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Essential Oils and Sleep


Did you know that essential oils can improve the quality of your sleep? You may automatically think of aromatherapy when hearing the words “essential oils”. If you google “essential oils” you will find that “aromatherapy” pops up, because it explains how essential oils work. Essential oils can be diffused or added to various parts of the body to induce relaxation and sleep. These oils are simply concentrated extracts from a plant, which likely include almost all of the plant matter. According to WebMD, “essential oils are made from flower, herb, and tree parts, like bark, roots, peels, and petals. The cells that give a plant its fragrant smell is the "essence." The “essence” of the plant matter is what turns into essential oil. The smell of essential oils tends to be a lot stronger than the plant it comes from, because the active ingredients in the oil are stronger as well. It is important to note that it takes a lot of plant matter to create essential oils. For example, to make one pound of lavender oil, one would have to use over 200 pounds of lavender flowers.

Are Sleep Issues Common?

Quality sleep is one of the most important and restorative processes for the body. A good night’s sleep allows the body to detox and repair, but inadequate sleep will take a toll on your overall health. In the United States, over 40 million people suffer from chronic sleep disorders, and another 20 million with acute sleep problems. These disorders can range from chronic insomnia to daytime sleepiness, restless leg syndrome, and various other sleep problems related to anxiety, depression, medication interactions, and chemical imbalances. Some people with severe sleeping problems may choose prescription medicines, but others with more moderate sleeping problems may opt for a more natural approach. Essential oils do not have the harsh side effects that often accompany pharmaceuticals, and research shows that it works.

How to Use Essential Oils for Sleep

Essential oils can be used in several ways to induce sleep and relaxation; however, aromatherapy is the most common. Aromatherapy is when you place a few drops of essential oils into a diffuser, which diffuses the oil into the air in the room. Some diffusers can be set to run for a few hours, but some people prefer to let them run all night. You can use a different blend of oils to create the perfect cocktail for a good night of sleep. If you use a diffuser, you must be careful about diffusing citrus oils like lemon, because they can damage rubber and plastic on some ultrasonic units. Some oils may need to be mixed with “carrier oil”, which is simply a vegetable oil or base oil used to dilute the essential oil. You can also use essential oils in the following ways:  

  • Place a drop of oil around your navel, palms, or wrist.
  • Rub the oil onto the heels of your feet.
  • Rub the oil into your chest, neck, or under your nostrils.
  • Dilute the oil in a glass of water as a gargle mixture.
  • Dilute the oil in a spray mixture.

5 Essential Oils That Are Great for Sleeping and How to Use Them

Cedarwood Oil

Cedarwood oil is an essential oil that has anti-inflammatory, relaxing, and sedative properties. It is ideal to use before getting ready for bed because it helps reduce stress and anxiety. You can add a few drops of cedarwood oil to your diffuser or add a few drops to your body. If you choose to add it to your body, you will have to mix it with a carrier oil. Those drops can be placed on your forehead, temples, and neck before laying down for the night.

Sandalwood Oil

Sandalwood oil is an essential oil that can stimulate the body to produce melatonin. Melatonin is an important neurotransmitter that regulates your circadian rhythms which helps you achieve normal sleep patterns. The aroma of sandalwood is enough to make most folks fall into a deep sleep. Therefore, adding it to a room diffuser is the best way to use this oil, but it can also be added to the palms of your hands.

Lavender Oil

Lavender oil is one of the more popular essential oils known for relaxing and soothing properties. Lavender is particularly helpful in preventing restless leg syndrome and sleep apnea because of its anti-spasmodic properties. You can place a few drops of lavender oil into your bathwater, or you may sprinkle a few drops on your pillow before bed. Lavender oil also works well with diffusers and can be used before bed or while sleeping.

Sweet Marjoram Oil

Sweet Marjoram oil is another popular oil known to have sedative effects on the body, which stems from its direct interaction with the central nervous system and the pineal gland. It also helps raise the amount of melatonin in the blood. The increased melatonin reduces anxiety and stress hormones. A few drops can be added to a glass of warm water before bed, which calms the body making it easy to fall asleep.

Jasmine Oil

Jasmine oil is one of the most researched essential oils. This oil will spark the release of certain neurotransmitters in your brain that will lower stress levels. A few drops of Jasmine oil can be added to a diffuser, particularly before bed, providing a calm environment that leads to a good night of sleep.


Numerous studies have been conducted on essential oils and their impact on the body and mind when it comes to sleep. One qualitative study stated, “a majority of the study findings suggested a positive effect of essential oils on sleep”. Another group of researchers stated, “lavender serves as a mild sedative and has practical applications as a novel, nonphotic method for promoting deep sleep in young men and women”. Essential oils are impactful when it comes to relaxation and sleep, and the side effects are less harsh than prescription drugs.


Written by: Anntonieyo Tabor

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