Sleep is an essential part of our daily routine, and getting enough quality sleep can greatly impact our overall well-being. However, 50 to 70 million Americans have chronic sleep disorders. Alternative therapies like aromatherapy have gained popularity as potential solutions for sleep problems. This article explores the concept of aromatherapy and its relationship with sleep, discussing its benefits, best practices, and potential risks.
Aromatherapy involves using natural scents, often extracted from plants, to promote physical and psychological well-being.
Aromatherapy involves the use of essential oils to promote physical and psychological well-being.
Lavender, chamomile, bergamot, and cedarwood are some of the essential oils that are commonly used for sleep enhancement.
Aromatherapy should be used cautiously, as improper usage can lead to adverse reactions or sensitivities.
Aromatherapy devices should not be left unattended throughout the night due to potential safety risks.
What is aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils extracted from plants to promote physical and emotional well-being. Essential oils are volatile and have a strong aroma that can be inhaled or applied to the skin.
Aromatherapy is a holistic healing practice that utilizes the aromatic properties of essential oils derived from plants. These oils are believed to have therapeutic effects on both the mind and body. Aromatherapy is commonly used to promote relaxation, reduce stress, alleviate pain, and improve overall well-being.
The practice of aromatherapy dates back thousands of years, but it has become increasingly popular in recent years. There is some scientific evidence to support the use of aromatherapy for a variety of health conditions, including anxiety, depression, pain, and sleep problems.
Aromatherapy and sleep
Sleep is a complex physiological process influenced by multiple factors, including hormonal regulation, circadian rhythm, and psychological state. Aromatherapy aims to tackle sleep-related issues by tapping into the olfactory system, our sense of smell. When we inhale certain aromas, they can trigger responses in the brain that promote relaxation and calmness.
Studies have been done on the impact of using essential oil on sleep.
A review of multiple studies from 2011 to 2019 showed that the use of aromatherapy in elderly adults improved sleep and reduced pain, stress, anxiety, depression, and fatigue in the participants.
One study performed in 2021 showed that the use of lavender while sleeping provided a deeper sleep and more energy the following day.
Other benefits of aromatherapy
The benefits of aromatherapy aren't confined to sleep alone. Aromatherapy has been found to have positive effects on various aspects of health and well-being.
Aromatherapy has been shown to be effective for a variety of other health conditions, including:
Aromatherapy can also be used to improve mood, boost energy, and enhance cognitive function.
A recent study in 2023 showed that aromatherapy could help improve memory by benefiting cognitive and neural functioning, promoting overall brain health.
Essential oil for sleep
When it comes to choosing essential oils for promoting better sleep, several options have shown promising results. The essential oil for sleep depends on the individual. Some people find that lavender is the most effective, while others prefer chamomile or ylang-ylang. It is also important to consider the other benefits that you are looking for in an essential oil.
- Chamomile. A gentle and soothing sweet, floral aroma known for its calming effects.
- Bergamot. Citrusy essential oil with a floral aroma, used for mood-lifting properties; can help alleviate stress and anxiety.
- Cedarwood. Earthy and woodsy aroma that is believed to induce a sense of tranquility.
- Lavender. Light floral oil with a calming and soothing aroma. Often used to treat anxiety, stress, and insomnia.
- Ylang-ylang. Heavier, more sensual oil with a sweet, floral aroma. Often used to promote relaxation, love, and sensuality.
Individual responses to scents can vary, so it's important to find the essential oils that resonate best with you.
Tips for people using aroma therapy
If you are considering incorporating aromatherapy into your sleep routine, here are some tips to help you get started:
- Research. Choose high-quality essential oils from reputable sources.
- Dilute. Dilute essential oils with carrier oil before applying them topically.
- Diffuse. Use a diffuser or humidifier to disperse the scent throughout your bedroom.
- Experiment. Experiment with different essential oils to find the ones that work best for you.
- Start slow. Start with a low concentration of essential oil and gradually increase if desired.
How to use aromatherapy for sleep
To incorporate aromatherapy into your sleep routine, consider the following methods:
- Diffusers. Electric or passive diffusers disperse essential oil particles into the air, creating a calming atmosphere in your bedroom.
- Topical application. Dilute essential oils with carrier oil (like coconut or jojoba oil) and apply a small amount to your wrists, neck, or the soles of your feet.
- Bedding and linens. Adding a few drops of essential oil to your pillowcase or sheets can create a subtle, relaxing aroma.
- Bath. Incorporating essential oils into a warm bath before bedtime can help you unwind.
- Massage. A gentle massage with diluted essential oils can promote relaxation and better sleep.
Risks of using aromatherapy
While aromatherapy is generally considered safe when used properly, there are some risks to be aware of. Some individuals may have allergies or sensitivities to certain essential oils, so it is important to perform a patch test before using them extensively.
Some people may experience side effects, such as skin irritation or headaches. If you experience any side effects, discontinue use and consult with a healthcare professional. The concentration of essential oils matters, too — using too much can be overwhelming and potentially harmful.
Children and aromatherapy safety
When using aromatherapy around children, it's crucial to prioritize safety. Children have more delicate systems and may be more susceptible to adverse reactions. Essential oils should be used sparingly and at lower concentrations. Some oils, like eucalyptus and peppermint, can be especially strong and should be avoided around young children. Avoid using essential oils on children's skin unless they are specifically designed for topical use.
Aromatherapy device safety
While aromatherapy devices such as diffusers or humidifiers are commonly used to disperse essential oils into the air, it is generally not recommended to leave them unattended throughout the night. Some devices have timers or automatic shut-off features, but it is always best to follow the manufacturer's instructions and ensure proper ventilation in the room.
Aromatherapy can be a beneficial tool for improving sleep quality and promoting relaxation. With the right essential oils and proper usage, it has the potential to enhance your bedtime routine and contribute to a more restful sleep. However, it is important to consider individual sensitivities and consult with healthcare professionals if needed.
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