Sleep Hygiene Tip of the Week || ALTERNATIVES: Aromatherapy

Occasional insomnia or trouble with sleep due to mild anxiety can be treated with simple homemade remedies that include natural fragrances composed of pure essential oils, which can promote calmness and relaxation. The theory behind this is simple: some fragrances, when inhaled, can help shift the brain’s chemistry to promote sleep onset. The trick in using aromatherapy is to know which aromas will help and which to avoid. There are also several ways to deliver aromatherapy worth checking out.

Scents that make sense
Here are your best choices for fragrances that help to calm the mind and the body:

  • Benzoin
  • Chamomile
  • Clary sage
  • Jasmine
  • Lavender (this is the most scientifically studied of the essential oils for this purpose and research indicates it can be quite useful for calming anxiety, achieving general relaxation and improving the quality of sleep, especially slow-wave “deep” sleep)
  • Lemon balm
  • Neroli
  • Rose
  • Sandalwood
  • Sweet marjoram
  • Vanilla
  • Ylang-ylang

Scents that don’t make sense

The following pure essential oils are typically used to invigorate or stimulate and are not advised for use at bedtime:

  • Cinnamon
  • Clove
  • Cypress
  • Eucalyptus
  • Fir
  • Ginger
  • Grapefruit
  • Lemon
  • Lemongrass
  • Peppermint
  • Rosemary
Delivery systems

There are multiple effective ways to deliver aromatherapy.

  • Place a couple of drops of pure essential oil on a cotton ball then placed in your pillow case or near your bed
  • Use a pure essential oil linen spray on your pillow
  • Add a few drops of pure essential oil to warm (not overly hot) bathwater at bedtime
  • Use bath salts infused with pure essential oil
  • Get a massage using pure essential oil infused massage products
  • Wear an eye pillow or mask to bed that has been infused with pure essential oil

Aromatherapy 101
These basic tips can help you get started on an aromatherapy plan that can help you and your whole family sleep better.

  • Use only pure essential oils. Fragrance allergies are often due to the other ingredients used in perfumes and sprays. A small tube or bottle of pure essential oil is going to be more effective and less inclined to bring on sneezing fits.
  • Use reliable brands of pure essential oils so you know you aren’t getting other additives.
  • Pure essential oils are very strong, so just use a little. Too much may have the opposite effect.
  • To save money, you can visit Pinterest or other craft websites and learn how to make your own linen sprays, massage oils, bath salts, eye pillows or other products designed to deliver aromatherapy.
  • Remember that aromatherapy doesn’t simply “knock you out.” It is designed to facilitate relaxation and is going to be most effective if you are also performing activities at bedtime which are more likely to restore calm, like dimming the lights, taking a warm bath, reading, or listening to soft music.
  • Some individuals may be sensitive even to the purest essential oils. Never apply directly to the skin without adding to a pure carrier product like jojoba oil, sea salt or shea butter (in example).
  • Never consume aromatherapy products by mouth. These are meant to be inhaled and are not safe for eating or drinking or administering by mouth.

SOURCES CONSULTED Alternative Medicine || Aromatherapy for Sleep || Aromatherapy for Insomnia and Difficulty Sleeping
Daily Health Post || The Smell of Sleep: How to Use Aromatherapy At Bedtime
Holistic Online || Sleep, aromatherapy: Alternative and Integral Therapies
How Stuff Works || How to Treat Fatigue With Aromatherapy
National Institutes of Health abstract || A single-blinded, randomized pilot study evaluating the aroma of Lavandula augustifolia as a treatment for mild insomnia. (The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine)
National Institutes of Health abstract || An olfactory stimulus modifies nighttime sleep in young men and women. (Chronobiology International)
National Institutes of Health abstract || Nurses experience of aromatherapy use with dementia patients experiencing disturbed sleep patterns. An action research project. (Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice)
Wall Street Journal || A Scent to Lull You to Sleep

A friendly reminder that links to websites offering products does not imply endorsement by

SleepyHeadCENTRAL strongly encourages people with ongoing sleep health problems to approach a medical professional to determine appropriate differential diagnoses and treatment. This post, like all other posts on SHC, is not intended to substitute for medical advice.  

About Tamara Kaye Sellman (621 Articles)

Leave a comment or question for the Curator

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.