While millions of people usually go to sleep on time and wake up in the morning feeling fresh to start a new day, there are a million others popping sleeping pills and hoping they get 6 hours sleep before their morning alarm goes off. After years of research and data collection scientists, health experts, and doctors have concluded that sleep is something you do not take for granted. While it is something everyone has the right to, not everyone gets to enjoy refreshing sleep naturally.
About 70 million Americans suffer from some sleep disorders and about 4% of the adults US citizens depend on prescription medication for getting proper sleep. This data comes from a 2014 Center for Disease Control and Prevention USA. The numbers may seem staggering, but they are correct. Not getting enough sleep every night, lying awake staring at the ceiling while your brain feels shut down or waking up too tired to leave the bed each morning are severe signs of fatigue and the lack of quality sleep.
You should never ignore these signs. However, there are at least another 50 million people in the US, who do not want to consult a physician or a sleep expert for their sleep-related issues. It is because they do not think of it as a long-term chronic disorder and also because they believe that all sleep-related problems warrant prescription medication. While modern science and tech have been providing us with easy one-pill-a-night solutions, they are not without side effects. As a result, it keeps a lot of people from seeking a possible answer to their sleep problems.
Why are Essential Oils for Sleep the Best Alternative for Sleeping Pills?
If you are thinking about trying medication, here are a few things you should know.
- Sleeping pills cannot be a long-term solution since people can build up a tolerance to the compounds and the dosage.
- Sleeping medication can cause hangover-like symptoms in adults the next day. It increases the risks for individuals driving themselves to work early in the morning and also for those who are operating heavy machinery on a regular basis.
- Some can develop a dependency or an addiction to sleeping pills. Discontinuing the medication can lead to depressive symptoms.
- There are several categories of prescription medications that can cause erratic behavior changes in the patient. Compounds like triazolam can increase chances of sleepwalking and exacerbate amnesia.
- Taking sleeping pills for a long time can make it very difficult for an individual to “wean off.” It is like cold turkey, and you can experience worse spells of long sleepless nights due to the sudden cessation.
- Some sleeping medication interferes with the activity of blood pressure medication. Taking some somnolent compounds with antidepressants and antipsychotics can have unpleasant side effects. You should always disclose the complete details of all medicines you are on to your sleep specialist.
- Mixing sleeping medication and alcohol increase the levels of intoxication. Health risks are much higher for individuals who drink regularly or use recreational drugs.
Why do People go for Sleeping Medications?
Now, you must be wondering why people take sleeping medication at all if the health risks involved with the practice are so high. It is mostly because long-term insomnia, delayed sleep onset, and poor-quality sleep usually have worse effects on the brain and the body, than sleeping medication does.
We need sleep for normal functioning, maintenance of health and our wellbeing. Here are the few reasons why you should probably pay a little more attention to your sleep than you already do.
- Sound sleep helps in transforming short-term memory to long-term memory.
- It helps your brain to act like a learning machine that overflows with new information regularly.
- During sleep, the brain directs several repair and rejuvenation tasks inside the body.
- Good sleep boosts the immune system and charges our immunity generating organs.
- Sleep is vital for fighting fatigue, depression and hormonal disorders.
- You need sound sleep every night to fight obesity, blood pressure problems, and mood swings.
Several painters, mathematicians, and scientists often state that they got their best ideas while they were sleeping. It is not at all surprising since connecting the dots using the information we already have is more natural in the subconscious, while we are sleeping.
How Much Healthy Sleep do You Need?
The average child between the age of 6 and 12 needs about 10 hours of sleep, teenagers need about 8 hours of sleep and adults can function with 7-9 hours of sleep. The elderly usually need more sleep since their bodies need a longer time to heal. The case is similarly applicable for the sick. The sick may require up to 10 hours of sleep per day.
The longer a person sleeps, the faster his or her body heals. It is just one reason why many people go into a pseudo-hibernation mode when they contract the flu or have stomach flu. Sleeping helps the body to conserve energy by restricting movement and saving more for the repairs. A sleep-deprived brain is a tired brain. Sleeping is not a luxury for the kids and the elderly only. Even a healthy adult needs their regular dose of sleep for the best performance every day.
What are the Best Natural Sleep-Inducing Agents?
These provide reason enough for any responsible adult to look for healthier alternatives. Thanks to the advancements of modern sciences, people have found evidence on how essential oils can stimulate nerve signals, relax muscles and calm the senses. Some of the more potent, natural aromatic oils can act just as well as any sleeping medication or chemically generated compound to induce sound sleep in adults.
- Unlike most of the synthesized somnolent, these essential oil blends are perfect for people of all ages.
- When you use them in the right doses, you do not experience any side effects or adverse hang-over like symptoms the last day.
- They usually do not interact with other medicines.
- They come with several other benefiting effects for all individuals.
- Essential oils are not harmful for long-term usage.
- You can quickly switch between aroma oils to check which one works the best for you, without any adverse effects on health.
- You can mix and match various aromatic oils for bathing, aroma dispensers, candles, and tea, depending on your choice and necessities.
- Essential oils are a highly concentrated form of aromatic extracts from flowers, fruits, leaves, and trees and this makes them highly useful for their particular purposes.
The 9 Natural Essential Oils That can Make you Sleep Like a Baby
Just like medication, not all essential oils for sleep work efficiently for everyone. These are naturally occurring aromatic compounds. Therefore, their action depends on the presence of several receptors in your body, levels of natural hydrocarbons, and other essential minerals needed for the activity of these aromatic compounds. So, here’s a list of the nine most active essential oils that can change the way you sleep at night from today!
Ylang-ylang means flower of the flowers. This essential oil gets its name due to the strong and sweet smell of the concentrate. The flowers that produce this oil are prevalent in the Orient for their hypertension controlling and/or treating properties.
Researchers have been exploring the beneficial effects of Ylang-ylang, and right now, hundreds of cosmetic brands use this essential oil in their products. Healthcare brands are manufacturing directly consumable forms of this essential oil for their patrons.
- Ylang-ylang is a potent anti-depressant that does not warrant any aberrant side effects the chemical compounds and synthetic dopamine blockers have.
- This essential oil also has antiseptic and antiseborrheic properties.
- Most importantly, Ylang-ylang helps people sleep. It has somnolent properties and nervine properties, without significant side effects.
The presence of terpenes, sesquiterpenes, quinines, and anti-oxidants make it extremely desirable to people looking for a relaxant, somnolent, and an antidepressant from the natural sources. There are several ways you can use Ylang-ylang for getting a good night’s sleep.
- Steep it with your tea.
- Mix it with your bath water.
- Blend with the carrier oil and use it in your aroma dispenser.
- You can also mix it with almond oil or coconut oil for a gentle, relaxing head massage.
- Mix it with distilled water to make it a ready-to-spritz solution.
Too much Ylang-ylang can cause nausea and headache. You can mix it with bergamot oil, lavender and sandalwood oil to unleash its calming powers.
Valerian essential oil can reduce stress and fatigue with continuous use. While the powers of valerian root were common knowledge among the alternative medicine experts in the Eastern countries, the Western countries are currently exploring valerian’s medicinal properties.
- Valerian essential oil can treat a variety of sleep disorders including late onset of sleep and insomnia.
- It can also help you with heart problems by reducing palpitations and regulating blood pressure.
- It can also reduce cramps during menstruation.
- Valerian root extract can prevent recurrence of depression, anxiety disorders and helps in relaxation.
Since ancient times, people involved in alternative medicine have been using valerian essential oil to improve sleep quality, enhance cognitive abilities, and heal fatigued muscles. Once people referred to it as the “heal all” oil, now it finds extensive use in aromatherapy. You can use it in a carrier oil mix for massages, or you can directly use it in your tea. In fact, getting your hands on some valerian root would be quite remarkable since you can brew herbal tea directly from either the dried root or fresh roots.
Roman Chamomile or chamomile is famous for its sedative effects and healing properties. Several talk shows, health shows, and movies have shown how chamomile can help people fall asleep faster without struggles each day. Only a few do not know about its sedative properties.
You can make tea from the flowers or use the essential oil from chamomile to achieve desired results. For centuries, kings and commoners alike have used it to fight their battle against delayed sleep disorders, insomnia and poor quality of sleep.
- Chamomile can relieve stress and fatigue.
- It can relax your tightly wound muscles at the end of the day and help you fall asleep.
- It is a powerful tool to fight off depression and anxiety disorders.
- Chamomile improves sleep duration and quality, thereby improving immunity.
It is powerful enough to induce sleep in adults, yet gentle enough for children. Aside from being a sleep aid, chamomile can also relieve arthritis pain, improve heart ailments, and boost digestive powers in adults and children alike.
Neroli or bitter orange blossom essential oil has a sweet citrus like smell. It is fruity and floral at the same time. You could easily say that it has a terpene-like top note. The light floral fragrance can calm your senses with its dual note effects. Depending on the career oil you are using, neroli can act as a top note or a base note.
- It successfully reduces stress and improves mood.
- It reduces cortisol levels and helps in the production of calming neurotransmitters.
- Neroli essential oil exhibits rejuvenating activities.
- It lowers anxiety levels and stress levels to help people fall asleep.
You can blend it with clary sage, frankincense, chamomile, orange, myrrh, palmarosa, rose, Ylang-ylang, lemon, mandarin or juniper for the best calming effects. The best way to enjoy the benefits of neroli is by using it for aromatherapy and bathing. The right amount can not only help you get sound sleep, but it can also help you get glowing skin with long-lasting relief from acne.
You can commonly find notes of neroli in perfumes, makeup, and creams. You can infuse it with your herbal tea or merely use it in your summer skin spray mix. It soothes your skin, prevents breakouts, controls sebum and takes care of sun damage when you use it in the right blend. You can also mix it with carrier oils and use it as massaging oil on your entire body. Use it with your cold compress to treat neuralgia. You can dip a cotton ball in some essential oil and leave it by your bedside for sniffing all throughout the night.
Cedarwood oil can help restore your sleep-wakefulness balance with a few drops per day. It has a signature woody aroma that is both aromatic and comforting. It has the power to cleanse and calm. In addition to its calming properties, cedarwood oil is also famous for its anti-hair fall properties, weight loss effects, skin soothing properties, and treatment of selective allergies.
Cedarwood has found numerous uses around the globe in households and houses of healing. Here are a few ways you can use it to experience better sleep.
- You can use cedarwood oil topically. Take only two drops on your finger and massage well on your neck, head, and back. For better spreading, you should use it with complementing carrier oil.
- You can choose to diffuse it in the air quite effortlessly by mixing the oil with water in a spray bottle.
- You can also use the cedarwood oil in a mixture with other carrier oils in aroma diffusers. Both electric diffusers and candle heated ones are alright for this oil.
You can also inhale the aroma of this oil directly. Soak a cotton ball in a few drops of oil and put it inside your pillowcase or open the bottle and inhale the fumes for over 30 seconds for feeling the calmness. The best carrier oils for cedarwood include coconut oil, jojoba oil, grapeseed oil, and olive oil. It is ideal to choose one and mix the cedarwood oil with it before use.
Several other essential oils blend well with cedarwood oil to enhance its calming abilities. You can try Ylang-Ylang, lavender, sandalwood, vetiver, neroli, jasmine and bergamot for the best results. Each of these has a distinct aroma, but all of them have soothing effects on the nerves.
Sandalwood oil contributes to anti-spasmodic, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and astringent effects in human beings. It is also responsible for carminative actions. Above all, it balances all the organ systems and biomechanics. It brings forth the necessary homeostasis the body requires for proper functioning. Sandalwood has a powerful sedative effect which further helps to boost adequate health, memory, and immunity.
There are three main types of sandalwood and essential oils. The Indian sandalwood is the most effective among the three, Hawaiian sandalwood follows close. The Australian sandalwood finds more use in the commercial cosmetics industry and has fewer known positive effects on health.
- Sandalwood has a high content of santalenes, santalol, and santyl acetate. They have a soothing effect on the nervous system.
- You can buy them as incense sticks, perfumes, home sprays or create handmade scented candles and sprays from the essential oil.
- Mix it with the carrier oil and use it as massaging oil for your body and scalp.
- Mixing sandalwood essential oil with edibles can help boost your digestive system, reduce acid refluxes, and boost calmness of the organ systems.
- Directly inhaling the scent from concentrated essential oil bottles is often overwhelming, but the strong smell can induce sleep instantly.
- Mixing it with almond oil for body massage purposes helps in the reduction of systolic blood pressure and regulates eye-blink rate. It reduces physical stress and promotes a healthy resting state of the body.
Various researchers show that sandalwood oil can boost alertness. In part, because it can help your body find the rest it needs each night and in part because the distinct sweet aroma of the essential oil awakens the nerve synapses.
When buying sandalwood essential oil always try to go for the Indian sandalwood variety. Experts source this oil from the heartwood of the Indian sandalwood tree. Although the tree is now scarce and the oil is expensive, due to the concentrated bioactive aromatic compounds, you will require only 2-3 drops each time to experience a superlative quality of sleep.
Marjoram essential oil has multiple uses besides the regular culinary use. It has been popular as an analgesic, digestive, diuretic, sedative and hypotensive. Just like other essential oils, several active compounds make marjoram one of the most popular essential oils in the history of aromatic oils.
It has a protective and enhancing effect on the nervous system. Marjoram can improve cognitive functions and enhances sleep quality. Marjoram has multi-faceted uses. Here are a few ways you can experience the relaxing and healing effects of it at home.
- You can use it as a linen spray to refresh your sheets and induce better sleep each night. Mix seven drops of marjoram oil with seven drops of lavender essential oil and 150 ml of water.
- Mix marjoram oil with almond oil or coconut oil to use it as a soothing massage oil.
- Respiratory disorders can find relief with the continuous use of marjoram essential oil in the mixture. Use it in a diffuser for experiencing relief from respiratory stress during sleep.
- You can also use it as calming oil. You can dilute it with other lighter oils including jojoba, almond or olive oil and apply it on your neck and back to soothe tension.
- Put it in the diffuser to infuse your home with the sweet and calming smell of the marjoram essential oil. The sweet note will help you sleep.
In the Mediterranean region, people have been using marjoram essential oil for centuries. The oil usually comes from the distillation of dried leaves or fresh leaves of the knotted marjoram plants. It has scientifically proven medicinal uses. It contains several therapeutic compounds like alpha-terpinene, cymene, terpinolene, linalyl acetate and terpinols. The combined action of these compounds along with others promotes muscle relaxation, reduces pain and controls anxiety. Marjoram is excellent for inducing relaxation of the nervous system, and it improves sleep.
Vetiver is a widespread grass usually found in the tropics. It is very common in India. The Indian tribal communities have been using vetiver for centuries to weave mats, room separators, and curtains. Even without mechanical extractions the wet or dried grass releases a sweet, soothing aroma that instantly cools the body, releases the heat trapped inside the systems, and helps the muscles relax and promote sleep. It is a complex mix of some essential oils that has found a stronghold in the treatment of insomnia, ADHD, and depression too.
You can create your mix of vetiver essential oil by soaking the roots in boiling water for 2 to 3 hours. Since vetiver mostly contains aromatic compounds, you must remember to close the lid of the container as the water boils or you will end up losing all the aromatic compounds.
- Use 2-3 drops of the oil with 100 ml of plain water and use as a linen spray.
- Mix about 8 to 10 drops of oil in your bath water to treat your muscle pains and insomnia.
- Use 3-5 drops of the oil regularly to prevent fatigue. Place one drop on each wrist, neck, and chest to induce relaxation.
- Mix vetiver oil and jojoba oil, five drops each. Use it as a calming massage oil to relax your dry skin and boost freshness.
The qualities of the oil come from the calming properties of the biochemical components from the roots of the grass. It has a very fresh, herbaceous smell that is not unlike the calming smell of freshly cut grass right after a refreshing bout of rain. It is indeed one of the most complex essential oils that can boost the immune system, repels bugs, stimulates muscle relaxation, and promotes sound sleep. It is one of the safest essential oils with very few possible side effects. It is safe for the new mother, infant, elderly and for people undergoing chemotherapy. Try it at home for busting stress after a long day.
Frankincense essential oil is an excellent product of the Boswellia sacra tree. The oil has a unique aroma. It comes from the sap or the resin of the tree. The resin is quite thick since it has a high consistency of carbohydrates and aromatic compounds. Distillation of this resin produces the highly concentrated essential oil for aromatherapy and healing treatments.
Frankincense has found several mentions in popular literature, alternative medicine, and modern medicine. In the last decade, the popularity of this essential oil has grown steadily due to its soothing and sedative properties. It has alpha-pinene, limonene, beta-pinene and alpha-thujene. These are a few compounds you can also find in several other essential oils including lemongrass and lemon. Monoterpenes are the other ubiquitous aromatic compounds in Frankincense essential oil that contribute to its characteristic smell.
- You can experience the complete benefits of Frankincense by mixing it with grapefruit essential oil, Douglas fir, and water in 1:1:2:5 ratios. Put this in a spray bottle and use it as a room freshener before going to bed.
- Add the essential oil to your electric aroma diffuser before yoga and after a bath. It will give a beautiful and calm start to your mornings.
- Add 1 to 2 drops of the essential oil to your night herbal tea. Consumption of frankincense can help in the promotion of good sleep at night.
- Combining Frankincense with your moisturizer or cream before bed will elicit a soft, spicy and warm smell that will easily lull you to sleep without any side effects.
While Frankincense is quite powerful in inducing good sleep, you can blend it with lemon, wild orange, sandalwood, Ylang-Ylang, rose, and geranium to enhance its healing powers. Adding other aromatic essential oils can add an extra dose of sweetness, freshness or spice to the eponymous warmth of frankincense essential oil.
What do Experts NOT tell you About Essential Oils?
Before you can go out and buy a bottle of your favorite essential oil, you need to know a few secrets that no one is possibly telling you.
- Just like all organic compounds, you must test your essential oil choices for allergies. Your seasonal allergies or recurring allergies are a result of repetitive exposure to protein fragments or biologically active compounds. Essential oils can potentially elicit allergies especially if you are selectively allergic to certain flowers or fruits. For example, some people show severe allergies to Jasmine or rose. They are likely to experience some discomfort in the presence of jasmine or aromatic rose oils.
- Many of us are likely to believe that essential oils should not have any side effects since they are all “natural.” However, have you ever thought about the causes of your respiratory disorders, hives, or rashes? Most of the allergies are a result of exposure to “natural” components. So, believing that essential oils will not have any side effects or equal side effects on everyone is fallacious.
- Certain essential oils can be harmful to children, pregnant women, and lactating women. For example, peppermint is not a great option if you have children, pets or new mothers in the house. It is imperative to dilute the essential oils correctly to experience their healing effects. Not using them in the right blend can lead to unusual side effects or no positive results at all!
- The safest way to use essential oils is by diluting them and using them topically or merely using them in a diffuser. When you come across a new essential oil in the market which no one knows much about, try it in your diffuser or room spray first. If you see that it works in relaxing you and calming you down before bed, maybe you can mix one drop with your moisturizer or cream for topical use. When it comes to internal use or consumption, do so with extreme caution.
- Since these essential oils are nothing but products of the repeated distillation of leaves, flowers, buds, or barks, these are extremely concentrated and powerful. Unlike several other “natural” alternative therapies, these are super strong. So, if your prescribed dosage is not working, you need to consult an expert immediately instead of experimenting with higher dosAside from being a sleep aid, chamomile can also relieve arthritis pain, improve heart ailments, and boost digestive powers in adults and children alike.es.
Essential oils can help you fight off insomnia successfully, but only with correct use. They are very powerful and do not take a lot of time to elicit their actions. They should not make you feel light-headed, dizzy or nauseous. In case you are feeling out of sorts, you should stop using the particular essential oil and consult your doctor.
Co-founder of Counting Sheep and Sleepaholic