Insomnia or lack of sleep could be caused due to hectic lifestyle, stress, anxiety, fear, depression or some medical condition. Insomnia takes a great toll on our body and mind and leaves us exhausted and makes us feel lethargic and unproductive during the day.
Scents or smell is a very powerful sense and it can immediately evoke emotions and memories instantly. It directly affects our body through our nervous system. The Olfactory nerve starts from our nose and is directly connected to our brain. It immediately sends signals to limbic system and amygdala, parts of the brain, which are responsible for moods, memory, and emotions. These parts of the brain also regulate our autonomous nervous system and thus control our heartbeat, blood pressure, the quickening of our breath or relax us through our parasympathetic nervous systems.
The above theory is the basis of aromatherapy that certain aromas have the calming effect while others are stimulating and right knowledge and the right blend of these essential oils can have great healing effects. Essential oils can be diffused in the air or mixed with some water or carrier oil or can be gently applied to acupressure points of our body.
Aromatherapy helps us to relax our mind and calming aroma of essential oils act as a sedative which helps in inducing sleep and thus rejuvenate our self. Aromatherapy can't cure the disease but helps us in getting relief.
Following aromatherapy tips could help us to get better sleep if we suffer from occasional sleep disturbances.
Aromatic Cotton Ball by Bedside:
Roman Chamomile Essential Oil is a natural sedative and adding a drop of it to a tissue or a cotton ball and then placing it near your pillow can help inducing sleep. Lavender and Clary Sage essential oil also have sedative properties.
Bed Linen Spray:
Spray your bed linen with a mild spray of calming essential oils before bedtime. This would help in relaxing.
Bathing is a great way to unwind and relax after a hectic day but avoid taking bath immediately prior to bedtime. Preferably take shower an hour before bedtime. To de-stress and calm yourself use bath oils containing lavender or chamomile essential oils.
Minerals in natural salts, especially Dead Sea salts, helps in relaxing overall by relaxing your muscles. Aromatic bath salts which are calming and safe can be used for relaxation.
Body massage is stimulating but gentle foot massage with warm water and then massage of legs and foot with calming lotion or massage oil can greatly help in inducing sleep.
Herbal teas which use herbs that have the sedative effect can be relaxing and very soothing. Natural Chamomile tea has a very pleasant flavor and can be a great sedative. Tea from Valerian and passion flower are also relaxing but they do not have pleasant flavors.
Avoid Stimulating Essential Oils Before Bedtime:
Certain essential oils like cypress, rosemary, peppermint, grapefruit are stimulating essential oils. If you suffer from sleeplessness, avoid these oils just before bedtime.
Other simple ideas to ease sleeplessness includes being active throughout the day and having light food or food much prior to the bedtime. Caffeine, cigarettes, digital devices, and other stimulants should be avoided before bedtime. Stressful activities or discussions should be avoided. To have peaceful night avoid noise distractions and rather play soothing music to calm your nerves. Eye masks also help by keeping light out and thus inducing sleep.
There are mainly following six essential oils that promote sleep and reduce stress:
Lavender is one of the most researched essential oil for its calming effect. It calms the nervous system, changes brain waves to a relaxed state, lowers blood pressure, controls heart rate and even skin temperature also changes and thus calms and relaxes us.
Lavender helps in providing better sleep by helping with mild insomnia and even helps in reducing postpartum depression and anxiety in women. In most of the hospitals and clinics like dental offices and intensive care units, lavender helps in reducing anxiety among patients.
Lavender is generally safe unless you have an allergy to lavender. It is advisable to be used in a diffuser or on a cotton ball. Long-term usage of lavender oil directly on the skin should be avoided especially for children.
Japanese researchers prove that a Yuzu, an East Asian yellow citrus fruit soothes stress and anxiety and can lower your heart rate in just 10 minutes. Yuzu baths in which whole yuzus float in hot baths helps a lot in relieving stress. Other citrus fruits like lemons can be also tried but the effect of lemon can be stimulating and thus depends on individuals.
Citrus bergamot is used in Italian folk medicine and is a hybrid between lemon or lime and a bitter orange. Bergamot essential oil has the ability to relieve tension and anxiety. It has antibacterial properties and its aromatherapy reduces blood pressure and heart rate and stress. Besides being used as a fragrance, it is often used in food flavoring. Recent studies show it relieves pain and also changes brain waves.
Ylang ylang is extracted from the flower of a tropical tree in Southeast Asia and has a sweet floral aroma. Its sweet aroma calms the nervous system, thus reducing blood pressure and lowering heart rate. Its aroma is very relaxing.
Clary sage is herb which is quite similar to garden herb sage. The essential oil extracted from this herb has anti-depressant like effects and helps in relaxing people undergoing different medical procedures.
Jasmine has a very relaxing fragrance and a sweet floral aroma. The odor of Jasmine tea has a very calming effect on our brain.
There are many more essential oils like Valerian root or Roman chamomile and many more which have calming effect.
An expert aromatherapist should be consulted who would prepare essential oil blends especially according to the concerned patient's needs and medical history. Essential oils used should be of therapeutic quality and purity to get maximum benefits from aromatherapy.