How to use essential oils for a better sleep

How to Have a Better Sleep with Essential Oils

Have you ever had trouble falling asleep? If you have, have you noticed that you started to have trouble concentrating or remembering things as time went on? If this sounds like you, there are several natural remedies you can use to improve your sleep quality.

If you’re like every one in three adults (1), you don’t get enough rest each night. This means that one-third of the population around the world is suffering from sleep deprivation, and these numbers are not getting better as time goes on. However, did you know that essential oils can play a crucial role in helping you get the rest you need each night?

We’ll fill you in on everything you need to know about the importance of getting adequate sleep and how to use essential oil to help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. You’ll wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day.

How to use essential oils for a better sleep

Table of Contents

How to use essential oils for a good night sleep

The Importance of a Good Night’s Sleep

Did you know that it only takes one night of interrupted rest to wreak havoc on your physical and mental health? (2)

You’re not alone, and recent studies have shown that around 60 percent of Americans have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep more than one night per week. (3) This can lead to several mental and physical problems, and these problems can get worse as you get more and more deprived of rest.

Mental Consequences of Not Getting Adequate Rest

There are several mental consequences associated with not getting adequate rest, and they can worsen over time. This is especially true for people who have chronic issues because they’re more prone to not sleeping well.

  • Anxiety

    Anxiety

    As you get more and more tired, your anxiety levels can increase. This is because the longer you’re awake, the more your mind automatically increase its anticipatory reactions. This heightened sense causes you to feel more anxious overall, and it can increase the anxiety levels of people who already suffer from it. (4) It can also reduce your ability to cope with stress, and this can lead to a more anxious feeling.

  • Depression

    Depression

    People that have depression and have trouble falling asleep can be more prone to experiencing wild mood swings varying from deep depression to a manic state. (5) They can sink into an intense depressive state and bounce back to a high manic state very quickly, and this can make it difficult to function on a day to day basis. Also, people who don’t have depression are more at risk to develop if they’re chronically deprived of rest.

  • Memory Issues

    Memory Issues

    The longer you go without sleeping, or the longer you have disrupted sleeping patterns, the worse your memory can get. You may notice that it’s taking you longer to learn new tasks or remember simple things. Studies and tests have proved that people who were routinely deprived of seven to eight hours of rest scored significantly lower on memory and learning tests compared to their well-rested counterparts. (6)

  • Mood

    Mood

    If you’ve ever had a night where you just couldn’t fall asleep or if you slept poorly, you might have noticed that you were more temperamental or irritable the next day. This is a natural occurrence for people who don’t get enough rest. You’re quicker to get angry, and you may feel mentally exhausted throughout the day. Feeling drained is very common, and the feeling can get worse as the day goes on. It’s been reported that long-term deprivation can lead to mood disorders and high emotional responses. (7)

Physical Consequences of Not Getting Adequate Sleep

If the mental effects of not getting enough rest weren’t enough, there are physical consequences to worry about as well. Just like the psychological consequences, the physical ones can get worse over time.

Sleep deprivation in a long term increases cardiovascular problems

Cardiovascular Problems Increase

When you rest for eight hours a night, you’re able to handle stress much better than if you only rest between four and six hours. Several studies have linked cardiovascular problems like an increased stroke risk to not sleeping long enough. When you don’t get enough rest, the c-reactive protein count in your blood rises, and this elevated protein causes inflammation in your cardiovascular system, putting you at higher risk for a stroke or heart attack. (8)

Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders can lead to a weakened immune system, infections or illnesses

Circadian Rhythm Disruption

Your circadian rhythm is also known as your body’s natural clock, and this natural clock helps to keep your white blood cell count up and healthy. When you disrupt this rhythm by having a poor night’s rest or chronic problems sleeping, it can lead to reduced white blood cell health. In turn, this can lead to a weakened immune system and leave you more prone to infections or illnesses. (9)

Sleep deprivation affect blood pressure and increase the hypertension risk

Hypertension Risk

Hypertension is commonly called high blood pressure, and your blood pressure can rise to dangerously high levels if you routinely have disrupted rest patterns. This is extremely important to know because people with hypertension are at a 50 percent higher chance of having a stroke. (10) A clinical study was performed, and it showed that people who had disrupted rest had increased blood pressure levels and heart rates. (11)

Inadequate sleep can raise your risk of diabetes and obesity

Unhealthy Cravings, Diabetes, and Obesity

When you get adequate rest, your body can naturally regulate the hormones responsible for feeling hungry or full or ghrelin and leptin. However, when this schedule is thrown off, you can experience an increase in your ghrelin levels and a decrease in your leptin levels. This can lead to overeating and put you at a higher risk of being obese or even developing diabetes. Also, it can lead to insulin resistance. (12)

The Risks of Taking Sleeping Pills

The use of sleeping pills has increased drastically over the past 12 years, and the number of emergency room visits from over-medicating with sleeping pills jumped significantly from 2006 to 2010, with the numbers jumping from 15,000 cases to over 25,000 cases. (13) This number has continued to rise over the years, and there are several risks involved with routinely taking sleeping pills that you might not be aware of.

Common Sleeping Pills and Risks

Sleeping pills are typically classified as a sedative-hypnotic. Their primary purpose is to repress your central nervous system, reduce anxiety or tension, and induce drowsiness. (14)

They include the class of drug known as Benzodiazepines, and examples of these types of sleeping pills are Ativan, Valium, and Xanax
The second type of sleeping pill is called a Barbiturate, and these types of sleeping pills cause sedation by depressing the central nervous system.
Medical professionals recommend sleeping pills for short-term use because they can have serious side effects associated with taking them long-term.
  • Breathing Interference

    Sleeping pills can interfere with your normal breathing patterns, and they’re especially risky for people with respiratory conditions like COPD, asthma, or emphysema. (15) Sleeping pills can cause your breathing to slow down to dangerous levels, and it can lower your overall oxygen levels.

  • Confusion

    Routinely taking sleeping pills can cause delayed mental responses or increased confusion. These risks rise as you age, people over 65 are at the greatest risk of experiencing an altered mental state after taking sleeping pills or waking from up a sleeping pill-induced rest. (16) A lot of this confusion is due to the sedative qualities that make sleeping pills an attractive option in the first place.

  • Addiction and Withdrawals

    When you take sleeping pills for a long time, you can build up a tolerance and need more to get the same effects. They’re also highly addictive, and a lot of the time, people don’t realize that they’re addicted to their sleeping pills until they try to stop taking them. This can lead to withdrawal symptoms like shaking, nausea, anxiety, restlessness, and circulatory problems. (17)

  • Parasomnia

    One of the more severe risks of taking sleeping pills is called parasomnia. These are usually complex behaviors that you do when you’re sleeping without realizing you’re doing them. They can include sleepwalking, driving, making phone calls, eating, and other erratic behaviors or movements. They’re more frequent in people who use sleeping pills for long-term periods. (18)

Sleeping Pill Danger Statistics. Source: RehabSpot.com

How Essential Oils Can Help

For a natural way to deal with a sleep disorder or trouble falling asleep, essential oil use can help in a lot of different ways. A lot of people use it to help them relax and unwind, and it’s completely safe to use around your family and pets. Parents have used these oils to help their kids drift off and fall asleep.

Lower Anxiety Levels

These oils can help to lower your anxiety levels. When you get into bed each night, does your mind frequently race with everything that you didn’t manage to get done that day and do you think of everything that you have to do tomorrow? If you do, this can keep you from falling asleep and sleeping through the night because these racing thoughts can cause you to feel anxious or restless. However, using your favorite essential oil blend before bed can help you feel less anxious overall.

They’re wonderful for calming your mind down, and you should notice that they let you get into bed and drift off without worrying about the things you have to do or the 1,001 activities you have planned for the upcoming week. You’ll drift off faster, and you can wake up and feel refreshed and ready to take on the day. (19)

Promotes Relaxation

Certain essential oil blends can help you relax and unwind, and this can help you get ready for bed faster. With your family and the day-to-day stress, being able to relax enough to drift off can be challenging or even frustrating. So, if you start using an essential oil blend before bed, they can help you transition into a relaxed state. In turn, you can start falling asleep faster.

Studies have proven that certain oil blends can help to relax your muscles and calm your nervous system. (21) You can find or make oil blends with sedative properties easily, and these can also help you to relax. It may take a few tries before you find a blend that works for you, but there are thousands available.

Reduces Depression

Depending on the essential oil you use, they can be an effective way to fight depression and help you fall asleep and sink into a deeper rest state. If you fall into a deeper state, you can feel more refreshed and not so mentally exhausted when you wake up. Studies have shown that blending certain oils and using them in aromatherapy and as massage oils can help to lower your pulse, lower your blood pressure, and decrease the feelings of depression. (20)

How to Use Essential Oil Before Bed

There are several different ways you can use essential oil before you try and go to bed. They all work well, but it comes down to personal preference and what ways work the best for your situation.

Aromatherapy

An easy way to use these oils or oil blends is by aromatherapy because the sedative effects work by inhalation. (22) You can add a few drops of the oil to a cotton ball and put it under your pillow, or you can dilute it in water and spritz it around your room with a spray bottle. If you like to control exactly how much scent fills your room, using a spray bottle with diluted oils is an easy way to accomplish this.

Using an aromatherapy diffuser is especially helpful if you have kids that have trouble sleeping. You can buy timed diffusers that let you set how long it releases the fragrance, and it’ll shut off when the timer goes off. You can turn it on right before your kids go to bed, and let it diffuse in the air until it runs out of time. As it automatically shuts off, you don’t have to worry about it getting overpowering, and your kids can fall asleep quickly.

You can also add a few drops to your bath water. This will help to dilute your oils, and you can let the oils and the hot water relax your body. For the best results, add four or five drops of your oils in a hot bubble bath with your favorite music and treat yourself to a relaxing soak. It works great for younger kids as part of their bedtime routine too!

Body Lotion

Making a body lotion that is scented with your favorite relaxing oils combines aromatherapy and massage, and it’s a great way to get the best of both worlds. When you get ready for bed, you can make a quick body lotion using a scoop of coconut or jojoba oil and a few drops of your oil. You can then massage this lotion over your body, or have a partner do it for you.

ASMR Neck Massage Essential Oil Relaxation. Source: Solfrid ASMR

Massage

Essential oil blends are transdermal, and this means that it can soak into your skin quickly. (23) Because it can do this, it gets into your system and goes to work calming your nervous system very fast. You do want to be careful with delicate fabrics because it can stain if you spill or rub it on them.

You can rub your oils on your feet about 20 minutes before you go to bed. This is how long it’ll take for the oils to soak into your skin. You can also massage a small amount of your favorite oil into the skin on your wrists and the back of your neck. If you have sore muscles, some oil blends can help with this problem too.

Body Lotion

Making a body lotion that is scented with your favorite relaxing oils combines aromatherapy and massage, and it’s a great way to get the best of both worlds. When you get ready for bed, you can make a quick body lotion using a scoop of coconut or jojoba oil and a few drops of your oil. You can then massage this lotion over your body, or have a partner do it for you.

The Seven Best Essential Oils for Helping to Fall Asleep

There are dozens of different essential oil blends and scents available today, but I’ve picked out what I think are the top seven essential oil scents to help promote relaxation and falling asleep.

Lavender Oil

Lavender oil is a wildly popular rest and relaxation aid, and I’m betting you aren’t surprised to see it here. It’s been studied in tests, and it’s proved to be an effective tool to help fight insomnia because it has sedative properties. (24) It’s been proven to help people relax, and it can make them less anxious. In turn, they’re falling asleep faster and staying asleep longer. (25)

It has a very fresh and floral scent, and this oil can help reduce the amount of stress you feel. Inhaling this scent also has a very well researched effect on the central nervous system. It can cause your heart rate to slow down, and it also has a positive effect on your blood pressure levels. (26)

Cedarwood Oil

Cedarwood may be surprising, but a lot of people love the woody and earthy smell that cedarwood has. This oil is particularly useful when you use it for aromatherapy because it has sedative effects that can help you relax and get ready for bed. You should feel a calming effect as well as a soothing effect on your mind, and this can help to calm racing thoughts. (27)

Also, this oil is excellent for helping with any inflammation or itching, and when you combine this with its anxiety relieving properties, you understand why it’s so popular with people with insomnia. It can make you more comfortable overall, and this can help you fall asleep faster. (28)

Vetiver Oil

Vetiver oil is a very earthy and strong oil, so it may take you a while to get used to the smell. If the scent is too strong for you, it mixes very well with Roman chamomile or lavender. Vetiver may become one of your go-to oils when you need to shut off your brain and relax. It has powerful sedative properties, so it’s great for helping you reset when you get really busy. (29)

Vetiver also takes care of your nerves and ensures that they all remain functioning and in good health. This means that it can help with common nerve problems like tingling, spasms, and restlessness. Finally, it’s also a great oil to help heal any nerve damage done by stress, and it can make you more comfortable. This can make you feel better and fall asleep. (30)

Sweet Marjoram Oil

For people who have insomnia or other common sleep disorders, Sweet Marjoram oil can be an effective aid to combat it. It has sedative and relaxing agents that can relieve tension, anxiety, and racing thoughts. It’s been used for years by multiple cultures for religious and medicinal uses because it has so many positive influences on the body and mind. (31)

This oil can also promote feelings of peace and happiness, and it’s an excellent mood-altering oil for people with depression or other mood disorders. It can help to alleviate the feeling of fatigue as well, and this is present in many people who have trouble sleeping. When you have problems sleeping, you can feel drained or mentally exhausted, and Sweet Marjoram can help immensely. (32)

Ylang Ylang Oil

Ylang Ylang oil is another essential oil that has several health benefits for both your mental and physical health. It has a very light and floral scent associated with it. This oil works great as a massage oil, and it can sink into your skin and relax your muscles and nervous system. When your body relaxes, your mind can follow, and it’s a great pre-bedtime routine. (33)

It can also help you feel more energized throughout the day, and it pairs well with other oils like Bergamot and Lavender. It can help you have less anxious or stressed feelings, and these are two major contributors to why people have trouble falling asleep. Also, it works for chronic fatigue, mild aches, and pains, PMS symptoms, and it can improve your heart health. (34)

Bergamot Oil

If you like citrus, Bergamot oil is an excellent aid to relax you, and it can induce several physiological changes that usually come with falling asleep like reducing your blood pressure and your heart rate safely and naturally. (35) It can also help with racing thoughts, and it is something that keeps a lot of people up at night.

For anyone who has anxiety or feels a high level of stress, this oil is also effective at helping to reduce these feelings as well. This can make you healthier overall because it’s better for your heart health when your stress and anxiety levels are lower. (36) Bergamot does make your skin more sensitive to the sun, so you do want to keep this in mind if you plan to apply it topically.

Valerian Oil

This particular oil is found in a lot of sleepy time tea recipes, and it’s an effective way to help reduce any insomnia or trouble sleeping you may have. Valerian oil has dozens of different uses, and it’s commonly referred to as a heal all oil. It can also improve how deep you fall asleep, and it can improve your overall quality. (37)

This oil helps to coordinate your body’s natural hormone production and stabilize your natural clock. It can also improve your overall mood, and help to reduce any depression, anxiety, or stress you may have. When these levels are reduced, you can fall asleep much quicker, and you shouldn’t wake up multiple times throughout the night. (38)

Five Essential Oil Sleepy Time Recipes

  • Recipe One: Calm Me Down

    If you have high levels of anxiety, or if you’re a chronic worrier, this recipe can be a lifesaver!
    It can help you turn your brain off and get ready for bed, and it slows down your racing thoughts.
    This blend of oils helps to calm your nerves, and it gets you in the right mindset for bed.

    Ingredients

    • 10 Drops of Frankincense Oil
    • 10 Drops of Rosemary Oil
    • 5 Drops of Wild Orange Oil

    You can mix these in a diffuser for aromatherapy, put them in a spray bottle and spritz them around your bed,
    or put them on a cotton ball and put them under your pillow to enjoy the effects.

  • Recipe Two: Deep Slumber

    People who suffer from depression or anxiety may feel like they never get enough rest, and they may feel mentally exhausted all of the time. This is where Deep Slumber can help. Not only can it lift your mood and chase away those dark thoughts, but it can also help you fall into a deep slumber and stay asleep longer.

    Ingredients

    • 1 Drop of Lavender Oil
    • 1 Drop of Valerian Oil

    You can combine these two oils into your aromatherapy diffuser with water and let it run 15 to 20 minutes before you go to bed. This will help the scent linger around your room and spread its calming effects. If you can set your diffuser on a timer, so it goes on an off throughout the night, that’s even better.

  • Recipe Three: Calming Mind and Body

    Sometimes, it seems like your body wants to rest but your mind is going 1,000 miles an hour and it several different directions. This oil blend can help soothe your tired body and relax your mind while giving you a fresh, lingering scent that can last for hours.

    Ingredients

    • 5 Drops of Lavender Oil
    • 10 Drops of Roman Chamomile Oil
    • 5 Drops of Ylang Ylang Oil

    You can put this blend in your diffuser and let it fill the room, or you can use it as a massage oil or body cream and massage it into your feet before you go to bed.

  • Recipe Four: Off to Dreamland

    Allergies can be uncomfortable, and this can make it difficult to fall asleep because you’re congested and miserable. Off to Dreamland is a blend of oils that help reduce your allergy symptoms, depression symptoms, chronic fatigue, and restlessness.

    Ingredients

    • 2 Drops of Bergamot Oil
    • 1 Drop of Patchouli Oil
    • 1 Drop of Vetiver Oil

    This recipe works great in a diffuser, and you can mix these oils with water and start it 30 minutes before you go to bed. For an extra calming effect, you can get into bed with a good book and do some deep breathing to get the full calming effect.

  • Recipe Five: Breathe and Relax

    If you’re restless before bed, or if you can’t seem to get into the right frame of mind to relax, this massage oil blend can help. It promotes peace and healing, and it also acts to remove any toxins from your body and purify your blood.

    Ingredients

    • 2 Drops of Lavender Oil
    • 1 Drop of White Angelica Oil
    • Carrier Oil

    Massage the White Angelica oil over your heart area after your bath during your bedtime routine. Mix the carrier oil with the two drops of the Lavender oil and apply it over your spine. You can now breathe deeply and enjoy the calming and relaxing effects of this oil blend.

Tips to Get Better Rest and Further Reading

Here are several useful tips to help you get a better rest throughout the night, even if you have a sleep disorder or problems drifting off.

Set the Thermostat

You want to avoid getting too hot or too cold throughout the night, so you want to make sure you set your thermostat before you get into bed. Ideally, the optimal temperature for your room ranges anywhere between 60°F and 67°F (16°C to 19°C). (39)

Eat Melatonin-Rich Foods

Melatonin is a naturally-occurring hormone that helps to regulate your awake and rest cycle. If you have low levels of Melatonin, you may find it difficult to relax and sleep. (42) Eating Melatonin-rich foods can help increase your levels, and these foods include nuts, seeds, grains, cherries, corn, tomatoes, and asparagus.

Eat the Correct Foods

Eating foods with high levels of vitamin B6, and magnesium can help to combat insomnia and restlessness. (40) Examples of these foods are spinach, pumpkin seeds, avocados, bananas, brown rice, molasses, and halibut.

Do Gentle Full Body Exercises

Incorporating a full body gentle yoga routine before you get ready for bed can help your body relax and get rid of the daily stress and anxiety levels that may be preventing you from getting in the mind frame for slumber.
YouTube Video

Turn the Electronics Off

Blue light and blue screens from electronics like phones, tablets, and computers can disrupt your body’s natural rhythm. (41) You want to turn the electronics off before you go to bed, and maybe even make your room an electronic-free zone.

Get a Good Mattress

Get a Good Mattress – A good night’s rest depends on how comfortable you are and how much support you have. Your mattress plays a vital role in how successful you are at falling asleep and staying asleep, and it can take time to get the right amount of comfort and support. (44)

Conclusion & What’s Next?

Do you get enough sleep? Now that you know how important a good night’s sleep is to your physical and mental health, you may want to consider adding essential oils to help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.

We’ve proven that you get better sleep with essential oils, and this can help improve depression, anxiety, mood, and memory issues. It can also have a positive impact on your physical health, and essential oils are the natural and safe way to improve your sleep schedule.

You can use one oil or a combination of oils in one of our five recipes to get excellent results. Lavender, cedarwood, vetiver, sweet marjoram, ylang-ylang, bergamot, and valerian oils all promote healthy sleep. No matter which oil you use, they all work well in aromatherapy, lotions, massage oils, or smelling salts.

Now that you know how important it is to get a good night’s rest, the risks of sleeping pills, how essential oil blends can help you and what a few good blends and oils are, you can experiment on your own.

Did you enjoy this article? We hope you’ve learned a lot from it, and we invite you to read on. We have several more in-depth essential oil articles that can help you in a variety of areas in your life. From sleep to stress and anxiety relief to specific oil profiles and storage tips, we have it all.