Sleep is one of the most symptomatic aspects of our wellbeing, but due to the stresses and demands of our busy, modern-day lives, it is also frequently overlooked and decentralised in our health practices. The NHS estimates that one in three adults suffer from poor sleep habits, a danger that impacts physical and mental health alike (1).
A study conducted by the University of Minnesota School of Nursing concluded that the inhalation of essential oils could be used to support healthier sleep habits (2).
In our quest to achieve more restful, regular sleep, making essential oils part of our nightly routine seems like a no-brainer. However, not every essential oil is created equally or for the same purpose. Let’s have a look at the best essential oils to utilise in your bedtime routine.
Perhaps the most well-known essential oil for rest and relaxation, lavender is used as a sleep aid in many different ways, including teas, oral capsules and room sprays. Compounds found in lavender oil are believed to stimulate GABA, a neurotransmitter instrumental in achieving a restful night of sleep (3). Low GABA activity has been linked to insomnia, with one study finding that levels in people with insomnia were 30% lower than those who slept through the night (4). It is the most studied and effective essential oil for improving sleep health, which is why it is included in all of our sleep oil blends.
Obtained from the Boswellia plant, frankincense carries a relaxing property called terpene, which has been linked to decreased cortisol levels, according to Dr Anna Garrett (5). Cortisol is the hormone most commonly associated with stress, and as such, lowered cortisol levels can help facilitate a better night’s sleep (6).
Like Lavender, chamomile is another widely used essential oil for sleep support due to its ability to stimulate the GABA neurotransmitter (7). Historically, chamomile has been used extensively for its therapeutic and mild sedative properties to reduce stress and anxiety, making it an ideal sleep aid for overactive minds (8).
Though most notable for its use in cooking, seaweed also has calming properties that can support restful sleep. Seaweed contains a compound called marine polyphenol that has been shown to promote sleep in a way similar to lavender and chamomile: by stimulating GABA receptors in the brain (9).
Beyond its soothing, floral smell, rose oil has been shown to have relaxing effects on the mind and body. Rose oil can lower cortisol levels and activate the HPA axis to combat stress in the body (10). Balancing this hormonal response in the brain results in a calmer, clearer mind ready for sleep.
All of our sleep oil blends incorporate these ingredients to help induce sleep and encourage a restful night. Combined with other bedtime rituals that centre sleep hygiene, essential oils can be a tool to support a more fulfilling, rejuvenating sleep.
How to get the most out of your essential oils
While the most common way to use essential oils is to inhale them, applying them to the skin has many advantages, including benefits for the skin and boosting the wellbeing effects of the oils through the stimulation of sensory points. Careful though, not every essential oil can be used topically without dilution! If you're using a pure oil, you will need to dilute it in a carrier oil before applying it to your skin.
Sensory points are spots in the human body called meridians, including nerves of various types, blood vessels, and ligaments rich in nerve endings and suture lines (11). By massaging the sensory points, you can relax the local tension or invigorate the body.
To use oils:
- Applying essential oils to the skin – Apply a few drops of the oil on the sensory points and massage vigorously until the oil is absorbed.
- Using oils in a diffuser – Add your preferred oil to your diffuser to activate a fine, fragrant mist and humidify the air, creating a soothing and calming environment.
- Using oils in the bath – To disperse oil throughout your warm bath, first dilute them with a carrier, such as coconut oil, to help circulate the essential oil and ensure a safe, therapeutic bath. Or, try one of our specially formulated bath salts for an equally soothing experience.