Do Essential Oils Really Help You Sleep?

Most of us know the frustration of sleepless nights. You curl up in bed, turn off the lights, close your eyes and sink into the pillow but sleep stays just out of reach. You toss and turn trying to will sleep to come but instead, your mind races with the events of the day or the obligations of tomorrow. 

Nearly half of Americans say they feel sleepy throughout the day and 35.2% report sleeping less than seven hours per night, according to the Sleep Foundation. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends seven hours of sleep as the absolute minimum for adults. Making sleep a priority is one of the most important aspects of self-care. If your schedule allows it, treat your sleep like your job. Your health and happiness depend on it. 

Beyond daytime tiredness, sleep has a direct effect on your mental health. Studies show that half of all insomnia cases are related to depression, anxiety, and psychological stress. Not getting enough sleep can produce health problems and make you disoriented throughout the day. To put it simply, the quality of your sleep has a strong correlation with the quality of your life. 

Now that we’ve covered the importance of sleep and how it affects us, let’s discuss what science says about how to get better sleep. You may be familiar with how light, temperature, and noises can impact sleep but what about smell? Aromatherapy and pure essential oils have been used for centuries to help people relax and achieve better sleep. Let’s look at what the research says essential oils and sleep. 

Do Essential Oil Really Help You Sleep? 

Numerous studies have shown that essential oils can help improve sleep quality. Aromatherapy can help create a peaceful, calming, and relaxing environment for restorative rest. Through the olfactory system (the nose and nasal passages) our sense of smell plays a crucial part in the physiological effects of mood, stress, and function according to recent research. This is how inhaling essential oils can have a direct effect on helping you fall and stay asleep. 

What are essential oils? 

Essential oils are derived from plant parts like leaves, flowers, fruit peels, and bark through steam distillation or cold-pressed methods. These oils possess the “essences” of plants, capturing their scent and therapeutic properties natural to that plant. Basically, they are very very concentrated forms of the plant, distilled for you into an easy-to-use bottle of oil.  

Have you ever felt instantly calmed by the fresh smell of a forest or the steam from hot chamomile tea? Or perhaps a fond memory has ran through your mind after you smelt fresh-cut grass or your family’s favorite meal. That is the power of aroma. It has a physiological and psychological effect on your body that can be used to enhance your quality of life (and sleep). 

Research About Essential Oils & Sleep

  • After inhaling Lavender essential oil for 15 days, patients with coronary artery disease reported improved sleep quality and reduced anxiety levels according to a 2015 study.  

  • Aromatherapy was found to be an effective way to promote sleep after systematic review and analysis of 245 publications and 13 studies about essential oils and sleep.

  • Better sleep quality and more daytime energy was reported by participants in a 2021 study who were exposed to Lavender essential oil while asleep. 

  • Dementia patients experienced fewer sleep disturbances and significantly longer sleep periods after inhaling essential oils like Lavender, Orange, and Cedarwood in a 2017 study

  • College students experiencing sleep issues like mild insomnia reported higher sleep quality after applying diluted Lavender essential oil topically over a five-night period according to a 2015 study

How To Use Essential Oils For Sleep

Before adding essential oils to your bedtime routine, it’s a good idea to check your sleep hygiene. Good sleep hygiene includes a calming bedroom environment and consistent daily habits that lead to peaceful sleep. The CDC recommends getting some physical activity during the day, avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bedtime, and removing any electronics (sorry, iPhone) from your bedroom. 

To use essential oils for restorative sleep, the goal is to make your bedroom feel like a relaxing spa. Think tranquil, calming, peaceful. About 30 minutes before bedtime, declutter your space, dim the lights and add your chosen essential oil to a diffuser or gently inhale it directly from the bottle. 

You can also dilute your chosen essential oil in a carrier oil (like Fractionated Coconut Oil or Argan Oil) and apply it to your skin. One of our favorite ways to enhance bedtime is to add Lavender or ou Sleep Essential Oil Blend diluted with a carrier oil to a bubble bath. Allow the warm water to soothe away your stress. Add a page-turning read and soft music as needed. 

Our Sleep Essential Oil Blend was formulated specifically by a Licensed Aromatherapist to promote deep, restful sleep. It is a calming combination of Lavender, Chamomile, Ho Wood, and Eucalyptus essential oils. Every essential oil in our Sleep Blend supports relaxation and sleep. And amazingly, it actually works. 

Getting a good night’s sleep is key maintaining a healthy and happy lifestyle. If you’re experiencing sleep issues, we recommend talking to your doctor. Life can be overwhelming and we all have endless to-do lists but you deserve restorative rest. 

Sweet dreams. 

SOURCES

Gallagher, Stephen, PhD, Anna C Phillips, PhD, Douglas Carroll, PhD, Parental stress is associated with poor sleep quality in parents caring for children with developmental disabilities, Journal of Pediatric Psychology, Volume 35, Issue 7, August 2010, Pages 728–737, https://doi.org/10.1093/jpepsy/jsp093

Hwang, E., & Shin, S. (2015). The effects of aromatherapy on sleep improvement: a systematic literature review and meta-analysis. Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, N.Y.), 21(2), 61–68. https://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2014.0113

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. https://doi.org/10.1111/nicc.12198

Ko, LW., Su, CH., Yang, MH. et al. A pilot study on essential oil aroma stimulation for enhancing slow-wave EEG in sleeping brain. Sci Rep 11, 1078 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-80171-x

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. Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, N.Y.), 21(7), 430–438. https://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2014.0327

National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division of Population Health

Ohayon, M. M., & Roth, T. (2001). What are the contributing factors for insomnia in the general population?. Journal of psychosomatic research, 51(6), 745–755. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0022-3999(01)00285-9

Sowndhararajan, K., & Kim, S. (2016). Influence of Fragrances on Human Psychophysiological Activity: With Special Reference to Human Electroencephalographic Response. Scientia pharmaceutica, 84(4), 724–751. https://doi.org/10.3390/scipharm840407

Takeda, A., Watanuki, E., & Koyama, S. (2017). Effects of Inhalation Aromatherapy on Symptoms of Sleep Disturbance in the Elderly with Dementia. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2017, 1902807. https://doi.org/10.1155/2017/1902807