LAVENDER. This is the most popular essential oil for sleep and relaxation among my patients, and my first, general go-to recommendation for people looking to try aromatherapy for sleep. Lavender is a soothing scent that’s long been associated with relaxation and sleep, and used as a natural remedy for anxiety. Lavender is probably the most rigorously studied essential oil. A robust body of research shows lavender has anxiety reducing—or anxiolytic—effects, as well as beneficial effects on depression. Lavender can also help with pain relief, several studies show. One recent study showed aromatherapy using lavender oil reduced the need for pain medications in a group of 6 to 12-year-old children recovering from having their tonsils removed. Lavender also has sedative effects, meaning it can work directly to help you fall asleep. A number of studies point to lavender’s effectiveness for sleep: improving sleep quality, increasing sleep amounts, and elevating daytime alertness, including in people with insomnia.
VANILLA. The sweet scent of vanilla is appealing to many people, and it has a long history of use for relaxation and stress relief. Vanilla can have sedative effects on the body. It can reduce hyperactivity and restlessness, quiet the nervous system, and lower blood pressure. It also appears to help relieve anxiety and depression, with a combining both relaxation and an uplift in mood. If the smell of cookies baking relaxes and soothes you, vanilla might be a scent to try for sleep—without the calories!
ROSE and GERANIUM. These two essential oils have similar floral scents, and both have been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, on their own and in combination with other essential oils. Some sleep experts recommend valerian as an essential oil for sleep aromatherapy. Valerian taken as a supplement can be highly beneficial for sleep. I wrote about valerian’s benefits for sleep and stress, here. But the smell of valerian is highly stinky! I recommend trying geranium or rose instead.
JASMINE. A sweetly floral scent, jasmine appears to have serious sleep-promoting capabilities. Research shows jasmine improves sleep quality and cuts down on restless sleeping, as well as increasing daytime alertness. A 2002 study showed that jasmine delivered all of these sleep benefits, as well as lowering anxiety, even more effectively than lavender.
SANDALWOOD. With a rich, woody, earthy scent, sandalwood has an ancient history of use for relaxation and anxiety relief. Scientific research indicates sandalwood can be effective in easing anxiety symptoms. Research has also shown sandalwood can have sedative effects, reducing wakefulness and increasing amounts of non-REM sleep.
It’s important to note: sandalwood has also been shown to increase wakefulness and alertness, even when it is also triggering physical relaxation. Everyone reacts to scents differently. Sandalwood may deliver sleep benefits for some people, while for others, it may promote wakeful, attentive relaxation. If that’s the case for you, sandalwood isn’t right for nighttime, but you can use it during the day to feel relaxed and alert.
CITRUS. Similar to sandalwood, this is a group of scents that can be stimulating or sleep-promoting, depending on your individual reaction and the type of citrus oil used. Bergamot, a type of orange, has been shown to relieve anxiety and improve sleep quality. Lemon oil has demonstrated anxiety and depression-relieving effects in research. Citrus may help some people fall asleep more easily, while others may find these fresh, bright scents are relaxing, but not sleep-promoting. If citrus scents are stimulating to you, don’t use them before bed—but do consider using them during the day, to help you feel both refreshed and relaxed.
Post time: Jun-27-2022