The Healing Power of Aromatherapy – 8 Essential Oils for Sleep Management and Relaxation

My kind of Zen - The Healing Power of Aromatherapy

Essential oils are very concentrated extracts from plants, used for thousands of years in alternative medicine, cosmetic and perfumery fields because of the curative potential for the body, mind and spirit. They modulate mental functions and act as mood enhancers. Scents work through the nervous system, having impact on our health, mood and general well-being.

Stress and the modern life are the main causes of sleep disturbance that can induce a decrease in judgment, concentration and an increase in irritability. Lack of sleep is a problem for many individuals that are looking for natural, non-dependent ways to promote sleep and wellness while decreasing stress and anxiety.

Poor sleep can cause health-related issues such as hypertension, diabetes, cancer, obesity, depression and others. Insomnia affects about one third of the adult population. Statistics show that about 50-70 million US adults experience problems falling asleep, maintaining sleep or insufficient sleep.

Sleep management solutions according to scientific research

So, what is the healing power of aromatherapy when it comes to better sleep and stress relief?

Studies have shown that some essential oils can help with stress relief and promote sleep improvement. The essential oils fragrances work by sending signals to the brain to release neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and endorphins that are associated with feelings of peace and happiness. The inhalation of volatile components are believed to impact our bodies through the nervous system. Inhalation of essential oils may be a safe alternative to other chemicals or drugs for mild to moderate insomnia. (1*)

Aromatherapy was also found to help reduce anxiety and depression in women with postpartum depression (3*). The study indicated that aromatherapy was effective in the improvement of mothers’ sleep quality.

The 8 most researched essential oils for sleep management

So, what are my 8 top essential oils choices for a better sleep? Let’s explore the benefits of essential oils backed up by scientific research!

My kind of Zen - Best Essential Oils for Sleep Managment

  1. Lavander is the top of mind choice when we talk about sleep improvement and relaxation and it is also one of the most studied essential oils in this field (1*). Linalool, the main component of lavander, has a sedative effect when used in aromatherapy. Another study conducted suggest anxiolytic, mood stabilizer, sedative, analgesic, anticonvulsive and neuroprotective properties for lavender (2*). Overall, lavender has been suggested as a great natural remedy to treat mild insomnia and sleep disorders.
  2. Sandalwood is another essential oil that promise sleep-inducing properties. It is a mood balancer, calming the mind and relaxing the body for sleep. Santalol, a main component of this oil, has been reported to have calming effects close to sedation in animals, a significant decrease in total waking time and an increase in total non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep time (4*).
  3. Cedarwood is a natural sleep aid that helps with stress relief. One study conducted in animals (5*) shows that cedarwood has sedative properties.
  4. Bergamot is a hybrid of bitter orange and lemon. A study (6*) found that bergamot essential oil has aromatherapy benefits such as reducing stress and anxiety, helps improve mood and facilitates sleep induction. So bergamot can be another essential oil of choice for sleep troubles.
  5. Ylang-Ylang has soothing and relaxing properties for better sleep. A study (7*) revealed that subjects in the Ylang-Ylang group stated an improved state of calmness and relaxation than subjects in the control group. Overall, the study suggested a relief of depression and stress in humans. This study (8*) is a compilation of reviews that show the ylang-ylang essential oil properties. Some of these indicate that the oil possess relaxing, sedative effect, reducing stress index from high level to medium level, decreased autonomic nervous arousal and both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in humans.
  6. Vetiver One analysis (9*) confirmed that Vetiver essential oil inhalation significantly increased total waking and reduced slow-wave sleep time. Also, the same study suggest refreshing properties of Vetiver oil on electrical brain activity and alertness.
  7. Valerian is another effective natural sleep aid. After reviewing 370 articles, 16 clinical studies and a total of 1093 patients, this extract concluded that Valerian is commonly used to induce sleep and improve sleep quality. Actually, people taking Valerian had a 80% better chance to report improved sleep (10*).
  8. Chamomile may reduce the amount of time it takes to fall asleep and help you sleep better, is a natural aid in insomnia. Essential oils of chamomile are used extensively in aromatherapy and cosmetics due to chamomile’s anti-inflamatory properties. Also, chamomile tea is very popular and is known to facilitate sleep and induce sedation. Chamomile is widely acknowledged as a mild tranquilizer and sleep-inducer. One study review (11*) stated that inhalation of the vaporized essential oils derived from chamomile flowers is recommended to relieve anxiety and depression.

 

Studies:

  1. A systematic review of effect of inhaled essential oils on sleep.
  2. Lavender and the Nervous System.
  3. The effects of clinical aromatherapy for anxiety and depression in the high risk postpartum woman – a pilot study.
  4. Effect of santalol on the sleep-wake cycle in sleep-disturbed rats.
  5. The sedative effects and mechanism of action of cedrol inhalation with behavioral pharmacological evaluation.
  6. The sedative effects and mechanism of action of cedrol inhalation with behavioral pharmacological evaluation.
  7. Citrus bergamia essential oil: from basic research to clinical application.
  8. Relaxing effect of ylang ylang oil on humans after transdermal absorption.
  9. Traditional Uses, Phytochemistry, and Bioactivities of Cananga odorata (Ylang-Ylang)
  10. Modification of sleep-waking and electroencephalogram induced by vetiver essential oil inhalation
  11. Valerian for Sleep: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
  12. Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future

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