Essential Oils for Sleep
You know what it’s like to be the only one in the house that’s awake, right? You can see the blissful peace in the fortunate sleeping faces of your loved ones, hear their soft, deep breaths inhaling refreshing slumber, and exhaling the day’s worries. Yes… we have all been there. Unfortunately, for an estimated sixty million adults in the United States, this experience is all too frequent.
How Important Is Sleep?
Sleep deprivation LITERALLY affects every system in your body! You will not only be less productive, but your immune system will take a hit, your brain will function slowly, and you could gain weight. When you sleep, your body is working hard repairing and restoring. In fact, while you sleep, your body is regulating appetite with the hormones: ghrelin and leptin, and secreting human growth hormone. Blood pressure and heart rate decrease, giving your circulatory system a much needed break, (the average heart beats 115,200 times per day)! Sleep also triggers the formation of new pathways for memory.
It is now known that the brain has its own type of lymphatic system, called the glymphatic system. While you sleep, this system “washes” the central nervous system, cleaning out dead cells and unwanted waste material from the brain. There are studies now that are working to prove that Alzheimer’s disease occurs when the glymphatic system is not working properly
. Am I Getting Quality Sleep?
One thing to keep in mind when discussing sleep is quantity versus quality. It is a fact that it is important to get quality sleep. You cycle through different types of sleep all night long. While all stages of sleep are beneficial, the superstar of the sleep cycle is Stage 3, the restorative stage. The key to quality sleep is to stay asleep long enough to reach this stage and stay in your slumber to reap the benefits. About 20% of your total sleep is in the restorative stage, and it occurs during the first half of the night. It is during this stage that you experience muscle and tissue repair, restorative hormones are secreted and more importantly, this is the type of sleep that makes you feel energized and rested.
How Much Sleep Is Enough?
I’ll make this easy for you and give you the recommended hours of sleep, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Keep in mind that major studies are being done as this is written trying to prove that we need even more sleep!
Age Recommended Hours of Sleep
5-12 at least 10
Over 65 7-8
How Can I Improve The Quality of My Sleep?
You can start getting a good night’s sleep by making a few improvements to your routine. For those who just said, “Routine! What routine?”, you are going to have to make a few more changes. The first change being… start a routine. Here is a short list of some basic things that improve the quality of sleep.
Meditate. Sleep disorders are very often stress related. Meditation elicits a relaxation response that eases stress, depression, pain, and high blood pressure.
Journal. Get all of your worries out and on to paper on a daily basis.
Exercise. Just 20 minutes of vigorous activity per day can diminish stress, and over time it can regulate your circadian rhythm. This means more energy during the day, and an easier time falling asleep and staying asleep at night.
Unplug. The blue light that is emitted from your cell phone, tablet, and computer prohibit your body’s production of melatonin. Unplug at least one hour before bedtime!
Use essential oils. This is key! Make essential oils part of your bedtime routine. Diffuse five drops of your favorite sleep-inducing oils in your bedroom 30 minutes before you go to bed. If you can’t diffuse, put the oils on the bottoms of your feet and/or on pulse points.
Go to bed and wake up around the same time every day. By doing this, you are training your brain to start melatonin production at the right time.
Let’s Talk More About Essential Oils…
Certain essential oils have chemicals called sesquiterpene alcohols and esters, which have sedative and antispasmodic therapeutic effects. The most well-known ester, linalyl acetate, is found in lavender and clary sage. If that’s too technical for you, here is a short list of my favorite sedative oils and why I love them.
Bergamot: lowers blood pressure and heart rate; relieves stress
Cedarwood: calming; reduces inflammation, promotes serotonin production, which is converted to melatonin in the brain
Clary Sage: calming, sedative; antidepressant. Studies have shown that Clary Sage is beneficial during dental procedures.
Lavender: reacts with certain neuroreceptors in the same way (biochemically) that anti-anxiety medications do.
Marjoram: the most sedative of all essential oils; mild analgesic effects; calming and warming; recommended for elderly to ease chills due to cold weather and poor circulation.
Ylang Ylang: lowers blood pressure and heart rate; calms the nervous system
The best part of these oils is that they all blend well together! Once you get to know the aromas, take your favorite two or three oils and make your own bedtime blend! These oils work wonders on energetic dogs, too! Good night and get some quality sleep!
Centers for Disease Control
“Insufficient Sleep is a Public Health Problem”
National Sleep Foundation
“What Causes Insomnia”
Harvard Health Publications
The Huffington Post
“Your Body Does Incredible Things When You Aren’t Awake”