Are you getting enough sleep? Do you find it difficult to fall asleep? Keep waking up? The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours of sleep per night for adults, and more for infants, children and teenagers to enable their growth and development, reducing to 7-8 hours for the over 65’s.
Adequate sleep is essential for our well-being. During this time our immune system is strengthened, hormones and proteins are released, energy is restored, organs, cells and muscles are repaired and replenished, the brain is strengthened as nerve cells communicate and reorganize, new information is stored and waste is eliminated. The heart and blood vessels are reinforced, and metabolism regulated.
Studies have shown that people who do not have enough sleep on a regular basis are more likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure, heart failure, heart attack or stroke, in addition to diabetes, depression, lower immunity, obesity and a lower sex drive.
A lack of quality sleep will impact on concentration levels, mood, energy and even appearance. The actual amount of sleep required will vary by person, but in general you should awake feeling refreshed, and remain energized throughout the day.
Too much caffeine, over stimulation from electronic devices, stress and anxiety can all contribute to sleep problems. Whilst relief may be found in an over the counter product, is putting harsh chemicals into the body the correct remedy? Aromatherapy has been proven in many studies to help clear anxiety, stress, and relax the body and mind to promote a restful night’s sleep. So why not try a natural approach? Here’s our top 5 picks to send you to the “Land of Nod”.
A natural sedative, Chamomile Oil has been used by mothers for centuries to calm children and reduce restlessness. It treats the central nervous system by binding to neurotransmitter receptors, and reducing plasma adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), a stress-induced hormone, and can be extremely beneficial to anyone suffering with central sleep apnoea.
Studies have confirmed its ability to reduce stress, anxiety and depression and install calmness. The overall benefits of Chamomile Oil make it one of the best essential oils to promote sleep.
Lavender Oil is probably the most popular oil for the treatment of insomnia, sleep apnoea and improving overall sleep quality, including for those suffering from depression, anxiety or stress. The effects of lavender include interacting with the neurotransmitter GABA, to calm the nervous system and install mental calm and relaxation, and reduce negativity such as anger, irritation or restlessness to promote sleep.
Research has shown that lavender increases slow-wave sleep which allows for muscle relaxation, slows the heart rate and lowers blood pressure and body temperature, thus promoting a restful sleep. It is also believed that lavender may stimulate the release of the sleep hormone, melatonin, which helps to control the sleep cycle.
This oil has been the subject of multiple studies, and has been shown to promote a soothing night’s sleep. It was found to lower the blood pressure and heart rate, therefore preparing the body for sleep. The studies also indicated that it is shown to reduce negative thoughts and stress which lead to a more restful night’s sleep.
Marjoram Oil is well known for its ability to calm and soothe the body and mind, and is highly recommended for insomnia. A natural sedative, it helps in relaxing the mind and nerves, and releasing any emotional stress which assists the body to better prepare for a deep sleep, allowing you to drift off quicker and for longer.
Ylang Ylang Oil
Well known for its sedative and soothing effect, ylang ylang has a soothing effect and, according to studies, lowers the stress index (as indicated by alpha brain waves measurements) and cortisol levels, and is believed to balance both sides of the brain, helping to release negative emotions, calming and reducing stress and anxiety, thus helping you to fall asleep easier.
Studies also showed that it lowers the blood pressure and pulse rate which are physiological changes that generally accompany sleep.
Frankincense is a mood balancer, and installs feelings of peace and relaxation, and relieves stress. By reducing cortisol levels, which are a known cause of delaying the sleeping process and a contributor to fragmented sleep, it is a wonderful sleep inducer, and allows the mind to unwind, encouraging a deep healthy sleep.
How to use to support sleep:
There are several ways in which you can enjoy the oils to help sleep through the entire night:
Take 1-3 drops of oil and blend it with 1 tsp of carrier oil such as coconut or sweet almond oil, apply to the back of your neck, inside the wrists or the soles of your feet, or use for a body, hand or foot massage.
Add a few drops of oil to a diffuser, vaporizer or oil burner, sprinkle a few drops on your sheets, or add a few drops to a bath product and have a relaxing aromatic soak.