Essential oils and blends for sleep

There isn’t anyone who hasn’t experienced poor sleep or broken nights and it is the most miserable of experiences.  Waking frequently throughout the night or not being able to get off to sleep at all will leave you feeling wrung out and shattered the following day.  If sleeplessness carries on over a period of days and weeks, then this can have a real adverse effect on general physical and mental health as well as the ability to work and interact with family and friends.

Many people don’t want to resort to sleeping tablets and most GPs will not prescribe them anyway until all the self-help routes have been explored and exhausted.  Taking a look at your lifestyle so sleep routines and also diet are an important part of the process towards improving sleep patterns.

sleeping in a meadow

How to use essential oils to promote restful sleep

Having a good bedtime routine can be as important for adults as it is for children.  A period of time to wind down away from the stimulation of televisions and electronic gadgets like mobile phones are essential to help prepare the body and mind for sleep.  There are a number of ways in which essential oils can help as part of this ritual:-

  • Candles in the bathroom are a lovely way to soften harsh electric light and inspire a quieter more relaxing atmosphere. Now you can combine the mood of candlelight with the fragrance of your favorite essential oils
  • Add some drops of lavender or oil of bergamot to your bathwater. Essential oils can stick to the skin whilst you are in the water so always blend your oils in a base or a carrier oil like coconut or sweet almond first.  Essential oils are too strong to be used without dilution and will not diffuse in the bathwater whilst you are sitting in it but will be attracted to your skin in droplets
  • Before you bathe, leave an aromatic room diffuser in your bedroom gently filling the atmosphere with calming fragrances and scents
  • Enjoy a relaxing massage with your favorite blend of oils
  • Sleep with a few drops of oil on your pillow – lavender is one of the best choices for its tranquil and calming properties

Essential oils work on the limbic system in the brain which is the area responsible for emotional stimulus and control and, the emotional content of memories; that is why smells are so evocative of past experiences.  The limbic system is hugely responsive to the power of aroma and perfume and the right choice of essential oils are therefore able to help regulate stress and anxiety, slow the heart rate, and reduce blood pressure.

Essential oils can be used in many different aspects of your nighttime routine.  The soothing and calming oils are favorites so many of the floral scents – lavender, oil of bergamot, rose, rose geranium, jasmine, and chamomile which help relax and calm the mind and body before bed.

Better diet, better sleep

Eating a poor or unbalanced diet is as bad for your health as not sleeping properly and can seriously interfere with both the quality and longevity of your sleep.  Try and eat a balanced diet with sufficient fiber and fruit and vegetables.  There are some tried and trusted techniques that can help improve your sleep with just a few simple dietary adjustments:-

  • Ditch the takeaways and high-carb processed junk food – sugar can result in lots of midnight wake ups
  • Don’t eat anything substantial after 6 pm
  • Avoid high-fat meals and spicy foods which are less digestible and can cause heartburn and gastro-oesophageal reflux which is miserable and will really disturb your rest
  • Some people eat a bowl of cereal before bed but these are choc-full of sugars, salts, and carbohydrates which will give you a sugar spike right when you don’t need it
  • Do not drink alcohol or any carbonated drinks during the evening before bed – if you do want to have a bedtime drink then one of the best options is chamomile tea
  • Being overweight can disturb sleep patterns and so a better diet can help by assisting with weight loss

What if you wake up hungry?

It is an important part of sleep management not to overstimulate the body when you wake up and can’t get back to sleep.  So this avoids switching on all the lights and getting up and eating.  It’s important to strike a balance between not overeating in the evening before bed or eating the wrong things and, waking up hungry because you haven’t eaten enough.

Have a small healthy snack before you go to bed if hunger pangs are disturbing your rest.  Keep a small nutrient-rich snack by the bedside like a couple of crackers or a small piece of fruit.  If you do wake, read for a while whilst you eat it with just a dim lamp on and then switch the light off and try to go back to sleep.  Getting up and eating, switching on all the lights, or watching television makes it much harder for your brain and body to understand that it is still nighttime.  It’s difficult because many people become so stressed that they can’t sleep and feel the time would be better spent getting up and doing something constructive.  Whilst your housework or office work may be an apple pie order, you are not achieving anything constructive when it comes to promoting good healthy sleep patterns.

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