10 essential oils to sleep better naturally (with simple recipes)

Revised November 2021

by Alison Angold | Qualified Aromatherapist | 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 night’s sleep. The best essential oils for sleep and to relieve insomnia are;

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

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The best Essential oils for sleep


Cedarwood 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)


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. A study has also shown that clary sage lowered blood pressure, which can help the body relax and be more ready for sleep.

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


Frankincense is a comforting, warming, and relaxing oil that relaxes and calms an overactive mind.


Lavender is an all-around 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. A 2015 study showed that inhaling lavender before bedtime, enhanced better sleep.


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

(Avoid during pregnancy)


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

(Avoid during pregnancy)


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


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


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

How to use essential oils for sleep

The best way to use essential oils for sleep are;

  • In a burner or diffuser
  • In a body or bath oil
  • In a pillow spray

Essential oil diffuser for sleep

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

Essential oil body and bath oil for sleep

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. A body oil can also be used in the bath too.

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 the absorption of the oil, to relax and soothe the body.   

Body and bath oil blends should be stored 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.

Essential oil Pillow spray for sleep

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!

Essential oil recipes for sleep

Essential oil diffuser blends for sleep

Clary sage & Chamomile

Valerian & Lavender

Frankincense & Marjoram


Body & bath oil blends for sleep

Either of these blends will work well for relaxing the body and preparing yourself for sleep. Store in amber glass bottles.

  • 50ml sweet almond oil
  • 8 drops Cedarwood
  • 8 drops Chamomile
  • 6 drops Rose
  • 50ml Sweet almond oil
  • 8 drops Clary Sage
  • 8 drops Frankincense
  • 8 drops Lavender

DIY Essential oil pillow spray

Blend and store in an amber glass spray bottle and simply spray onto your pillow as you go to bed!

  • 250ml water
  • 1-2 tablespoons of witch hazel (or vodka!)
  • 15 drops Lavender
  • 15 drops Vetiver
  • 10 drops Chamomile
  • 250ml water
  • 1-2 spoons witch hazel (or vodka)
  • 15 drops Lavender
  • 15 drops Chamomile
  • 10 drops Rose

For a more comfortable night’s 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 pillowcase. 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!

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 because progesterone is a sleep-producing hormone. The lack of it makes a good night’s 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’s sleep is essential to be able to cope with all these other issues.

Anxiety or Stress

Suffering from 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 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 bedtime, causes our minds to become active, when in fact we want our minds to calm and down 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 too 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 from 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 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.

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 skin care 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 the 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

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

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 of 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, which 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.