- Alternative & Natural Medicine
Aromatherapy for Insomnia & Sleep Disturbances
Not getting a good night's sleep can wreak havoc on your waking life. Insomnia comes in two forms-the inability to fall asleep or the inability to stay asleep (when tired and given adequate opportunity)-and both respond extremely well to the use of aromatherapy. Using essential oils to soothe and relax your body and mind can provide the relief you need, without the use of prescription medications or over-the-counter drugs.
Many essential oils can aid in relaxation, but there are a few that are particularly conducive to sleep itself. These oils are especially suited to the treatment of insomnia, as they soothe the nervous system and the anxiety-ridden brain alike. They will not knock you out, as some medications do, nor leave you drowsy in the morning. Aromatherapy will not "put" you to sleep. It simply builds a bridge, as it were, between you and the rest you need and deserve, enabling you to cross into that state in a gentle, natural way.
Tools for Better Sleep
Essential Oils for Insomnia
You may have had it recommended to you to try (or may already practice the ritual of) having a cup of chamomile or peppermint tea before bed. This home remedy actually has real merit, as dried chamomile and peppermint contain a small amount of their respective essential oils. Of course, to use the pure oil itself is much more effective.
A few other light, floral oils can also be particularly helpful for insomnia. These include:
- essential oil of lavender
- essential oil of jasmine
- essential oil of melissa
- essential oil of neroli
- essential oil of sweet marjoram
Methods of Application
To gain the full benefits of these oils, I recommend drawing a bath in the evening and adding 5-10 drops total of whatever oils you choose. (Once you have discovered which oils work best for you, you may want to mix your own blend, and use 5-10 drops of that.) The warm water allows for steam inhalation, while it opens pores and allows the oils to enter the body transdermally.
If your lifestyle or schedule does not allow for a warm bath, blend 5-10 drops of essential oil (or a combination of them) into 2 or 3 tablespoons of carrier oil (jojoba, sweet almond, apricot kernal, even extra-virgin olive oil) ahead of time, and store in a clean, dry, airtight container out of direct sunlight. At bed time, or a few minutes before, rub a few drops of this mixture on your temples, wrists, and sternum (breastbone). Both the carrier and essential oils will be absorbed into the subcutaneous layer of fat, and thus enter your bloodstream, while the oil rubbed on your sternum and temples provide a soothing scent as you fall to sleep.
If you have particularly sensitive skin, or do not like the feeling of oil on your skin in bed, go the route of inhalation alone. Either put several drops of essential oil into a pot of boiling water (after removing from heat) and inhale the steam, use an aromatherapy diffuser, or sprinkle 2-3 drops of pure essential oil on a handkerchief or fabric scrap and tuck inside your pillowcase. Prior to sleeping, you can also burn a homemade aromatherapy soy candle. Just remember to blow it out before you actually climb into bed and drift off. =)
Whichever oils you choose, or whatever method of application you find you prefer, you can feel good about your decision to use aromatherapy, rather than drugs, to provide you with relief.