Sleep and essential oils

Did you know that incorporating essential oils into your sleep routine can significantly improve the quality of your rest? Essential oils possess natural calming properties, that facilitate deeper, more restful sleep.

We spoke to Clinical Aromatherapist, Annie Prince to learn more about how using essential oils can help improve our sleep and well-being.

Scented slumber: Enhance your winter nights with essential oils

You’ve heard it before: “You need your sleep”. Without a doubt, sleep is life-essential. And, Professor Matthew Walker’s book ‘Why We Sleep’ (Scribner, 2017), makes it crystal-clear as to why. This eminent neuroscientist and Director of UC Berkeley’s Center for Human Sleep Science, puts sleep at the top of the triangle of ‘diet, exercise and sleep’ and considers it the most important thing to reset your brain and body for everyday health.

Quality sleep can offer numerous health benefits, as it:

  • Helps support a strong immune system, aiding to fight off illnesses and reducing the risk of diseases, like those related to cardiovascular and stroke
  • Promotes emotional well-being, reducing the likelihood of: depression, anxiety and panic attacks
  • Enhances cognitive function, helping with mental sharpness and clarity, throughout the day
  • Facilitates emotional regulation, to maintain stable and positive moods
  • Allows our body to repair and rejuvenate, promoting our overall physical health and vitality
  • Helps balance insulin, which regulates appetite and maintains a flourishing microbiome
What exactly is aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy is a very old branch of herbal medicine that utilises essential oils and other botanical products to promote and maintain physical, emotional and mental health.

Essential oils are highly potent complex mixtures of chemical components, which have a pharmacological effect on the body and mind. It is therefore important to use them safely and with knowledge from a respected source.

How can essential oils help with sleep and well-being?

Essential oils possess a diverse range of qualities: they can promote relaxation, boost energy, fight bacteria and viruses, alleviate pain and inflammation, aid in wound healing, enhance mood and bring comfort.

Due to their small molecular size and lipid-friendly nature, they are readily absorbed through the skin. These aromatic molecules travel directly to the brain regions responsible for emotional and behavioural responses, where they stimulate the release of neurochemicals, that can influence mood and behaviour.

What essential oils should I be using to enhance my sleep?

To fully reap the benefits of aromatherapy, it’s important to choose high-quality essential oils. Opt for organic or wildcrafted varieties from trusted sources to ensure therapeutic benefits. While the choice of oil depends on your reason for using them, their therapeutic effects, depend on their chemistry. The suggestions below are all available in New Zealand, and can be layered into your sleep routine, to help optimise your well-being this winter:

Insomnia 2 rev

For stress relief, insomnia, anxiety, panic attacks:

  • Lavandula angustifolia [lavender true]
  • Anthemis nobilis [roman chamomile]
  • Pelargonium graveolens [geranium]
  • Origanum majorana [sweet marjoram]
  • Cananga odorata [ylang ylang]
Enjoyment rev

To lift the spirit:

  • Boswellia carterii [frankincense]
  • Santalum spicatum [Australian sandalwood]
Breath rev

For alleviating the symptoms of respiratory illnesses, such as colds and flu:

  • Eucalyptus radiata [narrow leaved peppermint]
  • Leptospermum scoparium [manuka]
  • Kunzea ericoides [kanuka]
  • Melaleuca alternifolia [tea tree]
Methods of use

There’s a multitude of ways that you can incorporate essential oils into your night-time routine, such as:

  • Bath: Put 5 drops of a chosen oil, or use a blend of oils, in 1 tsp of eco bodywash and add to your bath
  • Diffuse: Diffuse 5 to 10 drops of essential oils for 15 minutes before bed, using a relaxing blend for sleep
  • Pillows: Put 1 drop of lavender or roman chamomile on your pillow to help you sleep, or add to 1 tsp of carrier oil and rub into your temples
  • On-the-go: Make a roller ball with 10 drops of essential oil and 10 ml of jojoba and apply to pulse points, to ease panic and anxiety
  • To alleviate colds/respiratory infections: Make a steam inhalation with 1 drop of a respiratory oil in a bowl of hot water, cover head with a towel and inhale for 2 – 5 minutes
  • Massage: Make a massage oil with 20 drops of the respiratory essential oils [5 drops of each one] in 50ml of sweet almond oil or jojoba; massage into upper chest, sides of neck and upper back, to help treat colds and flu
Holistic tips for achieving quality sleep

In addition to incorporating essential oils into your night-time routine, it’s important to integrate healthy sleep hygiene practices:

  • Treat your bedroom as an oasis of peace and quiet
  • Regard it as a space for the three R’s: rest, reading, relaxation
  • Switch off screens and wind down an hour or two before bed
  • Buy the best bed, such as a Sealy Posturepedic, which is designed to support the body during sleep, find out more here
  • Create an uncluttered, inviting space, by using subdued lighting and fragrant natural scents
  • Enjoy a fresh or freshly-dried herbal tea such as roman chamomile or lemon balm – add one tsp of fresh leaves or flowers in a cup of hot water, cover and steep for 10 minutes

About Annie:

Annie Prince is a Clinical Aromatherapist and Educator. Trained in France in aromatic medicine and passionate about integrative medicine, combining allopathics and complementary therapies, such as essential oil use. She manages her clinic in Matakana, treating clients, making bespoke products and guiding small classes. Her first book ‘The Personalised Conversation in Aromatherapy, A Practitioner Guide’ is due for release soon.

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