Did you know that more than one-third of American adults are not clocking in the recommended seven to nine hours of shut-eye each night? Yep, it’s true. Seeing as good sleep is a key ingredient to good health and a happier frame of mind, we’d say this is a pretty big problem!
Just like breathing, sleep is a pivotal piece of human functionality. It allows your body to repair itself, strengthens your immune system, allows your brain to process information as well as retain memories, and so much more. With poor sleep quality, your brain will struggle to function properly, which can impair your abilities to concentrate, think clearly, and focus.
What’s more, the ability to regulate emotions and cope is greatly impaired when sleep is scarce, meaning sleepy parents are likely to experience a blend of irritability and anxiety.
That being said, if restless nights have become the norm for you, it might be tempting to reach for one of the many sleep aids available on the market but pump the brakes. Many OTC sleep aids contain diphenhydramine, an anticholinergic drug meaning it blocks the activity of a certain brain chemical called acetylcholine. This specific chemical plays a key role in muscle activation as well as many cognitive functions.
As a result of this blocking effect, these popular OTC drugs can cause tummy troubles, confusion, memory loss, and many other icky side effects. And according to one study, people who regularly took the amount of diphenhydramine found in two Extra Strength Tylenol PM or two Benadryl pills roughly once a week were at a significantly increased risk for dementia.
If you’re struggling to summon the Sandman, the answer isn’t chemicals. To promote a restful snooze, many folks turn to natural solutions, like essential oils.
Read on as we explore the exciting world of essential oils to uncover which plants are best to land you comfortably in dreamland.
Poor Sleep, Meet Your Nemesis: Essential Oils
If you’re waking up tired and fuzzy-headed, it can be harder to remember things— like where you left the keys or the piece of paper that was just in your hand two seconds ago. Being tired also throws your hunger hormones out of whack. A sleepy noggin loses executive function, so it’s much more challenging to make healthy food choices.
Plus, as the day goes on, feeling cranky or irritable is often inevitable for those who don’t get good sleep... and nobody likes a bad attitude. A lack of sleep increases cortisol, the stress hormone, which just makes a bad day worse. Essential oils produce serotonin, or "the happy chemical."
To feel like your best self during the day, you need to sleep well at night. And while there’s no magic wand you can wave to make that happen, there are essential oils.
What Are Essential Oils?
Simply put, essential oils are aromatic plant components in liquid form, most often through steam distillation or extracted from the leaves, stems, bark, seeds, flowers, roots, fruit, and peels of plants. These highly concentrated oils are then inhaled, ingested, or can be applied directly to the skin through a lotion, oil, or cream.
You can also find patches infused with essential oils for easy application and no mess — like the ones found at The Natural Patch Co.
Another way to use essential oils is by adding them to your food or drink. However, ingestion is not recommended without guidance from a medical professional as even a small amount can quickly become toxic — especially in kids.
How Do Essential Oils WorK?
As active botanical compounds that give plants their signature aroma, essential oils are substances that we respond to emotionally, mentally, biologically, and spiritually. You see, when you sniff an essential oil, your olfactory bulb fires off signals to the limbic system, the part of your brain that controls emotion: that’s how certain scents affect your mood.
Depending on the type of essential oil you smell, your heart rate or blood pressure may rise or fall, and your body may release certain hormones that can make you feel calm and relaxed. Essential oils have an amazing ability to produce serotonin, or "the happy chemical."
What’s The Best Way To Use Essential Oils For Sleep?
You can experience the aromatic effects of essential oils in a number of ways.
Here are a few of them:
- Add essential oils to water in a spray bottle and spray directly onto your pillow or linens. Or perhaps, simply mist the air in your room.
- Rub a few drops that have been diluted with a carrier oil on certain parts of your body, such as your chest, neck, wrist, forehead, hands, or feet. Be wary of skin irritation: mix a few drops of your oil with olive oil, almond oil, or coconut oil to act as a carrier agent.
- Pour a couple of drops in an air diffuser, which disperses the beneficial fragrance in your room. Place a towel around you and the diffusing device to concentrate the effects.
- Light aromatherapy candles (wax infused with essential oils).
- Pour a few drops of diluted essential oils into your bath before hitting the hay.
- Add essential oils to a pot of boiling water and inhale the steam coming out of it.
- Put a few drops of diluted essential oils on your hand and rub your hands together before smelling them. You can also use them in a massage.
- Pour a few drops of diluted essential oils in a small bowl mixed with Epsom salt and soak your feet.
The Best Essential Oils For A Better Night’s Sleep
Essential oils have many incredible health benefits, and promoting a good night’s snooze is one of them! Essential oils from certain plants are well known for their soothing and calming effects. Using them at bedtime may help you to drift off to dreamland sooner rather than later.
So, without further ado, here are the best sleep-inducing essential oils for sweet dreams and good-quality restorative shut-eye:
Of all the essential oils on the planet, lavender oil is probably the most popular, and it’s easy to see why. When used before bed, many studies have shown that the versatile oil helps you to drift off to sleep.
Interestingly, lavender essential oils may also improve the overall quality of rest. It does this by calming the nervous system, primarily due to the chemical compounds linalyl acetate and linalool found within it.
Lavender is a natural sedative that helps promote melatonin, which can help fight insomnia. For more mild insomnia, ylang ylang oil could be a good choice.
Another powerful essential oil, chamomile, has been used for many years to help alleviate a racing mind when it’s time to sleep. This oil works on the part of the brain that anxiety medications do. In fact, you may be familiar with sipping on a hot mug of chamomile tea before bed, but if herbal tea doesn’t tickle your fancy, chamomile essential oil proves to be just as beneficial.
That being said, the direct effects of this aromatic oil on the body are pretty minimal, but when diffused in the air, the subtle floral aroma has a relaxing and calming effect on the mind which can help prepare your body for a restful snooze.
Chamomile is a broad category. More specifically, Roman chamomile can reduce anxiety, and German chamomile can help fight pain.
Do you enjoy woodsy scents? If so, you should consider incorporating cedarwood essential oil into your nighttime routine. Why? Because it has a sedative effect due to a little chemical compound known as cedrol.
Cedrol has been studied time and again for its sedative effects, proving itself to be an emotionally grounding compound that can combat feelings of tension to quiet a racing mind for a peaceful slumber.
Next up on the list is a fragrant herb native to North America known as bergamot. Bergamot essential oil is pretty impressive as it has a little something for everyone: those who struggle with sleep are no exception (this makes Bergamont different from other citrus oils).
Noted for its incredible antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, this versatile oil has also been shown to lower blood pressure as well as heart rate. This can help to prepare the body for sleep and make early morning awakenings easier.
Another oil with anti-inflammatory properties is peppermint oil.
Sure, many essential oils will help you to drift off to sleep, but marjoram essential oil will actually keep you there. The pleasantly sweet fragrance can be counted on to soothe you both mentally and physically and to produce the kind of deep, restorative sleep needed to heal and recharge.
Similar oils include valerian oil.
Citronella essential oil has a strong citrusy scent that can be both uplifting and relaxing. In fact, recent research shows that this powerful oil seems to activate both sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous activity. This can be extremely beneficial for the management of one’s emotional wellness. When inhaled, citronella oil can encourage relaxation, invigoration, and pleasant memories to support a good night’s sleep and sweet dreams.
In addition, citronella essential oil is an all-natural insect repellent that does wonders in keeping itchy bug bites at bay. That’s why we infuse the powerful oil into our mosquito repellent patches — BuzzPatch!
Our patches are made using non-woven fabric patches infused with a combo of citronella and other essential oils that are perfectly safe for kids. BuzzPatch is designed to confuse annoying mosquitoes and hide your kids from their senses and combat itchy bites.
Sleep Well with Serotonin Stimulators
Essential oils have been used for many years, but people are now just beginning to see the incredible benefits they provide. From calming a racing mind and promoting a restful snooze to stopping tension in its tracks and kicking icky mosquitos to the curb, essential oils provide an all-natural solution to support a healthy lifestyle.
Here at The Natural Patch Co., we worry about our kids growing up in a world filled with harmful chemicals like DEET, for instance. When trying to get a solid night’s rest, those medications can look mighty tempting. However, we believe that a natural cure can be just as effective and bring none of those nasty side effects. In our products, we rely on essential oils to fight nature with, well… nature. When looking for a fun way to spend the day and a way to rest at night, look no further than essential oils.