Essential Oils for Sleep
Sleep is essential to our overall well being and getting a regular good night's sleep is incredibly important for your health. In fact, it's just as important as eating healthy and exercising. Unfortunately the environment that many of us are living in is interfering with natural sleep patterns.
We enter and leave the workplace in the dark seeing no daylight and thus our pineal gland which creates melatonin (the hormone responsible for our sleep pattern) is unable to perform properly. People are now sleeping less than they did in the past, and sleep quality has decreased as well.
Aromatherapy can help promote restful sleep as it affects the limbic system which in turn has an effect on the hypothalamus and the pineal gland amongst other important brain functioning organs.
Lavender has long been known for its ability to help aid restful sleep, in one particular study Moss et al. (2003) found inhalation of lavender for 5 minutes significantly reduced working memory, reaction times and attention in memory and attention based tasks compared to controls, suggesting a central nervous system depressant effect. This is important in this day and age as so many of us struggle to switch off from our hectic lives.
Cedarwood has a beautiful calming scent that is mainly down to Cedrol a chemical component within the oil that has been shown to produce a sedative effect by acting upon the autonomic nervous system and shifting its balance more towards the Parasympathetic system instead (Suzuki et al., 2007). This means that it takes the body from a stressed alert state back into its relaxed one.
Limonene constitutes 26.7-42.5% of bergamot. It has been shown to exert sedative and anxiolytic effects in rats (de Almeida et al., 2012), which may explain the reported calming effects. The same would go for many citrus oils as they are often primarily limonene but as bergamot has the softer more comforting scent it is the better one to use at night.
Try blending these three oils together for a balanced blend of equal top, middle and base notes into a bath oil to help wind down at night or into a luxury hand cream that you apply just before going to bed to feel the full benefits and help get a good night’s sleep.
De Almeida, A.A.C.et al. (2012) Evaluation of acute toxicity of a natural compound (+)-limonene epoxide and its anxiolytic-like action. Brain Research, 1448 (0), pp. 56-62.
Moss, M. et al. (2003) Aromas of Rosemary and Lavender Essential Oils Differentially Affect the Mood and Cognition of Healthy Adults. International Journal of Neurosience, 1 (13), pp. 15-38.
Price, L. and Price, S. (2011) Aromatherapy for Health Professionals. 4th Ed. London: Churchill Livingstone.
R.P. Adams. (1991). Cedar Wood Oil - Analyses and Properties. Modern Methods of Plant Analysis. 12 (0), p161-173