Many people suffer from difficulties related to sleeping, and this ranges anywhere from difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep to difficulty getting enough quality sleep.
One of the most powerful techniques for improving sleep involves the use of essential oils. Essential oils are actually an ancient form of healing that has been rediscovered in the last 50 years.
In this article, we will discuss the 3 best essential oils for inducing a good night’s sleep, first offering a brief overview of what essential oils are.
What Exactly is an Essential Oil?
Essential oils are volatile compounds that are extracted from various plants, usually their stems, barks, flowers, roots, or fruits.
This extraction is a very delicate process and can be done either by steam distillation, water distillation, or expression.
Each extraction method imparts a unique element to the resultant oil.
Water distillation is typically used for plants whose oils are difficult to extract, while expression is typically used for citrus based oils. Steam distillation is considered the most dynamic way of extracting essential oils, as the temperature used can be adapted to each plant. As such, it is the most common method used.
On a more basic level, essential oils are necessary for the health of the plant, as they help protect the plant during its life as well as facilitate pollination.
They are often extremely aromatic and are used during aromatherapy, in which the underlying idea is that the body and mind are intimately interconnected.
Thus, the healing properties of the original plant can be experienced by merely smelling its essence.
Certain essential oils can also be used for culinary preparation or for skin health, as the skin is the largest organ and is the portal to the interior of the body and mind.
Valerian Essential Oil
Valerian is a kind of perennial flower that has been used since Ancient times, specifically in Greece and Rome. When its essential oil is extracted and smelled, it can have a sedative effect on the body, calming the nerves and reducing inflammation.
Many people have difficulty sleeping in today’s hectic age because they cannot disconnect themselves from the workday. In this sense, the mind is overactive and does not shut off.
Valerian essential oil can help mitigate their overactivity. It won’t put you to sleep but will definitely set the stage. Some people, however, report being unaffected by it, so it’s important to experiment and not rely solely on its aid.
Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender is another essential oil used for sleep and is commonly applied to the pillow so that its scent can stay with the sleeper throughout the night.
Lavender is known for entering the blood stream extremely quickly after being massaged on the skin, sometimes in under 5 minutes. It is very calming, but not as sedating as Valerian.
What’s also great about lavender as well as other essential oils is that they are temporary solutions and do not carry the potential for abuse that many sleep aids carry, like benzodiazepines.
Thus, there is very little risk to them, unless you use them incorrectly. Many of them cannot be ingested directly, so make sure you check the label before you use them.
Chamomile Essential Oil
Some people struggle with sleep due to digestive issues, especially when eating dinner late in the day.
Science is also beginning to uncover the connection between the gut and brain, which means that our gastrointestinal bacteria can influence our production of serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that regulates our mood.
Chamomile essential oil is used for sleep because it is calming and can strengthen and ease digestion.
Typically, chamomile essential oil is used for aromatherapy, but a food grade version can be purchased that allows for direct ingestion. This would be convenient for adding to a nightly cup of tea alongside other essential oils like Lavender and Valerian.
What’s great about many of the essential oils is that they can be synergistic when taken together, though it’s important to try out each essential oil on its own first to determine how it affects you.
Depending on the person, some supposedly calming oils are actually energizing, while some energizing oils can be more sedating.
Our Final Thoughts on the Best Essential Oils for Sleep
Aromatherapy via essential oils is one of the most effective techniques for promoting healthy sleep. Valerian, Lavender, and Chamomile are 3 of the most calming essential oils for sleep available.
There is little downside to their usage despite their instant effects.
We think that if you are having difficulty with sleeping, you should experiment with these three options first, since they have historically been the most studied when it comes to sleep. Yet, if you find them ineffective, there is a seemingly infinite number of other oils you can try.
Feature image via Botanicals By Anita