If you’re among the 35% of people who have trouble sleeping, you’ll already know that lack of sleep has a major impact on day-to-day life, affecting everything from energy, to mood and performance. In fact, 46% of individuals with frequent sleep disturbances report missing appointments or events, or making errors at work, compared to 15% of healthy sleepers. Worrying about these things probably keeps you awake at night.
And even if you do manage to switch your thoughts off, the biggest enemy of sleep is sometimes entirely physical: hormones. Perimenopausal women often start to develop disrupted sleep patterns due to hot flashes and night sweats, which then continue into menopause and beyond. This sleep deprivation is a major contributor to the brain fog associated with menopause and makes getting through work, chores and responsibilities a daily struggle.
Of course, there are always the outliers who can conquer the world on four hours’ sleep a night, but for most of us, twice that amount of shut-eye is optimal. So how can we take back some control and support our own healthy sleep patterns when insomnia strikes?
The good news is, science has repeatedly shown that there’s a simple way to increase your chances of a restful night’s sleep. The Sleep Foundation credits certain aromas with having a calming effect on the body and mind. Build them into your night-time ritual and you’ll start to send a clear signal to the brain that it’s time to shut down for the night.
You can find in-depth information about which essential oils are best for sleep, but we also have a summary below of the top three sleep remedies and the science behind their efficiency.
Top three sleep remedies to get you to sleep
Lavender is the oil most studied by scientists interested in the effects of aroma on sleep. Studies have shown that people with insomnia, especially younger people and women, reported improved sleep after inhaling steam carrying lavender essential oil aromas. By promoting relaxation, certain essential oils may reduce this barrier to sleep. A review of published scientific research found that a majority of studies reported sleep benefits for people using essential oils. In a study in people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a condition often marked by nightmares and significant sleeping problems, exposure to pleasant aromas during sleep was associated with improved sleep quality.
Citrus auranthium var. bergamia
This oil has been shown to decrease stress levels and lower blood pressure when inhaled. Bergamot is usually mixed with other oils to enhance healthy sleep patterns, especially sandalwood. One study showed that this combination improved sleep quality in a massive 64% of participants. Another classic aromatherapy blend for sleep is bergamot, lavender and ylang ylang.
Chamomile has long been recognised for its calming properties, but did you know that German Chamomile can also support physical pain relief? This could be useful if your insomnia is due to discomfort associated with illness or injury. Many people also recognise the benefits of chamomile tea as a sleep support, but inhaling chamomile, especially when combined with other effective essential oils for sleep (like lavender oil) has been shown in studies to reduce anxiety so it might be wise to incorporate it into your night-time routine.
And remember, essential oils for sleep aren’t just effective, they’re portable and convenient too. If you’re away from home and find your head on a strange pillow, with no diffuser at hand, no problem. A dab of your favourite sleep oils on a tissue, your nightwear or your pulse points and you’ll be away with the fairies in no time.