — they were administered a blend of lavender, roman chamomile and neroli.
Best Essential Oils for Sleep
All of the essential oils good for sleep help in different ways. For example, some might help you achieve deeper sleep, while others relieve anxiety and stress, making it easier to relax and fall asleep.
Lavender is by far the best essential oil for sleep. Almost everyone who’s tried using essential oils for sleep agree that lavender helped them the most.
A writer for Elite Daily chronicled her experience trying five different essential oils to help her sleep and, while some had light affects on her sleep, lavender oil helped her achieve a deep sleep, and it was the most well-rested she’d felt in months.
While using lavender oil won’t immediately knock you out cold, studies have shown it reduces blood pressure and heart rate, allowing users to feel relaxed, and therefore fall asleep easier.
Frankincense essential oil tends to be a bit on the more expensive side, but that’s because its properties are said to do more than just help you sleep. It’s also believed to be able to reduce pain, inflammation, anxiety and stress.
A 2016 study confirmed the use of frankincense oil as an anti-inflammatory, and it even showed to help with digestive issues. If you’re having trouble sleeping due to pain or an upset stomach, frankincense is the best essential oil to turn to.
Cedarwood essential oil has a nice, calming woodsy scent. Cedarwood stimulates your pineal gland, which is responsible for releasing the sleep-inducing melatonin. It can be effective on it’s own, but some people report it’s even better when mixed with lavender.
The Military Mom recommends blending cedarwood with lavender, applying it to the bottom of your feet, putting socks on and falling into a blissful sleep. She also loves using essential oil to help her kids relax, whether they had a nightmare or feel too energetic to sleep. A few redditors agree that diffusing a blend of lavender and cedarwood before bed helps them sleep.
Besides lavender, this one is probably the most recognizable on the list. While you might have heard that chamomile tea helps you sleep, roman chamomile essential oil is much more effective.
A 2006 study looked at the effectiveness of inhaling roman chamomile and sleep. Participants exposed to the essential oil felt more drowsy and calm than those who didn’t, meaning aromatherapy with this oil will definitely put you in a relaxed state.
Valerian root is a pretty widely known proponent that helps with sleep and anxiety. I’ve talked about drinking valerian root tea as a natural sleep remedy, but using the essential oil can be just as effective. Valerian root calms the central nervous system by enhancing GABA production in the brain, which is a chemical that relaxes your body.
Ylang Ylang essential oil has a much different scent than the rest in this list — it’s bright a floral, which isn’t something everyone finds relaxing. Though it’s not as traditional as other essential oils, Ylang Ylang will help you relax and unwind from the day.
While it’s good on its own, Ylang Ylang might be best mixed with other essential oils, such as lavender or cedarwood, to create a calming blend.
How to Use Essential Oils for Sleep
Now that we’ve covered the best essential oils for sleep, it’s important to know how to actually use them. There are two main ways: topical and aromatic.
Topical use means physically applying the essential oil somewhere on your body. It’s important to make sure you’ve purchased a high quality oil before putting anything on your skin — look for brands that are certified therapeutic grade, or hold their production to a high standard.
Before applying the essential oil, dilute it with a carrier oil, such as coconut or jojoba, in equal parts. Mix it together, them rub it on either the back of your neck, inside of your wrists or the bottom of your feet. Topical use can be a bit stronger than aromatic, simply because your body is absorbing the natural properties of the oil rather than just smelling it.
Pro tip: rubbing essential oils on the bottom of your feet is best for sleep.
Aromatic use doesn’t involve applying it to your body, instead it’s all about inhaling the calming scents. There are a few ways to use essential oils aromatically. The easiest one is to invest in an oil diffuser, which uses water and a few drops of the oil of your choice to spread the oil’s scent through whatever room it’s in.
A few other ways to enjoy oils aromatically is to drop a few drops onto your pillow, or onto a tissue and place it under your pillow. You could also put a few drops into the palm of your hand, rub your hands together, cup them over your nose and inhale deeply.
How will you use essential oils? Have any of these helped you get better sleep?