Essential oils for sleep can help you get a good night’s sleep and wake up refreshed and invigorated. Sleep disorders are widespread, especially in today’s 24/7 nonstop, always on the go culture. Some estimate that up to 65% of people in Western nations have difficulties getting a good night’s sleep. They wake up tired and have periods weariness and fatigue throughout the day. And, at least 10% of the population has such a severe level of sleep dysfunction that they require therapeutic treatment. And, many have resorted to prescription drugs.
It’s no wonder that nearly 40% of people with insomnia turn to over-the-counter medications or alcohol to help fall asleep faster and stay asleep. But, most of these medications have side effects. So, many people are investigating natural botanicals that have calming, relaxing and soothing properties.
Among the botanicals people use are a number of essential oils. Many essential oils have calming effects.
Scientific Evidence on Essential Oils for Sleep
A number of clinical trials have been conducted to investigate essential oils for sleep disturbances. One paper reviewed the human studies, many of which were randomized controlled trials, that had been published between 1990 to 2012.
This review indicated that the oils that produced statistically significant results in improving sleep quality included lavender, peppermint and jasmine oil. It indicated that some studies found positive results, though not statistically significant, for lavender oil and lavender and valerian blends.
The effect of essential oil aromatherapy for improving sleep is much easier to conduct on animals. A study on rats (which are like humans in many ways) showed that oil vapors that significantly altered sleep time included lemon, rose and valerian. Lemon significantly shortened sleep time while rose and valerian significantly lengthened sleep time. Lavender lengthened sleep time, but not significantly.
Many recent studies have examined single oils or an essential oil blend on sleep disturbances. Here are just a few recent studies.
Lavender Essential Oil
One hospital study demonstrated that lavender, roman chamomile, and neroli with a 6 : 2 : 0.5 ratio were found to significantly lower anxiety and improve sleep quality in cardiac patients.
Another study of cardiac patients in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) used lavender essential oil. Those patients using lavender aromatherapy showed significant decreases in anxiety and significant improvement in sleep quality.
A study of healthy college students demonstrated that aromatherapy using lavender essential oil significantly increased deep or slow-wave sleep (in the first half of the night), percent of time spent asleep, and increased vigor the morning.
Another study of college students with sleep issues tested the use of lavender essential oil and recommendations for good sleep against only recommendations for good sleep. The lavender group showed significantly improved sleep quality and less daytime fatigue compared to the non-lavender group and these advantages remained for at least 2 weeks after the test.
A review of 16 randomized, placebo-controlled trials of valerian for improving sleep quality showed that 6 studies showed positive effects. Most of the larger studies showed a inconclusive, dichotomous outcome of sleep quality (sleep improved or not improved).
A study tested a combination of valerian, hop, and jujube in capsule form with 120 generally healthy patients with sleep problems (60 using the combination and 60 not). After 10 days patients taking the combination showed significant improvements (p < 0.024) over the placebo group in time to get to sleep, nighttime awakenings, and total sleep time. After 20 days the improvements were highly significant (p < 0.001)
A study of rose oil showed that it significantly decreased breathing rate, blood pressure, and perceived alertness with an increase in relaxation and calmness.
Recipes Using Essential Oils for Sleep
Nearly all blends will contain at least lavender, rose, valerian, roman chamomile, neroli, or jasmine oil.
For example, here is a blend From the Selected Works of Mona Shattell
Bergamot: 2 drops
Lavender: 10 drops
Roman Chamomile: 5 drops
Add to carrier oil: 2 oz unscented lotion or jojoba oil
Apply freely to chest and neck prior to bed
Which Essential Oils to Use For Sleep?
Commercially available blends also contain one or more of the oils proven to help you get a good night’s sleep.
- Natural Riches™ Sleep essential oil blend contains Lavender, Clary Sage, Copaiba Balsam, Marjoram, and Chamomile.
- Nexon Botanics™ Zen Sleep Essential Oil Blend consists of Geranium, Lavender and Cedarwood oils.
- Pure Therapeutic Grade™ Good Sleep Blend contains Clary Sage, Copaiba and Lavender
- Edens Garden™ Good Night blend contains Lavender, Sweet Marjoram, Chamomile, Bergamot, Ylang Ylang, Sandalwood, Key Lime, Lime, and Vanilla
- Artizen™ Good Sleep Blend contains Clary Sage, Copaiba, and Lavender
- Plant Guru™ Sleeo Tight Synergy Blend contains Bulgarian Lavender, Spanish Marjoram, Ylang Ylang, Copaiba, Roman Chamomile, Rue, and Sandalwood
- Prime Natural™ SLEEP & RELAXATION blend contains Lavender Bulgaria, Clary Sage, Copaiba Balsam, Marjoram, Roman Chamomile
As you can see, each brand has its own unique blend of essential oils. Investigate these and other oils to see what effect they have on your sleep. Choose a blend that you like and use it.
Essential Oils for Sleep References
- Effects of Aromatherapy on the Anxiety, Vital Signs, and Sleep Quality of Percutaneous Coronary Intervention Patients in Intensive Care Units in the Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine
- An Olfactory Stimulus Modifies Nighttime Sleep in Young Men and Women in the journal Chronobiology International
- Effects of aromatherapy on sleep quality and anxiety of patients in the journal Nursing in Critical Care
- Effect of Inhaled Lavender and Sleep Hygiene on Self-Reported Sleep Issues: A Randomized Controlled Trial in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine
- Valerian for Sleep: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis in the American Journal of Medicine
- Evaluation of effectiveness and safety of a herbal compound in primary insomnia symptoms and sleep disturbances not related to medical or psychiatric causes in the journal Nature and Science of Sleep
- The Sleep-Enhancing Effect of Valerian Inhalation and Sleep-Shortening Effect of Lemon Inhalation in the journal Chemical Senses
- Relaxing Effect of Rose Oil on Humans in the journal Natural Product Communications
- A Systematic Review of the Effect of Inhaled Essential Oils on Sleep in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine
- Healing scents: An overview of clinical aromatherapy for emotional distress From the Selected Works of Mona Shattell