Millions of Americans deal with insomnia or chronic sleeplessness. According to NPR, as many as 60 million people are affected by insomnia every year, and the Centers for Disease Control say 1 in 3 adults don’t get enough sleep.
This is a troubling trend, given how crucial sleep is to overall health. Getting a good night’s sleep isn’t just about making sure you’re not in a bad mood the next day. Chronic insomnia can have a devastating effect on everyday life, impacting everything from personal relationships to careers, not to mention causing long-term damage to the body.
How much sleep you need depends on your own needs, but the CDC makes the following recommendations for adults: Age 18-60, 7 or more hours; 61-64 years, 7-9 hours; and 65+, 7-8 hours.
It’s also crucial that your sleep is high-quality. Those who wake frequently during the night or don’t feel well-rested despite getting 7-8 hours also aren’t sleeping right.
For those with frequent trouble sleeping or who suffer from poor-quality sleep, experts recommend things like getting into nighttime routines, ensuring the room you’re sleeping in is dark, and limiting screen use before bed. If those tricks still aren’t working for you, you might be considering other natural means to induce good sleep. Here are 12 essential oils that can bring you better sleep.
Essential oils for sleep
The O.G. sleep aid, use of lavender is essentially as old as the human race itself, as records show people having been using lavender for at least 2,500 years. The popular purple herb, often referred to as a super-oil because of its myriad benefits, can improve sleep and brain function, as well as reducing anxiety and emotional stress. A few drops on the pillow is the perfect prelude to a deep sleep.
Cedarwood oil’s woodsy scent and rich color, produced from the cedar tree, has been used around the world for centuries, thanks to the bounty of benefits it brings. Helping generate emotional balance, and even repelling insects, cedarwood oil is frequently used to promote calmness and induce sleep. A few drops of cedarwood oil also can be applied via massage to sore or tight muscles, further relaxing the body.
Though it’s best known from the Nativity story in the Bible, is said to relieve anxiety and depression, as well as providing a calming, soothing effect. Derived from trees in the Boswellia genus, Frankincense is popular among not only Christianity but religions around the world. Frankincense oil is versatile, making it ideal for combining with other oils to provide even more benefits.
Produced from the root-heavy vetiver plant, vetiver oil’s fragrance is sweet, earthy and strong, making it popular among perfume makers. Applied to the soles of the foot, the oil boosts relaxation and improves sleep. A couple of drops in a warm bath can create an almost spa-like, soothing experience. Vetiver oil also is popular among masseurs, thanks to the relaxation boost it generates.
Though sometimes considered a bracing and exhilarating scent, lemon oil bucks the common conceptions of citrus oils. Lemon essential oil has been shown to provide relief from anxiety as well as producing a sedative effect.
Rivaled only by lavender in its well-established sleep-inducing properties, Roman chamomile has been used for centuries to relieve depression and anxiety. Roman chamomile also has been shown to produce drowsiness, allowing users to enter a restful state of peace.
Bergamot’s bright, sweet scent is very popular in the perfume and food industries. Bergamot oil is believed to lift the spirit and stabilize the mood. It’s ideal for producing a pre-sleep calm. A few drops of bergamot essential oil in a warm chamomile tea can whisk you away to easy sleep.
Another fragrance common among perfume and related industries, sandalwood has been used around the world for centuries. Sandalwood oil has a rich, sweet scent perfect for inducing a calm state and enhancing meditative effects. The grounding effects of sandalwood can help provide relaxation before sleep, in addition.
Produced from the branches of the Indonesian cananga tree, ylang-ylang flowers produce an oil proven to produce a sedative effect. In addition to inducing and aiding sleep, ylang-ylang also is said to relieve stress and anxiety, as well as producing a lightly floral aroma.
Valerian root has been used to relieve insomnia and anxiety since at least the second century. Valerian oil is also believed to improve stress management, which can help lead to better sleep and more happiness in general.
Marjoram is a popular spice among chefs, and marjoram oil has a warm, woody scent that serves to produce a calming atmosphere. Marjoram oil also is believed to relieve muscle pain, support cardiovascular health and relieve stress.
With its light, bright scent, geranium oil reduces stress and soothes the spirit, helping induce and improve sleep. A few drops applied to the chest or feet before bed is said to alleviate sleep apnea, helping ensure that sleep not only comes but also provides good rest.
We think of sleep deprivation as getting only a few hours of sleep a night, but the body can start to see negative effects after just a few days of only 6-7 hours of sleep. You might feel cranky or out of sorts the day after bad sleep, but just think about what can happen if you’re never getting enough sleep. The long-term effects of not getting enough good sleep not only affects your mood and mental health, but it can have dire consequences to your physical health, including raising blood pressure, encouraging weight gain and increasing heart disease risks.
Whether you use a few drops on your skin, place drops on your pillow or use a diffuser with one of these 12 essential oils for better sleep, experiment with a few of these powerful, natural sleep aids. Given how crucial a good night’s sleep is to overall health and how few of us are getting enough shut-eye, even a few drops could make a difference.