You know those mornings. Your alarm sounds and you groan. Your body feels like it is full of sand as you try to sit up, feeling anything but rested.
We have all had those tough mornings after a restless night when your brain feels fuzzy and no amount of coffee will wake it up.
There are countless reasons why you are tossing and turning, such as job stress, pain or interruptions by young children (there is no cure for that final one). Regardless of the cause for our sleepless nights, we all crave that wonderful feeling of arising from bed after recharging with a good snooze.
You have heard much of the advice about how to wind down to try to get ready for a solid sleep.
- Turn off screens that emit blue lights an hour before you turn in
- Lie down in a dark, quiet room without distractions
- Breathe deeply and count your breaths to distract your brain from everyday concerns
That list covers what to block out. To relax so you can drift off, you can add any number of soft, natural scents to erase the day’s cares – at least for a few blissful hours.
Why Do Certain Scents Help Us Sleep?
A range of scents send signals to your brain that it is time to slow down and give in to sleep.
For centuries, our ancestors have been rubbing plant leaves between their fingers to enjoy their aromas. Over time, they began distilling those plants into oils so they could get more concentrated doses even when the plants were not available. The lessons they have learned have led to our understanding of what lulls you into la-la-land when you need a little help to relax.
Your sense of smell is linked to the area of your brain that stores memories and emotions. The right scent provokes a chemical reaction that replicates a sense of well-being, which makes you relax. Once you are in this state, you are more prepared for your body to stop and heal from your daily stresses.
While the chemical reaction is universal, each person’s response is tailored to their own experiences. Like any other habit, it takes some time to learn what works and to get your body to recognize these cues.
How To Use Essential Oils
There are several ways to take in these scents:
- Put two drops on your palms and cup them around your face while you inhale
- Mist oils in water onto furniture or your pillow
- Put a few drops into half a cup of water in a diffuser and let it run while you fall asleep
- Dilute three drops in a teaspoon of coconut oil and put it on the bottoms of your feet or on reflex points, such as your wrist
- Add 10 drops to your bathwater
- In all cases, it is best, to begin with, a smaller dose and add more if needed
To get your in the mood for bedtime, try these oils recommended by Tips Bulletin, starting with the top five:
This scent is the most commonly cited one for sleep, particularly in nostalgic passages in literature when people reminisce about the smell of a mother or grandmother’s perfume at bedtime. Its calming effect is known to relieve stress and insomnia.
Put five to 10 drops into your bath water, along with two tablespoons of baking soda, to enhance the relaxing sensations from the warm water. Or put 15 drops on a cotton ball and leave it in glass by your bedside after taking a few deep breaths. You can also buy lavender-filled eyemasks to wear to bed so you inhale the scent as you doze off.
While we think of this more often as an ingredient in soothing teas, its properties are also effective in oil form. If you combine with lavender, you are going to fade away more quickly.
Mix equal parts with olive oil and rub it into the skin on your face and neck. Not only will it help you sleep, but it also hydrates your skin.
Like lavender, this one has a scent that may tie back to a certain person or a garden where you felt relaxed. Its soft scent soothes and relaxes, encouraging you to slow your breathing.
Mix it with coconut oil and rub it into your skin. You can also add 10 drops to your bath water or put it on a cotton ball-like lavender oil – to breathe it in by your bedside.
This blend of spruce, blue tansy, frankincense and other oils is used to help you unwind before bed. As a bonus, it is also known to stop you from snoring, which may help others in your home sleep more soundly.
You may have grown up with this being used as a chest cold remedy, partly since it helped you sleep. It has been touted as a natural remedy for sleep apnea and for letting go of the day’s stresses. Dilute it with coconut oil and rub it into your legs to deter Restless Leg Syndrome and to relieve aches that keep you awake.
Additional Oils That May Help
Neroli (orange blossom) and other citrus oils reduce stress, promotes calm, lifts moods.
Clary sage, a sedative and relaxant, is also known to relieve a sore throat. Try it if you are fighting more than one demon.
Patchouli fills you with hope by stimulating the release of serotonin and dopamine in the brain. It can also be an aphrodisiac if you want to try a little fun before you go to sleep.
Sandalwood, a natural sedative, calms inflammation and anxiety, stress and restlessness. It induces positive thoughts and increases concentration, which can be handy when you are counting sheep.
Cedarwood may remind you of being in the calming outdoors. It helps release serotonin – which converts to melatonin in the brain — and acts as a sedative. It is known to help you sleep longer and more deeply.
Marjoram, Valerian and Lemon Balm all induce restful sleep, reduces tension and foster a sense of calm.
Bergamot, best known for adding the unique flavour to Earl Grey Tea, has several flavonoids that soothe nerves and reduce anxiety.
Jasmine, also known for its use in tea, helps relieve insomnia, stress and nervous symptoms.
Ylang-ylang‘s linalool component reduces stress and improves relaxation. It is best used by being diluted and applied to your skin.