Sleep problems are something that plagues everyone at one point or another in their lives. For some, insomnia and an irregular sleep pattern can become a chronic issue that requires intervention.
In today’s day and age, many people turn to doctors and the medical establishment before trying natural remedies for their sleep disturbances. However, Mother Nature has long provided natural solutions. One of these solutions is essential oils, which are extracted from flowers, grasses, woods, and other natural materials.
Essential oils can be a crucial and effective tool when attempting to treat sleep problems. They may be used as part of a larger lifestyle routine or simply as a so-called “spot treatment” for the occasional sleepless night.
Types of Sleep Problems
Despite the many modern conveniences the current age offers, the rat race of everyday life can occasionally cause excess stress and worry. Sometimes elements we are not even aware of can affect our sleep cycles. Here are a few reasons a person’s sleep may be disturbed.
Do you usually start the day with a large cup of coffee? And do you then continue to drink coffee throughout the day through force of habit? More than just part of your daily routine, coffee contains caffeine, a natural stimulant with addictive properties. Many other drinks and foods contain caffeine, such as tea, soda, energy drinks, and even chocolate.
These items are often consumed without a second thought to the havoc they may wreak on the sleep cycle. Cutting out or cutting down on some of these foods and drinks, or finding a suitable substitute, like caffeine-free coffee, may dramatically improve your sleep cyle.
Sunlight and artificial light are things the average person does not think about when considering what may be hindering a good night’s sleep. However, sunlight is what the human body is naturally trained to respond to. The body’s biorhythms are usually in sync with the rising and setting of the sun.
Therefore, it is no wonder that the excess of artificial light in offices, city streets, and the home can cause sleep disturbances. Many electronics emit a blue light that tells the body to stay awake. That is why looking at a computer or phone screen while in bed can cause one’s bed time to slowly creep later and later. Some electronics now have settings to reduce this blue light starting at a certain time, which may help with this phenomenon.
For many people, sleep schedules are subject to work and lifestyle schedules. If the only shift that is available is the night shift or swing shift, normal sleep times can easily get off track, sending a person into a chronic state of fatigue and exhaustion.
Often these schedule issues are out of a person’s control. After all, a person usually does not consider their sleep schedule when considering a job offer. However, this type of lifestyle can be maintained and other factors in the person’s life can be controlled in order to ensure that they receive adequate rest.
Overthinking is frequently a result of a stressful environment or lifestyle. Also, people who are prone to depression or other psychological disorders often suffer from excessive thinking, also referred to as “rumination.” People who ruminate at night find themselves gripped by the stresses and upsets of the previous or coming day, and sleep escapes them.
While it is important to seek medical help for depression and other psychological illnesses, most people have suffered from a sleepless night due to rumination or overthinking. Meditation and other calming exercises can often help reduce and control this problem and assist in getting sleep back on track.
The symptoms and results of sleeplessness can be dangerous. In fact, it is a known fact that sleepy driving can be as or more dangerous than drunk driving. It is never wise to operate machinery or drive when a person is sleep-deprived.
In addition to the practical concerns of driving or using equipment, exhaustion can cause a person to perform poorly at school or work. Pulling an all nighter might seem like a good idea, but in the long run it can actually cause short-term memory loss, and brain response time is slowed. For people who enjoy multi-tasking, lack of sleep can severely impair your ability to do your job.
Long-term effects of sleep loss can be severe. Depression and other mental illnesses can be worsened by insomnia. In extreme cases, hallucinations and death can result from sleep loss. While most people do not experience insomnia to such a heightened degree, sleep is obviously an important factor of the human experience that should be maintained and respected like any other essential bodily function.
Best Essential Oils for Sleep
Finding the best essential oils for sleep can make a difference in your life. A good night’s rest can make the difference between a successful day and an exhausting day full of fuzzy thinking. While there are other lifestyle changes you can make to ensure a healthy sleep schedule, adding essential oils may significantly increase your quality of sleep and, by extension, your overall health.
Essential oils are excellent for their aromatic properties, but they also can be effective when rubbed into the skin when advisable. Always be aware of general safety when using essential oils. Use a carrier oil when advised, or dilute an oil if necessary. Remember, an essential oil is the “essence” of a plant or flower, meaning it is a distilled, strong substance that can be very effective when used properly.
Most people have heard about the calming and soothing effect of chamomile tea, and that is no accident. Roman chamomile, also known by its Latin name, Chamaemelum nobile, is derived from a perennial plant that has small, white, daisy-like flowers.
When used in aromatherapy, Roman chamomile can improve relaxation and cause drowsiness. In some studies, this essential oil has proven to have similar effects to medicines in the benzodiazepine family, and other studies have shown it also increases anti-stress hormones. For people with nervous dispositions or who suffer from anxiety, Roman chamomile might be a good choice to use for chronic sleeplessness. A few drops in an essential oil diffuser at bedtime could do the trick.
Lavender is the king of essential oils due to its versatility, and its aid in relaxation and sleeplessness is well-known. Often used by ancient and modern people alike, lavender essential oil is gentle and safe for all ages.
This essential oils has been shown to lower blood pressure and slow a person’s heart rate, which can usher in optimal conditions for a good night’s sleep. A drop on a person’s pillow or wrist can offer continuous sleep-aid benefits throughout a night. Also, keeping lavender around the house throughout the day may create a calm, soothing environment. A relaxed environment can signal to your brain safety and allow you to rest more comfortably when the time comes.
While it was often used in ancient Greece and Rome, Valerian has become a fad in recent years. Valerian root has attained a positive reputation in the sleep health community. When taken in pill form, Valerian root can promote certain chemicals in the brain that are conducive to sleep.
However, the essential oil of Valerian is no less effective in assisting sleep. Unlike some of the other floral essential oils on this list, Valerian has an earthy, herbaceous scent that is masculine and woody in nature. Some people find that rubbing a drop or two on the soles of the feet before bedtime can aid in a solid night’s sleep.
A delicate, unique scent derived from the leaves of the bitter orange tree, Neroli essential oil not only soothes the mind but also the nose. Neroli was once considered a rare and exquisite scent available only to royalty.
Now, however, this essential oil is often used in conjunction with lavender and other beautiful scents in aromatherapy. Neroli, like lavender, has sedative properties that can aid in restfulness. Its feminine, honeyed smell combines well with other floral scents that are conducive to maximum relaxation and anxiety relief.
Frequently used in perfumes, sandalwood essential oil has a soft, musky, woody smell that is pleasant no matter what the use is. Unlike many other essential oils that come from the flowers, roots, or stems of a plant, sandalwood is extracted directly from wood through steam distillation.
To help with sleep, a drop or two of sandalwood can be dabbed on the neck or wrist at bedtime. Sandalwood essential oil has many uses in aromatherapy, and a major use is its help with calming nerves and promoting sleep due to its relaxation properties.
A surprising addition to this list is ylang-ylang. This essential oil has a bright, floral scent, and is derived from the flowers of the tropical ylang-ylang plant. Because of its vibrant scent, ylang-ylang might not be the first essential oil that springs to mind when considering sedatives, but its powers of relaxation are well-known.
Because of its comforting, citrus, smell, ylang-ylang can be used blended with other essential oils such as neroli and lavender or used on its own. Ylang-ylang can also be used throughout the day for its relaxing properties to help a person maintain a feeling of well-being and calm, which can greatly improve the chances of a regular night’s sleep.
Another woody, earthy-smelling essential oil, vetiver can help sleep along. When life seems restless or uncertain, vetiver essential oil can often help ground a person and assist a person in refocusing their priorities and concerns. This earthy quality helps a person to relax, and the smell of vetiver blends well with other more feminine scents.
Vetiver essential oil is extracted from a grass found in India, so its grassy and “green” scent is no surprise and can prove pleasant for people who enjoy herbaceous smells. Used a lot in perfumes, vetiver essential oil deepens and grows more complex with age. The longer vetiver sits on a shelf, the more effective it can become.
Though the herb is associated with cooking, sweet marjoram offers an essential oil that may prove helpful when trying to get some sleep. Sweet marjoram can be used diluted in tea, in an essential oil diffuser, or placed directly on the skin (in moderation).
This essential oil has sedative properties and can cause drowsiness when a few drops are placed on the wrists or pillow near bedtime. When combined with other essential oils such as Roman chamomile and lavendar, sweet marjoram can make a big difference when trying to regulate one’s sleep schedule.
Essential oils are an enjoyable, natural way to ease the racing thoughts that sometimes thwart proper sleep. They can also help get a body’s circadian rhythms back on track when hectic lifestyles, work, and family issues make sleep a distant memory.
Not only do they offer an element of comfort in the way of pleasant aromas, essential oils also contain healing properties that directly affect the body in positive ways. Several scientific studies have proven that essential oils can physically assist the body’s production of neurological and hormonal chemicals that are major factors in relaxation and sleep.
Whether you are suffering a single night of restlessness or chronic insomnia, using essential oils can help you in making overall changes to your routine and lifestyle that makes sleep health a priority. A good night’s sleep can do wonders for the mind and body.
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