And just like that, Hanukkah is here and Christmas is around the corner. Work aside, it’s time for festivities, togetherness, and celebration. That said, the holidays are hectic and stressful—and we end up feeling exhausted by the start of the new year. In the spirit of peace, today we’re talking about rest. Specifically, how to amplify your nighttime rituals to get the restoration you deserve. Turns out, incorporating an essential oil into your nightly routine could keep you from tossing and turning at night. Let’s dive into essential oils for sleep and how to use them.
HOW MUCH SLEEP DO I NEED?
Did you know that 50-70 million Americans have chronic sleep issues? And as of 2014, roughly 35 percent of U.S. adults sleep less than seven hours per night? If you relate to one (or both) of these categories, you’re not alone. While getting enough sleep is important, sleeping too much can be just as detrimental for your health. So, much sleep do you need? In terms of how much sleep is enough, that varies. The amount of sleep you need, specifically, depends on various factors—your age, lifestyle, menstrual cycle, etc. While sleep needs vary significantly among individuals, consider these general guidelines for different age groups:
|Age group||Recommended amount of sleep|
|Infants 4 months to 12 months||12 to 16 hours per 24 hours, including naps|
|1 to 2 years||11 to 14 hours per 24 hours, including naps|
|3 to 5 years||10 to 13 hours per 24 hours, including naps|
|6 to 12 years||9 to 12 hours per 24 hours|
|13 to 18 years||8 to 10 hours per 24 hours|
|Adults||7 or more hours a night|
There is research that suggests men need less sleep than women. Studies show women not only need more sleep than men, but they also tend to sleep about 11 minutes longer every night. Speaking from personal experience, I tend to have more energy, focus, and mood stability when I sleep seven hours. However, my husband can thrive off of less sleep. The newborn stage was an entirely different ballgame, of course, but that experience taught me the power of being adaptable. After all, being sleep-deprived—as a new mom—is temporary.
WHAT IS A BEDTIME ROUTINE?
A bedtime routine is a set of activities you perform in the same order, every night. They begin roughly 30-60 minutes before you go to bed. Bedtime routines can vary, but they often include calming activities like dimming the lights, taking a warm bath, brewing a cup of herbal tea, cleansing and moisturizing your skin, reading, journaling, or meditating. Of course, incorporating essential oils for sleep and how to use them is key, too. Bedtime routines help you prepare for sleep by setting aside time to relax and calm down. And—spoiler alert—they’re the secret sauce for becoming a morning person.
See here for four simple rituals to incorporate into your bedtime routine.
What are essential oils?
Essential oils are a natural alternative to sleep medicines, offering an array of therapeutic benefits for relaxing the mind and body. These oils are the liquid compounds extracted from plants, acquired through distillation with steam or other mechanical methods (i.e. cold pressing). When in oil form, the plant’s scent becomes more prominent, in turn, making it more effective in preparing the body for rest. Their powerful aromas work to ease sleep disruptions, such as snoring, sleep apnea, and night-time stuffiness. In essence, some essential oils have relaxing effects, so when you smell these fragrances, your body’s receptors send calming signals to the brain—helping your body decompress.
How to use essential oils at bedtime
Given that essential oils are incredibly versatile, you can incorporate them into your bedtime routine by adding them in a hot bath or even into a diffuser. Additionally, many people find it soothing to rub a few drops of oil onto their chest, wrist, neck, forehead, hands, or feet. Before you apply your essential oil, mix it with a carrier oil—like olive oil or coconut oil. The skin can be sensitive to undiluted essential oils, and irritations may develop. If you opt for a warm bath, combine 5-20 drops with a tablespoon of carrier oil before adding the blend to your bathwater. As you soak, the oils absorb through your skin to help you decompress and release tension. Not to mention, they offer a wonderful aroma!
Which essential oil is best for you?
It’s important to remember many essential oils are adaptogens—meaning they adapt to people differently. Some fragrances, like peppermint or citrus oils, might be too stimulating for sleep and can keep you from falling asleep. It’s best to test out your oil for a couple of nights to ensure your body is relaxed and your sleep quality is enhanced. All of that said, what scent is right for you? What are the best essential oils for sleep and how to use them? To help you find the right essential oil, look no further.
8 Essential oils for sleep issues
Below are scents to try to tackle a variety of sleep problems.
1. for stress and anxiety: Lavender oil
Lavender is the most researched herb for sleep. It’s revered for its ability to reduce stress and anxiety. As an essential oil, it’s known to relax the body’s muscles to promote restfulness, leading to more deep (REM) sleep, and this type of sleep is the most restorative kind of rest. It allows your brain to recover from daily activities.
2. for snoring: Vanilla oil
As one of the most recognizable fragrances, vanilla is a powerful antioxidant and relaxant. Vanilla contains anti-inflammatory properties proven to help with nighttime breathing. Therefore, it’s an especially good choice for those suffering from sleep apnea (particularly in babies!) and snoring (eucalpytus and peppermint are helpful for snoring, too).
3. for restlessness: CHAMOMILE OIL
Chamomile is a plant extract containing apigenin, a chemical compound that can induce sleepiness when it binds to the brain’s receptors. Additionally, apigenin increases levels of serotonin, a chemical responsible for regulating your body’s internal clock. Your body uses serotonin to produce the sleep hormone melatonin as this helps with fighting against restlessness.
4. for joint pain: Cedarwood oil
Cedarwood is known for its woody aroma and has been characterized as warm and comforting sedative. Like lavender, cedarwood oil also eases pressure on the joints to provide a more peaceful sleep experience. Furthermore, this essential oil stimulates blood circulation and helps prevent numbness, tingling, and muscle cramps while asleep.
5. For easing racing thoughts: Bergamot Oil
Bergamot oil is an extract produced from prickly trees called citrus bergamia, originating in the tropical climates of Southeast Asia. While some citrus oils may be too stimulating for sleep, bergamot is unique as it relaxes the body by potentially lowering blood pressure. These calming qualities can help ease racing thoughts, encouraging more peaceful rest.
6. For Insomnia: Jasmine Oil
Jasmine is another popular essential oil used to tackle sleep disruptions. Its powerful fragrance promotes feelings of tranquility. What sets this essential oil apart from others is its molecular structure. In fact, research suggests jasmine is just as effective as prescription remedies for sleeplessness.
7. For stress ease: Geranium Oil
Struggling to fall asleep each night can increase cortisol, a hormone responsible for regulating stress. However, inhaling, geranium can lower cortisol in the body and keep your nerves calm. Geranium oil’s light floral fragrance has shown, anecdotally, to act as an antidepressant to ease insomnia-induced stress.
8. For congestion: Peppermint Oil
Whether you experience chronic or acute congestion, peppermint oil can be beneficial because its stimulating fragrance clears the nasal passage and allows for more airflow.
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This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and we recommend that you always consult with your healthcare provider.