Sniff for Sweeter Slumber: Best Essential Oils for Sleep

Aromatherapy for sleep has long been the golden standard of natural, DIY remedies for restlessness in the bedroom – a simple change in the predominant scent of a room can completely alter the mood and atmosphere, particularly if it’s being overpowered by something we find soothing and relaxing.

There are numerous different scent related products we use liberally these days: air fresheners, candles, automatic odor eaters, but nothing beats the following essential oils when it comes to encouraging sweet, healthy sleep.

Lavender Oil

You knew it was coming – it’s always top of the class when it comes to natural sleep remedies. Lavender oil has many properties which can help with an assortment of different ailments from aches and pains, to headaches.

However, the herb’s true power comes from its ability to promote slow-wave sleep in those who inhale its scent; this means a deeper, more restful sleep and (some research argues) a sharper memory, to boot!

Marjoram Oil

A curveball at number two: here’s something a little different from the usual garden of essential bedtime scents. Marjoram is an interesting plant, which comes in a variety of different forms, but only one of them is actually helpful for sleep or insomnia symptoms.

You want to look for sweet marjoram essential oil, which has a positive, sedating effect, and has even been shown to lower blood pressure. Although marjoram is lesser-known than the sleep aiding superstar scents (we’re looking at you, lavender and chamomile), many people swear by sweet marjoram for ensuring swift, relaxing and oh, so peaceful slumber.

Chamomile Oil

Another regular name in the running for sleep aid oils – the chamomile plant. Again, like marjoram, there are many different varieties and subspecies of chamomile out there, but most, if not all, are proven to help with an inability to relax or unwind.

Chamomile is often mistaken for simply being a tea, but its properties can go well beyond a simple warm beverage, and its oil is one of the best you can opt for if you want to really indulge your sense of smell and nod off for a good night’s kip.

Valerian Oil

Valerian, and often in particular; its root, has been doing the rounds as a sleep aid for centuries. This is thought to be due to the specific kind of acid present in the plant, which can inhibit the GABA breakdown in the brain (gamma-aminobutyric acid).

The process of halting that breakdown, again, creates quite a sleepy, sedated feel in the user, making it that much easier to slip off to sleep.

Vetiver Oil

Have difficulty getting your brain to shut off at night? Well, you may not have heard of vetiver before – it’s a little unusual – but it really helps with calming that internal monologue when you’re lying in bed with just your thoughts, and encourages a contented, empty feeling before bed.

That said, it does have quite a specific scent that might not be to some peoples’ tastes – if you really can’t stomach the smell at first, mix it with some of the more pretty-smelling oils on this list like lavender and sandalwood.

Neroli Oil

Another oil which directly tackles your nerves and promotes a deep seated calming effect, whilst also smelling pretty fantastic. Neroli oil may also be known as orange blossom, and actively works to keep you nice and calm once you’re already there.

Absolutely fantastic for anyone struggling to ‘turn off’ before bed.

Patchouli Oil

This one’s a bit of a throwback. Patchouli was very popular with the ‘hippie generation’, and it quickly became a popular form of soaps and lotions for the feeling of serenity that came with it.

Luckily, it’s available in its oily form, meaning you don’t have to go to bed lathered in soap to get that same feeling!

Sandalwood Oil

Sandalwood may have become slightly more specialist given that the Indian export limits have curbed the amount available to us anxious Westerners, but the oil of the sandalwood plant should still be available enough for you to get a good night’s shut-eye.

Rich, earthy, and smelling of the far-off places it hails from, sandalwood is a addictively fragrant and historically backed anxiety-ridding scent that’s sure to give you an uninterrupted bunch of Zs.

Ylang-Ylang Oil

Ylang-ylang oil is definitely one for those who want a very specific – and surprisingly inconclusive – scent in their bedroom. Just like the others, it comes with the benefits of being relaxing and calming, but has the added bonus of smelling like… either… Bananas, liquorice, jasmine or gardenias depending on who you ask.

Only one way to find out for yourself!

Frankincense Oil

You don’t get the title of ‘wise man’ without being wise, so I guess it’s no surprise that frankincense doubles up as a handy gift for the new born messiah and as a handy scent against anxiety, depressive symptoms and restless sleep to boot.

We all know why gold was a good gift idea and now we know frankincense’s claim to fame. Now we just need to work out the mystery of myrrh.

Bergamot Oil

This fragrance is popular amongst those with a particular nose for citrus flavors and scents. Most citrus oils tend to have more of a stimulating effect, but bergamot oil is a bit of a black sheep in its citrus family. While it does have a definitive citric tang to it, it’s also calming and promotes relaxation and deep sleep.

Its effect is a little like lazing in the afternoon sun – it’s bright, but also makes you want to stretch yourself out for a delicious cat nap. That said, this oil is photosensitive, which means keeping it away from sunlight wherever possible (important to note if you’re wearing it on your skin!

How to Use Essential Oils for Sleep

Ready to start sniffing these sweet sleep scents? Here’s a few ways to do it!

  • Start with your sheets. Place a few drops of essential oil on a wet cloth or dryer sheet to freshen up your laundry as it dries.
  • Want a full spa experience? Opt for a cool mist essential oil diffuser to spread your choice of sleepy scents around your bedroom.
  • Got a humidifier? Add a few drops of lavender essential oil to your humidifier’s tank before letting it run.
  • Douse your pillow. Really, just sprinkle drops of the essential oil directly on the corner of your pillow at night for an ideal source of inhalation.
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