Top 5 essential oils for a better night’s sleep
While experts recommend getting a bare minimum of seven hours of sleep per night and often suggest eight or nine for optimal health, a majority of Americans get far less. Many people who are looking to deepen their sleep — and enjoy the related benefits — are trying essential oils for sleep.
Most essential oils for sleep are pleasant to the senses and easy to use, whether by diffuser circulation, applying them topically to pulse points with a carrier oil, or adding a few drops to a bath before bed. It only takes a few seconds to welcome a deeper state of restfulness, and each application costs at most a few cents.
When you inhale a scent, your nose sends signals to the limbic system of your brain, which controls memory and emotion. Taking in a fragrance also triggers areas of the brain that regulate your heart rate, blood pressure, respiration and muscle control. When it comes to essential oils for sleep, these six scents are known as the superstars, helping you ease into slumber and enjoy their restorative properties.
Known primarily for its use in one of the most popular types of tea in the world, chamomile — specifically, Roman chamomile — offers a calming scent and mild, agreeable flavor when ingested. As an essential oil for sleep, it retains those same soothing qualities and will send you off to sleep with a sense of peace.
Look at the ingredients of any scented eye mask or travel pillow and you’ll likely find lavender; that’s because it’s the essential oil most commonly associated with sleep. Reputable academic studies have shown that exposure to lavender can increase the amount of slow-wave sleep a person gets. That’s the type of slumber in which the pulse slows down and the body’s muscles relax more deeply while the brain organizes its memories.
Similar to lavender, coriander contains linalool, which is a natural chemical found in some flowers and spices. In lab tests, it’s been shown to reduce the activity of genes that are typically overstimulated during stressful situations. As a result, it’s thought to have a psychologically calming effect on the body.
When it comes to deep sleep in the night and alertness in the morning, vetiver seems to pack a punch in both realms. Shown in one prominent lab test to encourage wakefulness and proven in other studies to promote improved sleep quality among women who recently gave birth, the effects of the Indian bunchgrass (also known as “khus”) may vary from person to person. In any case, a little of its sharp, earthy scent goes a long way, so use sparingly.
The perfumed flowers of the cananga tree, found in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, are commonly referred to as ylang ylang and known for their sweet, almost fruity aroma; a climbing vine in the same family produces the fragrant flowers as well. Renowned for their sedative properties and pleasant scent, the blooms contain considerable amounts of linalool, the same chemical that naturally occurs in fellow essential oils for sleep like lavender and coriander.
A popular oil used to tame restlessness and sleep interruptions, valor is actually composed of four ingredients: black spruce, blue tansy, rosewood and frankincense. If your breathing tends to rattle you (or a companion) awake at night, it might be worth a look. While no widely-received studies have yet been published on the topic, anecdotal evidence suggests that valor oil may be effective in reducing snoring.
Written by Amy Lynch
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