The Best Essential Oils for Sleep
The saying “you snooze, you lose” should be revisited—sleep is a pretty big win. It sets the tone for how we show up in our lives (and when we lack it, it’s a universally-accepted excuse to complain). Sleeping is something we spend an average of 25 years of our lives doing, so it’s no wonder we’re always looking for ways to do it well.
While there are plenty of options for elevating your rest routine (sleeping in silk pyjamas, taking a long bath, avoiding screen time), scent can have a particularly powerful effect on the brain and body. In fact, studies have shown that inhaling certain essential oils before bed can help relax the nervous system, slow down heart rate and blood pressure, and promote feelings of calm.
Here are a few of our favourites for drifting off to dreamland (and doing it in a completely natural, non-toxic way).
This oil is the epitome of calm (if you have any doubts, just picture yourself in a lavender field). And if that’s not proof enough, consider that clinical studies have shown Lavender to have calming effects, reduce anxiety, and help bring on sleep. In fact, Lavender can cause significant decreases in blood pressure, heart rate, and skin temperature, which indicates a decrease of autonomic arousal. Add 15 drops to a diffuser an hour before bed, shut the door, and return to a room primed for relaxation and rest.
Ylang Ylang has a sweet, full-bodied aroma. It’s been used as a traditional sleep remedy in Thailand, and studies have shown it can help decrease heart rate and blood pressure, as well as provide a relief of arousal levels. It also has sedative properties and can help promote happy dreams thanks to its ability to reduce anxiety levels. It pairs beautifully with Frankincense in a diffuser, or mix it with Lavender in the wash to make your sheets smell like a serene, dreamy garden.
Cedarwood is known for being incredibly cozy and warm. Inhaling Cedarwood has shown to lead to an increase in parasympathetic activity (rest and digest) and a reduction in sympathetic activity (fight or flight). There’s something incredibly peaceful about this forest-like aroma; mix it with Bergamot or Lavender in a diffuser, or make it a part of your evening shower routine by adding a few drops to your tub while the water’s running.
Although citrus oils are typically associated with energizing properties, Bergamot is a much richer, deeper aroma that is both grounding and comforting. The scent is shown to reduce psychological stress responses, lower blood pressure, and lower cortisol levels to promote better sleep. Try adding 10 drops to a warm bath before bed to wind down in a luxurious way.
Frankincense has been used in rituals for centuries, dating back to Biblical times. Its centring aroma has shown an improvement in sleep quality, especially when paired with Lavender. If you meditate to calm your mind before bed, Frankincense should be your go-to scent in the diffuser. You can also mix it with a carrier oil like Jojoba or Sweet Almond and rub it on your meditation beads.
Steep yourself a cup of herbal tea and put on the diffuser. Sweet dreams await.