Falling asleep at night can come off as a daunting task for some people - insomnia has become very common among adults.
With the difficulty of falling asleep, people result in trying different sleep rituals such as playing relaxing music, lighting candles, bathing, or other pre-sleep activities.
One method that's rising in popularity is using essential oils as a sleep aid.
In this article, we look at how essential oils are used to help you sleep and whether or not it works to give you the quality sleep that you need.
Essential oils and aromatherapy
The main principle behind the use of essential oils as a sleep aid is aromatherapy. The idea is that the power of smell can cause certain mood changes or even physiological changes in the body.
It is believed that certain scents cause different associations in the mind that can trick your brain into believing certain things.
For example, most cleaning agents are mixed with citrus scents since studies exhibit that the brain associates cleanliness with a fruity smell.
This is also the same principle why spas and massage parlors all smell alike; the scent of peppermint, bamboo, or lavender has long been associated with the idea of rest and relaxation.
Where do essential oils come from?
Essential oils are extracted from either steaming or pressing the different parts of a plant, such as the flowers, the fruit, the leaves, or even the bark.
Extracting these oils allows you to capture the scent or the fragrance of the plant as well as some of its therapeutic properties.
But, extracting essential oils isn't an easy feat as it can require a large volume of plants to produce a small bottle - hence the price premium of oils in the market.
How do you use essential oils?
There are many popular methods in which you can use essential oils - the most used for aromatherapy is diffusion.
Diffusion allows the particles of the essential oils to come in contact with the surrounding air to spread the aroma within a room.
The most common way of diffusing oil is through an ultrasonic oil diffuser, wherein the oils are mixed with water.
An ultrasonic oil diffuser's vibrations cause the mix of essential oil and water to break down into tiny particles, creating a very fine mist that looks like fog or smoke.
This method doesn't only spread the scent of the oil in the room better than other methods, but it also increases the room's relative humidity - which can be beneficial for snorers and those always waking up with a dry throat.
Essential oils can also be applied topically (directly on the skin), but these are usually mixed with carrier oils to avoid irritation and damage to the skin.
Avoid directly applying undiluted essential oils as they may be too potent.
Apart from the direct application of oils, you may also add some essential oils to a warm bath so you could soak yourself in oils.
If you've been finding ways to fall asleep faster, chances are you've seen tips such as drinking chamomile tea before you sleep.
Drinking chamomile tea has long been accepted as a great way to calm the body and aid in sleep, but it’s relaxing and sedative effects can also be further enhanced by adding drops of essential oils.
Ingesting natural essential oils is considered safe by many as the oils come from natural sources. However, please do your own research and talk to a health care professional before ingesting oils.
Another method that's very similar to diffusion is spraying essential oils in your room to spread the scent effectively.
But, spraying undiluted essential oil can be too expensive to do - instead, you can mix essential oils with water in a spray bottle. You can also purchase essential oil sprays which is pre mixed for you.
Play around with the proportions to your preference; start with a few drops as essential oils can be very potent.
How does aromatherapy give you a good night's sleep?
Apart from the brain's associations with scents and general feelings - smelling things also affects our general wellness and nervous system.
Studies analysing brain waves of people during sleep have shown that certain scents can evoke hyperactivity, and some scents can reduce brain activity as well - leading to restful sleep.
In other studies, scents have also been found to reduce heart rate and blood pressure, leading to better sleep quality and a more efficient sleep cycle.
More than the physiological effects of smelling and inhaling essential oils, it also has calming effects that have been found to reduce stress and anxiety.
What are the best essential oils to use for your sleep ritual?
Lavender essential oil is the most popular pick when it comes to essential oils for sleep - a lot of people know about it, and it's also one of the most available essential oils on the market.
The popularity of lavender oil isn't just because of its availability, but rather because of how effective its sleep-inducing properties are.
Bergamot is a citrus fruit-bearing plant that has been popular among oil enthusiasts.
Diffusing bergamot essential oils effectively lowers your heart rate, gives you a calming effect and helps reduce anxiety.
Tropical scents can be reminiscent of resting on a lovely warm beachfront, making a genuinely relaxing olfactory experience.
But apart from the scent, ylang-ylang is fantastic for topical applications to relieve stress on your pressure points.
There are so many different oils available that serve as a natural remedy to sleep deprivation and anxiety - with this in mind; you can try out different scents that you like best.
Some other oils that are popular for getting better deep sleep and overall well-being are the following: roman chamomile, citrus oils, cedarwood essential oils, sandalwood, frankincense, and sweet marjoram.
Many brands sell a “sleep” oil which is their personal blend of oils that are designed to aid with sleep and relaxation.
It has never been medically proven that essential oils help you sleep, however so many people have reported on the benefits.
Many studies and personal experiences support the idea that essential oils can give you a more relaxed and calm feeling.
Either way, if essential oils aren’t really helping you fall asleep, look at the silver lining - at least your room smells fantastic!