What’s your favorite essential oil for sleep? Is it effective? Let me share with you another post by American Sleep Associations on essential oils for sleep.
Essential oils are natural compounds that are extracted from plants. These oils have been around for centuries and are used in many cultures for medicinal purposes, cooking, perfumes, and cosmetics. Recently, essential oils have been growing in popularity for their healing and calming effects when used for aromatherapy. If you are one of the millions of people suffering from difficulty sleeping, you might want to consider adding essential oils to your nighttime routine.
How to use essential oils for sleep
There are generally three ways to reap the benefits of essential oils:
- Inhaling. The most common method of using essential oils is inhaling, which is usually done using a diffuser. A few drops of the oil are put into the diffuser and the oil molecules are dispersed through the air for you to breathe them in.
- Direct application to the skin. When applied in this manner, the body can absorb the molecules as the permeate through the skin. Because of the volatile nature of the oil, this method will also allow you to inhale and sense the aroma of the oil, as some of it will evaporate. Because essential oils are concentrated, it is best to dilute them with a carrier oil such as apricot oil or almond oil before application. It is recommended to first apply a tiny amount to a small area of your skin to make sure you are compatible with the essential oil.
- Ingesting. Although essential oils can be added to food and drinks, this method is not recommended without guidance from a medical professional. The risk here outweighs the benefit — especially with the easy options of inhalation and direct application.
When using these methods to help you sleep, they work in two ways, depending on which oil(s) you are using. Some offer soothing effects to help you sleep, and others help to clear your airway so you can breathe easier, allowing you to fall asleep.
How do essential oils work?
When essential oils make their way into your body, they have an impact on your olfactory system, the system relating to smell, and limbic system, which is your “emotional brain.”
When you inhale, molecules from the essential oils make their way to the brain. When they get to the brain they have an effect on the amygdala, which is part of the limbic system and known as the emotional center of the brain.
Essential oils are also known to work through the olfactory system to cause the brain to secrete neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin, which can elevate mood. Not only are these neurotransmitters needed to make you feel calm and relaxed, but serotonin is also needed to produce melatonin, the hormone responsible for making you feel sleepy at bedtime.