5 Essential Oils for a good night's sleep
How did you sleep last night?
As you probably already know, getting enough sleep is a priority for our health and well-being. Worryingly, a surveys taken in 2017 revealed that two thirds (38%) of UK adults suffer from disrupted sleep and nearly a quarter (23%) manage no more than five hours a night. Sadly these results are mirrored across the world.
The guideline is that we should all be sleeping for between seven and nine hours each night for optimum health and wellbeing. But, a National Sleep Foundation survey found the average adult in the UK is getting just six hours and 49 minutes sleep. US adults sleep for six hours and 31 minutes on average, and in Japan the number is only six hours and 22 minutes.
There’s no escaping from the fact that we all live caffeinated and overstimulated lifestyles with a bit too much screen time for our own good. All of which can play havoc with our sleep, health and wellbeing.
As well as sapping our energy and making us feel overtired and/or moody, lack of sleep can impact on our ability to concentrate during the day and cause brain fog or temporary memory loss. Not the best way to go about putting in a good day’s work and hitting those goals you set at the beginning of the year!
More seriously, recent scientific evidence supports the NHS warning that sleep habits and insomnia can lead to various health issues.
What are our options – what can help?
Instead of turning to harsh prescription medication out of desperation, why not give a natural alternative a try?
Aromatherapy could well be the answer to all your dreams.
What is Aromatherapy
Cultures around the world have used Aromatherapy for thousands of years as traditional natural remedies to enhance health, wellbeing, spiritual rituals and personal use.
Aromatherapy is the use of highly concentrated essences which have been extracted from plants and flowers (essential oils). These essences contain powerful therapeutic properties.
I agree these are bold claims, but their ability to restore balance to the mind body and spirit have been the subject of numerous studies and scientifically proven.
Handle with care
Essential oils should be used in tiny amounts (drops) and should be diluted before use in either a base/carrier oil or water/steam. Follow the usage guidance on the bottle and, to be on the safe side, it’s probably best to do a 24-hour patch test if you have very sensitive skin. Pregnant women should take extra care.
How to use essential oils
There are lots of ways you can use essential oils to help with our sleep including my top 7:
A long languishing soak in a luxurious aromatherapy bath
A hand, foot or body massage
Dispersing in the air with a room spray
Using bath and bodycare products infused with essential oils
Using a diffuser, vaporiser or oil burner
Why not give therapeutic grade essential oils a try for good night's sleep and start your day feeling refreshed and energised?
Top 5 Essential Oils for a good night's sleep
Amyris (Amyris balsamifera) essential oil is derived from a tree commonly known as West Indian Sandalwood which is native to the Caribbean. Unusually, this oil is extracted from fallen tree bark, by the steam distillation method.
The resulting oil smells slightly sweet and vanilla-like bolstered with rich and warming woody notes.
Amyris essential oil can improve sleep quality:
How to use:
Use it in a steam inhaler - simply boil a kettle, add 2-5 drops of the oil to a bowl. Leave to cool for 5 minutes and then lean over the bowl and place a towel over your head to enclose the vapours. Close your eyes and breathe deeply for about 10 minutes or until all the steam has dissipated. (This method will double up as a facial treatment) as this antioxidant-rich oil is excellent for hydrating dry skin.
Or just put a few drops into an oil diffuser before bedtime, to calm your mind, reduce anxiety and ease the tension in your muscles. This combo will help your body to relax and fall into a deep, uninterrupted sleep.
Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) is a tropical citrus fruit of a hybrid tree (a cross between a lemon and orange/lime tree). The powerful sweet and slightly spicy aroma makes it a popular choice of perfumers who often use it as the “top note” and fixative in their blends.
Did you know that Bergamot is also the distinctive flavour and fragrance of Earl Gray Tea?
Studies have shown that when bergamot essential oil is used in aromatherapy, it can relieve anxiety, reduce stress and calm your body:
How to use
Try a steamy aromatherapy shower by adding 5-8 drops on a warm damp cotton flannel and hanging it up close to the shower head so the oils infuse the steam. Breathe deeply and inhale the steam while showering.
For a natural and relaxing air fresher, try this room spray recipe:
100ml glass bottle with a spray atomiser
6 drops Bergamot essential
6 drops Frankincense essential oil
12 drops Lavender essential oils
50ml distilled water
Pour the vodka into your bottle (this acts an emulsifier and will help the essential oils and water mix together.
Add the essential oils.
Top up with the water and shake again.
Give the bottle a little shake before each use so everything is well blended.
Spray around your bedroom and spritz your bedding with this alchemy blend before bedtime.
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is arguably the top essential oil for inducing sleep as it’s made up of deeply relaxing compounds. Several studies have found Lavender essential oil to be effective in relieving anxiety, improving sleep quality and treating insomnia. In a 2015 study, the women using lavender oil showed improvement in sleep quality compared to the women in the control group.
Lavender is one of the few essential oils gentle enough to use directly on the skin. A couple of dabs on the inside of your wrists, neck or chest is all you’ll need before bedtime.
How to use:
Add to your bath water: This is the ideal way to use aromatherapy’s relaxation and sleep benefits while simultaneously taking advantage of the sleep-inducing effects of soaking your body in warm water.
Add 5-8 drops of lavender oil to a tablespoon of sunflower oil which is a light base oil containing waxes which act as a natural emulsifier. As well as moisturising your skin, this will help the essential oil to disperse in the water.
Or mix a few drops with fractionated coconut oil for a relaxing body or foot massage before bedtime.
Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata) pronounced ee-long ee-long is a beautiful aromatic floral essential oil extracted from the flowers of the large, tropical Ylang Ylang tree. It’s not the cheapest essential oil out there, but the price is well worth it as it smells divine!
With natural sedative compounds, Ylang Ylang can help with stress and anxiety by lowering a fast heartbeat and blood pressure, helping you to drift off quickly.
How to use:
If like me you get the jitters before a job interview or doing a presentation, sprinkle 2 drops of Ylang Ylang and 2 drops of Bergamot on to a cotton handkerchief or tissue and inhale to calm your nerves and boost confidence.
You can also use this method at bedtime to help with sleep by tucking the handkerchief/tissue into your pillowcase.
Sweet Orange (Citrus aurantium dulcis) essential oil is derived from orange peel. Remember the familiar aroma of the mist which fills the air when you start to peel an orange? That’s orange essential oil.
The compounds found in sweet orange essential oil can lift the spirit, calm the body and soothe the mind.
Orange peel is abundant in the powerful antioxidant d-limonene which can also help with maintaining normal cellular regeneration. Research has also shown that this oil is effective in lowering anxiety and blood pressure.
Overall, It’s an excellent scent for brightening your mood in the morning or calming your spirit after a long day.
How to use:
Try diffusing orange essential oil before bed for a better’s night’s sleep.
For an uplifting pick-me-up add 5-8 drops to the corner of shower tray where it won’t get washed away by the water.
Inhale the steam deeply while showering.
Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin) oil is derived from a bushy perennial herb similar to lavender and native to tropical climates. It has a strong earthy and musky aroma, which can be overpowering, so a little goes a long way with this one.
Patchouli has compounds which act as a sedative to relax the body and help you get a better night’s sleep while boosting your mood and chasing away negative feelings, anxiety and sadness.
How to use:
Patchouli’s strong musky scent is known for being an effective aphrodisiac. I recommend massage to test this theory! Plus an essential oil massage has the added bonus of your partner’s soothing touch.
By giving your partner a sensual massage, you’re both guaranteed to drift off into a warm, peaceful sleep.
For a sensual massage blend
2 drops Patchouli essential oil
3 drops of Sweet Orange essential oil
1 drop of Jasmine essential oil mixed into a base oil of
2 tablespoons of sweet grapefruit oil or coconut oil.
Experimenting with essential oils
If you fancy tackling a bit of DIY aromatherapy, Mystic Moments has a broad range of essential oils as well as several aromatherapy starter kits.
Or, if you'd prefer to leave the blending and chemistry to me, try these Kalabash Bodycare treats, infused with some of the essential oil blends I’ve listed above. Shea Paradise, Creole Rose and Bay Rum artisan soaps, organic bath/body oils and mineral rich bath salts.
Until next time ...