Trouble Sleeping?… Try Lavender Essential Oil!
Many people think essential oils have only one purpose – to make things smell nice. However, plants and their essential oils have been used for thousands of years in traditional medicine to help support the body (through their chemical components and aroma) with both physical and mental ailments. These include digestive problems, anxiety, depression, pain, bacterial infection, viruses, headaches, skin issues and sleep problems!
Most of us lead busy lives, which in turn can lead to trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep at night. Both physical stress (over-exercising, a high pressure work environment, eating a diet high in processed food & sugar, excessive caffeine consumption) and emotional stress (relationship troubles, financial worries, a sick family member) are all reasons why we might not be able to turn off our brain and get a good night’s rest.
Essential oils can affect your body’s biochemistry whether they are applied topically (via carrier oil), taken internally (not recommended unless under practitioner supervision) or inhaling them via diffusion. Lavender essential oil (lavandula angustifolia) is high in Linalool – a chemical compound known for its sedative and anti-anxiety effects, and for its ability to activate the body’s parasympathetic response. With it’s calming aroma, it helps to decrease feelings of stress and anxiety, and may actually be one of the most effective methods for people who are having trouble sleeping. A study of ICU patients, both reported that lavender oil increased sleep quality and decreased anxiety. Also in 2015, a study involving 79 college students investigated lavender oil on sleep, showing it did indeed improve sleep quality, with a “significant finding for waking feeling refreshed.”
How To Use Lavender Essential Oil For Sleep
1. Topical Use
Essential oils are transdermal, meaning they penetrate the skin well. Research suggest that topical application may actually be one of the most effective methods for people with sleep disorders, as the chemical components of lavender have been shown to enter the bloodstream within 5 minutes of massaging the oil on the skin. The relaxing effects of lavender essential oil work two-fold when applied topically because of the direct benefit on the brain when inhaled and absorbed through the skin!
To apply topically: Fill a 2oz jar or bottle with a carrier oil such as grapeseed oil or jojoba oil. Add in 5 drops of lavender essential oil and shake well. Apply all over your body after your shower, at night before bed. Alternatively you could just rub the oil into the bottom and back of your neck, on your temples and forehead, and across your chest. With the remaining oil on your hands, cup your palms and bring them to your nose. Using the inhalation method, take a few deep breaths to draw the scent all the way into your amygdala gland (the emotional warehouse) in your brain to calm the mind. Leave the bottle on your nightstand so you remember to apply it!
2. Aromatic Use
Buy an essential oil diffuser (available at Wellth!) and put in on your bedside table or somewhere in your bedroom. An hour before bedtime fill your diffuser with water and add 5 drops of lavender essential oil. Turn the diffuser on, close the door, and let the aroma fill your bedroom air. Turn it off and unplug when you’re ready to go to sleep.
If you don’t want to apply the lavender directly to your skin or face, you can also apply a couple of drops of the pure oil straight onto your pillow. Alternatively you can add 20 drops into 50ml of distilled water in a small spray bottle and spray lightly over your bed before you go to sleep.
Lavender essential oil can be used a variety of ways to help you get to sleep. If one method doesn’t work for you, give one of the others a try!
Article by Kavisha. Wellth’s Community Wellness Manager & Aromatherapist.
- Lillehei, A. S., Halcón, L. L., Savik, K., & Reis, R. (2015). Effect of inhaled lavender and sleep hygiene on self-reported sleep issues: a randomized controlled trial. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 21(7), 430-438.
- Karadag, E., Samancioglu, S., Ozden, D., & Bakir, E. (2017). Effects of aromatherapy on sleep quality and anxiety of patients. Nursing in critical care, 22(2), 105-112.