Traditional Chinese medicine makes use of aromatherapy to help people sleep better. What is aromatherapy? It is the practice of using the scent of essential oils derived from plants to heal various ailments, one of which is insomnia. Aromatherapy is used to induce calm, relaxation and has been proven to help ease anxiety and alleviate mild depression. People who practice aromatherapy can use healing scents to create different mental and emotional states, including sleepiness.
Aromatherapy for Sleep
Aromatherapy to induce calm, relaxation, and sleep has become so popular that some hospitals use premade nasal inhalers, which contain essential plant oils like lavender to help patients sleep better.
While there are aromatherapy scent devices on the internet, you can make your own aromatherapy sachet to put on your nightstand or by your pillow to alleviate insomnia.
Remember that each person can respond differently to the various scents of plants used in aromatherapy. Some types of aromatherapy use just one herb, while others combine herbs for maximal effect.
Commonly Used Essential Oils For Sleep
- Lavender – Lavender can be used as an essential oil made from the lavender flower or as a sachet made from fresh or dried Lavender flowers. Research in Europe has shown that inhaling the scent of lavender promotes relaxation and sleepiness. One study was done on 56 patients in an ICU ward. Those who inhaled Lavender slept better than those who did not.
- Vetiver – This root plant can be ground or distilled to make an essential oil for sleep induction. It has an earthy smell and can be mixed with Chamomile and/or Lavender.
- Ylang Ylang – Ylang Ylang has been used for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine to promote good sleep. It has a nice fruity and floral scent that will induce a good night’s sleep.
- Roman Chamomile – This is a type of chamomile that when inhaled induces a calm and relaxed state of mind that is perfect for going to sleep. It can be used in its ground or “loose” form in a sachet or used as an essential oil. It smells like flowers.
- Bergamot – Bergamot is a cold-pressed oil that is derived from the peel or rind of the bergamot citrus fruit. This is to be distinguished from other citrus fruits, such as oranges or grapefruits, which tend to stimulate the senses. Bergamot is soothing and calming; it helps balance emotions so you can sleep better. You can use it in dried form or simply breathe in the essential oil. It blends well with other sleep-inducing herbal formulations used in aromatherapy.
- Marjoram – This is a spice used not only in cooking but has great uses in the world of aromatherapy. It is a known muscle relaxer when inhaled and helps induce a more comfortable sleep.
- Sandalwood – This is used primarily as an essential oil created from the Sandalwood tree. Put a few drops on a handkerchief or soft towel and sleep with it next to or on your pillow.
- Frankincense – Smoke from the burning oil of Frankincense contains incensole acetate that helps to alleviate anxiety and depression, both of which are key factors in many chronic insomnia conditions.
- Valerian – Valerian essential oil is one of the oldest and most studied in terms of helping to improve insomnia and quality of sleep. It contains compounds that activate GABA receptors in the brain and balances the body’s cycles that facilitate undisturbed sleep. Valerian essential oil also helps anxiety, depression and can improve mood. Anxiety and depression are two of the main causes of anxiety and the scent of this oil reduces negative energy and chemicals in the body to bring peace, calm and the ability to rest.
- Clary Sage – Clary Sage functions like Valerian by affecting GABA receptors in the brain. One study showed that clary sage essential oils offer significant anti-stress effects. This oil is also used for patients who suffer from depression.
How to use Aromatherapy
- Essential oil diffusers are devices you can place on your nightstand so that the aroma of the essential oil can be diffused into the air, creating a wonderful-smelling therapy for the induction of sleep.
- You can take any herb listed above and use them in fresh or dried forms to create a sachet you keep with you next to or on your bed. The aromas fill the air around your sleep space so that you don’t have as much trouble getting to sleep.
- You can also dilute essential oil with vegetable oil and rub it onto the skin. It is especially good when placed on the back of the neck or on the soles of the feet for a comfortable environment for sleeping.
- Essential oil candles are also available, just be sure to look for high quality products that note essential oil as an ingredient.
- Essential oils can also be dropped into a hot bath to relax the muscles and mind as part of a nightly sleep ritual.