Essential oils for sleep – 10 oils to sleep better naturally

by Alison Angold CIDESCO ITEC

Whether it’s falling asleep or staying asleep, insomnia is very hard to deal with. Laying in bed at 3 am wide awake is so frustrating!! Tossing, turning desperately trying to switch off your mind, is something many people experience.

Using essential oils for sleep, could be the natural way to get a good nights sleep. Essential oils for insomnia or restless sleep are;

  • Cedarwood
  • Chamomile
  • Clary Sage
  • Frankincense
  • Lavender
  • Rose
  • Marjoram
  • Sandalwood
  • Valerian
  • Vetiver

What causes insomnia or restless sleep?

Hormonal issues

As our levels of oestrogen and progesterone decrease, falling asleep or more importantly staying asleep, becomes more and more difficult. This is partly due to the fact that progesterone is a sleep-producing hormone. The lack of it makes a good night sleep more elusive. This can happen mainly during menopause.

Along with our other symptoms of menopause, such as hot flushes, mood swings and anxiety, a good night sleep is essential to be able to cope with all these other issues.

Anxiety or Stress

Suffering with anxiety or stress means that our minds rarely switch off – this can be a literal nightmare when trying to sleep.

Your mind is constantly active with worry and you may then worry that you that you are not going to get to sleep, thus starting a vicious cycle.

Screen time before bed

Watching TV, looking at our phones, or playing video games very close to bed time, causes our minds to become active, when in fact we want our minds to calm and switch off. Try and switch off all devices at least half an hour before going to sleep.

Eating & drinking late

Going to bed with a full stomach can make you uncomfortable, which in turn makes sleep more elusive. Drinking a lot of liquids to close to going to bed, obviously risks needing to get up during the night, and this will play on your mind as you go to bed, making a restful sleep much harder.

Night sweats

Insomnia increases if you suffer with night sweats. As hormones fluctuate and particularly decrease, we get a surge of adrenaline. This is the same as the reaction we get when we experience something shocking or scary and our body goes into ‘fight’ or ‘flight’ mode, thus producing the intense sweating. Once we experience this surge in the body and begin to sweat, we wake and then find it much more difficult to get back to sleep.

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How do essential oils work?

Aromatherapy and essential oils have so many uses, and can benefit so many different conditions for the skin and the body.

Essential oils are the pure oils that are extracted from flower petals, leaves, fruit or herbs, and are so fine and pure that they have the ability to penetrate through the skin’s surface.

Because of this, they can get to work at a much deeper level of the skin, than a lot of other skincare ingredients. Most skincare products that we use only sit in the very top layers of the skin – which is needed – but the fact that essential oils can penetrate further, means they will have more of a beneficial effect on various conditions or symptoms that we may experience.

Furthermore, the molecules of the essential oils can penetrate through the membranes of the nose, when inhaled and reach various parts of the body this way.

Each essential oil has a variety of properties or therapeutic actions. It is important to be aware of these so you get an idea of what effect, the specific essential oil is going to have, and therefore if it is going to work.

So for example, an oil that has a relaxing effect on body, will help to reduce the heart and breathing rate – both of which will automatically relax the body as a whole.

Properties for essential oils for sleep –

  • Calming – has an overall calming effect on the body
  • Relaxing – has a general relaxing effect
  • Sedative – calms the nervous system

Essential oils for sleep

Cedarwood

This is a calming oil that is also a sedative for the nervous system. This means that the nerves will be calmed down so the mind can relax, thus inducing sleep.

(Avoid during pregnancy)

Chamomile

A good essential oil for insomnia. Chamomile is relaxing and calming. It is good for relieving anxiety and tension, so relaxes the mind and the body ready for sleep.

(Avoid during pregnancy)

Clary Sage

Clary sage not only relaxes muscles, but also soothes nervous tension and sedates the body as a whole.

(Avoid during pregnancy & before or after alcohol if applied topically)

Frankincense

A comforting, warming and relaxing oil that relaxes and calms an overactive mind.

Lavender

Lavender is an all round good oil that relieves so many symptoms. In the case of sleep, it helps to relieve stress and anxiety, relaxes and soothes tense muscles, and stress related conditions such as palpitations. All of this combined, really ready’s the body for sleep.

Marjoram

Calms and soothes the emotions and sedates the nervous system so really calming the body down in preparation for sleep.

(Avoid during pregnancy)

Rose

Rose relieves the symptoms of nervous tension and stress, and helps combat insomnia. It is a relaxing and sedating oil.

(Avoid during pregnancy)

Sandalwood

A relaxing, sedating oil that soothes tension, and relives insomnia.

Vetiver

Vetiver calms the central nervous system, and soothes the mind. An excellent oil for readying the body and the mind for sleep.

Valerian

Valerian is a most useful oil for calming and sedating the nervous system and relieving restlessness. Ideal for soothing and calming before bedtime.

Lavender in the sunlight. Essential oils for sleep

For loads more SELF CARE ideas check out my ultimate list of easy ways to feel and look good!

How to use essential oils for sleep

In a burner

This is a really effective use of essential oils for sleep. Add 2 drops of up to 3 essential oils, in a little water in the burner. Ideally do this a little while before you go to bed, either in your bedroom or the room you are in, prior to going to bed, so that the oils can linger in the air and the scent can be inhaled, preparing you for bed.

(Do not leave a candle burning unattended)

In a massage oil

Massaging in an essential oil blend is another great way to use essential oils to promote sleep. For full instructions on blending oils see my full article on this.

Performing some relaxing massage movements on yourself can be so beneficial and therapeutic, add to this some essential oils and you are enhancing the treatment you are giving yourself!  As you apply the oil to your skin, the warmth of your hands helps to move the oil and this in turn helps absorption of the oil, to relax and soothe the body.   

The chosen essential oils should be blended into a carrier oil, such as sweet almond oil or avocado oil – not used neat on the skin.

The following dilutions should be used;

  • 2 drops of essential oil to 5ml (approx 1 teaspoon) of carrier oil
  • 6 drops of essential oil to 15ml (approx 1 tablespoon) of carrier oil
  • 20 drops of essential oil to 50ml (approx 10 teaspoons) of carrier oil

If you are blending larger quantities, then you should store them in airtight, dark glass bottles.  This will ensure that the powers of the oils, remain the same and do not get changed or destroyed by sunlight or air.  Remember, pure essential oils are chemicals, so their composition can change if not protected, therefore destroying or changing their therapeutic actions.

Massage oil blends

  • Cedarwood, Chamomile & Rose
  • Clary sage, Frankincense & Lavender

Pillow spray

You can purchase a pillow spray – see below – but you could also create your own! Take a plastic amber spray bottle, add in 1 tablespoon of witch hazel and top up with water. Add in a few drops of essential oils. Shake well before each spray and ensure a fine spray is used, so you don’t end up with a soaking pillow!

Pillow spray blends

  • Lavender, Vetiver & Chamomile
  • Lavender, Rose & Chamomile

For a more comfortable nights sleep, you might want to try a silk pillowcase . This doesn’t specifically aid sleep, but it is so much more comfortable than a cotton pillow case. It is meant to be better for the skin, as it is much more gentle, soft and crease-free against the skin and hair too!

Essential oils for sleep

Essential oil products for sleep

Creating your own essential blends is fun, but you might choose to purchase ready made products. These are some of my favourites;

About the Author
Alison Angold is a fully qualified (certified) beauty therapist, massage therapist and aromatherapist from the UK. She has over 25 years experience in this industry and has worked in a variety of beauty salons, spa’s as well as running her own successful beauty and massage business. Her career has allowed her to treat many, many clients, with skincare concerns, medical conditions, and a whole variety of other ailments and issues, that has enabled her to work closely with essential oils, prescribing specific blends for these clients to help with these conditions. Her qualifications in the use of essential oils and aromatherapy, allow her to share this knowledge with others, in a safe, reliable way.