Aromatherapy for Sleep
by Wendy Mackay MIAAMA
Lack of sleep is one of the most common problems in today’s fast-paced world. Sleep deprivation can impact on many areas of our health including affecting our immune system and our ability to fight off illness, not to mention reducing our ability to deal with the effects of stress. And any new parent will tell you that being unable to get that good continuous nights sleep can seriously affect your ability to function throughout the day!
Sleep problems can manifest in difficulties getting to sleep, or in the ability to stay asleep through the night. Or it can cause us to feel tired during the day, but be too alert to sleep at night. And late nights and shift work only make thisproblem worse. It can take a little work and time, but there are practical ways that essential oils can help to improve our sleep quality and quantity and help us to feel better and function better on a day to day basis.
There are a number of essential oils that are relaxing and can help you to “wind down” and so aid your ability to sleep. Lavender is of course the classic relaxing essential oil that most people know of, but others include, Marjoram, Ylang ylang, Sandalwood, Chamomile roman, Mandarin, Sweet orange and Bergamot.
But how to use these oils?
One of the easiest ways is to put a few drops of essential oil on a tissue and pop it inside your pillow case, so that you can inhale the aromas throughout the night. I like to take a couple of deep breaths from the tissue before tucking it away, just to “kick start” the effect. Favourites for this method are Lavender or a combination of Lavender and Mandarin, or Lavender and Chamomile roman.
Using a vaporiser or oil burner in the bedroom is another way to create relaxing atmosphere to promote sleep. Depending on your vaporiser, you may be able to leave it on all night if it is of a type that will not overheat or burn dry and does not have a naked flame. However even if yours does not fit that type, you can still use it for a period in the evening. Just remember to turn it off/blow out the candle, before you hop into bed. You can use any combination of the relaxing essential oils that you like, but our Peace Essential Oil Blend (with Lavender, Marjoram, Sweet orange and Ylang ylang) is my favourite.
Another trick to help your body get ready for sleep is a warm bath just before bed. Add 5-6 drops of essential oil to a full warm (not too hot) bath and soak for at least 15 minutes. Try Lavender and Sweet orange or Sandalwood and Bergamot.
Incorporate one of more of these methods into a night time routine that will encourage your mind and body to ready itself for sleep – it’s not just babies that benefit from a night-time routine!
Other things that can help include making sure you get some exercise or physical activity during the day (not just before bed!), avoiding heavy meals late in the evening and also avoiding excessive alcohol or caffeine-rich
drinks in the late afternoon or evening. However a light snack or a cup of herbal tea (such as chamomile) before bed are good things to consider.
And finally, as hard as it is to do, try not to worry about your sleep. Lying awake and wishing you could sleep definitely does not help! But incorporate a few of these ideas and you might just find yourself drifting off more easily.
Wendy Mackay is a qualified Aromatherapist and a member of the International Aromatherapy and Aromatic Medicine Association (IAAMA). Wendy along with her husband David is the Founder and Director of Essence of Wellbeing. Essence of Wellbeing is dedicated to the best in Aromatherapy and Pure Natural Skin Care and is located in Mornington on the beautiful Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, Australia.