If you have ever smelled the aroma of fresh cookies, fresh from the oven, you would agree that scents can influence our feelings and emotions. You may wonder why this is so. This is what happens when you perceive any scent. Your nervous system would send signals through the olfactory pathway to your amygdala and limbic system. These are parts of your brain. They are responsible for your mood and memory. So you see why scents can make you feel brighter in an instant. You now understand why good perfume can make you fall in love. In the same way, scents can affect your sleep too. If you know the right essential oil for sleep, you can harness its scent to promote your sleep. This practice is called aromatherapy.
Aromatherapy is an ancient medical practice. However, these days, experts prefer to refer to it as alternative medicine. This practice relies on the sensations of smell. These scents usually come from the essential oils of plants. Experts take advantage of different scents to bring healing to the human body, mind, and soul. Practitioners have used this method to boost people’s moods and relieve migraines. They have also been used to relax and calm the body and mind. This state of relaxation is perfect for a soothing sleep.
How Do Scents Affect a Person’s Mind and Body?
You may have had this experience before. You perceived a smell and it instantly evoked a strong feeling or memory. It could be a perfume scent that reminded you of your grandma. Isn’t it funny how the smell of engine oil can remind you of a special outing with your favorite uncle many years ago?
How do all these things happen? Your smell sensation has a direct connection with the centers of emotion and memory in your brain. So smell does not stop at your olfactory cells picking up and recognizing a smell.
Your nerves also immediately pass the info about scent to your limbic system. This smell then registers on your emotions and memory. No other sense has this kind of direct connection with your emotions. Other senses would first pass through relay stations.
This means that smell sensations can evoke stronger feelings and/or memories. And these come on rather too quickly. Other senses evoke less intense feelings and/or memories. And they take more time too.
The real scent of any plant is in its essential oils. That’s why experts in aromatherapy often extract these oils to boost relaxation and promote physical and mental wellness. This practice is many centuries old.
In recent times, scientists and medical experts have begun studying essential oils more rigorously. They want to gain an understanding of how the scent of specific oils affects human health and sleep. Indeed, aromatherapy is gaining more and more traction by the day.
3 Best Essential Oils for Sleep
1. Lavender Oil
Lavender is the most popular oil that experts use for relaxation and sleep. It is likely to be the first oil an aromatherapist will refer you to for sleep. This is because its soothing scent has a strong association with sleep and general body relaxation. Many experts even recommend it for treating anxiety.
Aside from being the most used, lavender is also the one that scientists have studied the most for sleep. It has strong anxiolytic effects. That means that it reduces anxiety. It also has benefits for treating depression.
That’s not all. Many studies show that Lavender essential oil also helps with relieving pain. Recently, one study even showed that lavender oil aromatherapy would reduce dependence on pain medications after surgery.
But of all this, our main interest in this article is the sedative effect of Lavender. The term sedative effect means that it works directly to enhance sleep. Lavender may be your solution to insomnia.
2. Vanilla Oil
Vanilla has a very sweet scent. Many people find this scent very appealing that promotes stress relief, relaxation, and sleep. This implies that vanilla also has strong sedative effects.
The aroma of vanilla oil can reduce restlessness and hyperactivity. It will make you calm and quiet your nervous system. It can even help lower your blood pressure. Vanilla oil is indeed a powerful relaxant.
It also seems that vanilla is a powerful antidote to depression and anxiety. It uplifts mood and promotes relaxation. Eating vanilla flavored foods helps people relax. The catch with vanilla oil is that you can get the same benefits without the excess calories.
3. Geranium and Rose Oils
These floral scents of these 2 oils are similar. Experts tell us that both scents can reduce anxiety and stress. Whether you use them separately or you combine them, you would get amazing results. Many sleep experts often recommend these oils for sleep-inducing aromatherapy.
Methods of Using Oils for Relaxation and Sleep
If you have an interest in promoting your sleep with any essential oil, you must know the way to use them. We will share some guidelines with you to help you get started:
1. Add the oil to the water for your bath
Warm soaks promote better sleep. Can you imagine combining this with aromatherapy to enhance your sleep? You will be getting double benefits for your sleep and relaxation. Add your chosen essential oil (several drops) into the bathwater and soak about 90 minutes before your sleep time.
2. Make use of a diffuser
A diffuser will help you disperse the oil into your room’s atmosphere. Just follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the amount of oil and water to add.
3. Apply the oil directly to your body.
If you find it soothing, you can apply the oil directly to your body. You can give yourself a light massage with the oil. But make sure you dilute the oil before application so that it won’t irritate. A patch test would also be in order before direct application.
There are many ways to use essential oil for sleep. And we have listed out the best oils for you already. You should try them out someday soon.