5 best essential oils for sleep

5 best essential oils for sleep

Team ErbologyErbology

Here at Erbology, we’re big fans of finding natural ways to boost our sleep. From creating the perfect night-time routine to optimizing your bedroom for slumber, there are plenty of little things you can do that will help you drift off. One of these is harnessing the power of essential oils. This post discusses five of the best essential oils for sleep. We’ll also cover some effective ways to incorporate them into your bedtime ritual to enjoy the maximum benefit. So, get comfy and we’ll begin!

February 03, 2023 5:50 pm

A quick refresher on essential oils

Let’s start with a short overview of what essential oils are before going into detail about using them for sleep. Keeping it simple, essential oils are extracts that capture a plant’s unique fragrance and taste in a highly concentrated form.

You’re able to use essential oils in a number of different ways, depending on the benefit you want to gain. For example, they can flavor recipes, scent a room, level up your skincare products, or enhance your bath.

Each essential oil has its own individual advantages and effects on our minds and bodies. Some are energizing, some help you focus, and others are great for relaxation. It’s the latter that we’re going to concentrate on in this article, as we investigate the best essential oils for sleep.

organic mandarin essential oil

Why are essential oils good for sleep?

Scent can have a powerful effect on the brain. Certain smells may trigger particular memories or evoke specific emotions, and can also cause physiological responses in the body.(1) This could include changes in blood pressure, stress response, mood, and even our brain waves. Some fragrances stimulate us, while others calm you down, making it easier to get restful sleep.

Many of us have experienced this effect personally, but the science backs it up. Research has found that inhaling essential oils can be useful for people who suffer from mild sleep disturbances.(2) The best essential oils for sleep have a relaxing influence on the nervous system, and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.(3) They can slow your heart rate, lower your blood pressure, and increase delta brain waves. All of this may help us enjoy longer, and deeper, sleep.

What’s particularly good about using essential oils to improve sleep is that you don’t have to worry about side effects. They won’t leave you feeling drowsy in the morning, nor are you at risk of becoming dependent on them. They’re simply a natural way to help yourself wind down in the evening ready for bed.

The importance of prioritizing sleep

Why should we care about the best essential oils for sleep? Well, if you’ve ever suffered through a sleepless night, you’ll know that it can leave you feeling tired and irritable. However, the reality is that sleep deprivation may be more damaging than simply putting us in a bad mood.

Studies have linked chronic sleep deprivation to all kinds of harmful health conditions. These include obesity, heart disease, diabetes and depression.(4) Not to mention, a lack of sleep increases your risk of accidents and injuries.(5)

Conversely, being well-rested could maximize your physical and cognitive performance in a variety of useful ways. For instance, sleep can enhance our motor skills, reaction time, strength, and endurance. Getting plenty of shuteye also boosts our concentration, productivity, memory, and problem-solving skills.(6)

As you can see, making sleep a priority in your life is vital for your overall health and wellbeing. We’ve covered what makes essential oils good for sleep, so now let’s turn to how you can harness their benefits.

The best ways to use essential oils for sleep

When thinking about the best essential oils for sleep, it’s not only the fragrance that matters. You also want to consider how you use them. Luckily, there are several relaxing methods available – so you’re sure to find an option that suits your lifestyle.

For instance, one practice that can help you wind down in the evenings is using an oil diffuser. You fill it with water and mix in a few drops of your chosen essential oil. When you switch it on, the diffuser emits a mist that disperses the scent throughout the space. In just 15 minutes, you’ll find your room infused with a calming fragrance. It’s a convenient choice because it enables you to reap the benefits whatever you’re doing.

Alternatively, pop 5-8 drops of oil into your evening bath before getting in. This technique is great because it multiplies the benefits you get from the essential oil. Firstly, the steam will suffuse the air with a blissfully relaxing fragrance. Secondly, you’ll also absorb some of the oil topically as you soak, which can do wonders for your skin.

One easy method is to put a couple of drops of essential oil onto your pillow before bed. That way, you’ll be able to inhale the soothing scent as you’re drifting off and throughout the night. This can ease you into a peaceful sleep and help you stay there. You can also apply the best essential oils to your skin if you dilute them with a carrier oil. Once blended, rub the mixture onto your face and body for a relaxing bedtime massage.

Among our favorite methods is adding a drop of one of the best essential oils for sleep to a cup of tea or hot chocolate. This transforms it into a perfect soothing bedtime drink!

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"Essential oils can help you unwind at night and make it easier to drift off into a restful sleep."

French lavender essential oil

What essential oils are good for sleep?

There are many essential oils that can help you unwind and make it easier to drift off into a restful slumber. The optimum choice for you will depend on your personal scent preferences. Therefore, it’s a great idea to test out a few different fragrances to find your perfect fit.

With that in mind, here are five of the best essential oils for sleep. Each one has evidence to support its use as a relaxant, and, of course, smells divine!

1. Lavender essential oil

When it comes to the best essential oils for sleep, lavender has to be at the top of the list. Its characteristic delicate floral fragrance is wonderfully soothing, with sweet herbal undertones that calm the mind.

Research indicates that lavender doesn’t just help you drop off, it actually improves the quality of your slumber. Studies have found that inhaling lavender increases your slow-wave sleep.(7) Also known as deep sleep, this stage of snoozing is the most restorative. Experts believe it’s when our bodies heal, and our brains process the information we’ve learned during the day. As such, it is vital for our wellbeing.

Evidence also suggests that night-time exposure to lavender essential oil can help you to feel more alert in the morning.(8) That’s a definite win-win situation in our book!


2. Chamomile essential oil

If you’re interested in natural sleep aids, you’ve probably already come across chamomile as a tea. However, its calming properties also make it one of the best essential oils for helping you doze off.

Studies have found that chamomile might work to improve sleep quality, including in people who struggle with insomnia.(9) Chamomile’s sweet floral aroma can additionally assist in easing anxiety. This is important because worries often keep us up at night, making it harder to both fall and stay asleep.

Bear in mind that there are two different types of chamomile plants: German and Roman. Experts generally consider Roman chamomile to be the preferable option for relieving anxiety and promoting sleep.

3. Valerian essential oil

Slightly less common than other fragrances on this list, valerian is nevertheless one of the best essential oils for sleep. In fact, use of the herb for this purpose dates back hundreds of years. And although more modern clinical research on valerian is still required, early results are promising.

Studies suggest that valerian could help to improve the quality of our sleep, particularly when people use it regularly.(10) It’s therefore a good choice if you’re hoping to find an essential oil to make part of your nightly routine.

Valerian essential oil has quite a strong earthy scent, with warm musky undertones. It can be rather pungent, so feel free to blend it with another oil if you’re not a fan!


4. Cedarwood essential oil

Crafted from the berries, bark, leaves and needles of cedar trees, cedarwood essential oil has a beautiful woodsy fragrance. Comforting and grounding, this natural scent can be very beneficial for soothing anxiety and inducing sleep.

The reason cedarwood is one of the best essential oils for sleep is thanks to a compound called cedrol. Studies show that cedrol can have a sedative effect on us, increasing both the quality and duration of our sleep.(11) It may help to reduce sleep disturbances by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, which relaxes the body.

Research has found cedarwood to be a useful sleep aid regardless of age. That makes it a fantastic choice for the whole family to benefit from.

5. Frankincense essential oil

Sometimes referred to as the King of Oils, frankincense essential oil comes from the resin of the Boswellia tree. People have been using it for centuries thanks to its multitude of health benefits. It has a unique earthy scent with piney and citrusy notes, which many find soothing and grounding.

While more clinical research is required, initial results indicate frankincense could be one of the best essential oils for sleep. For example, studies suggest it may be useful in the management of stress.(12) By promoting relaxation and balancing mood, frankincense can enable us to get a more restful and restorative night’s sleep.

A note on using essential oils safely

Essential oils are generally considered safe, but as they’re very potent, you have to be careful how you use them. This will ensure you avoid unwanted side effects.

For instance, you should never apply essential oils directly to your skin without diluting them first. Otherwise, they may cause irritation and redness. As a guide, mix five drops of essential oil with 10 millilitres of a carrier such as almond oil before using it topically. Similarly, some essential oils made from citrus fruits are phototoxic. This means they can increase your skin’s sensitivity to sunlight, and you should only apply them at night.

When it comes to ingesting essential oils, always use ones that are food quality and never consume them neat. Instead, mix a drop or two into food or drink. In fact, even when not using them in recipes, you want to make sure you purchase the best essential oils. Avoid those with chemical additives, and opt f