19 Best Essential Oils for Sleep (Aromatherapy Oils, Blends and DIY for the Rest you Deserve)
If you have trouble falling asleep on a regular basis, you are in good company. According to the National Sleep Foundation, nearly half of all Americans report that poor sleep interferes with their daily activities at least once a week. Additionally, while some people say that they get a good quantity of sleep, the quality still suffers, leaving them feeling lethargic the next day.
There are many reasons to use essential oils, such as weight loss and stress reduction. But one that many don’t consider is using essential oils for sleeping.
When used in combination with other practices to improve sleep hygiene, essential oils can be very helpful in letting you get the rest that your body needs.
In this article, I’ll go over 19 essential oils, blends, and DIY recipes you can use to get a great night’s sleep.
Traditional methods for good sleep.
As a part of your nightly routine, essential oils can help improve the quality of your sleep, but they are an adjunct to traditional methods of getting a good night's sleep.
If you are having trouble getting to sleep. Or if your sleep is of poor quality you will want to try these 8 traditional methods of improving sleep quality and quantity in addition to using the essential oils for sleep.
If your body gets used to going to sleep and waking up at the same time each night, you are more likely to be able to get the quality rest that you need. Learning your body’s natural circadian rhythm is a critical strategy for improving sleep.
#1 Stick to a sleep schedule.
Sleeping during the same hours each day helps to set your body’s internal clock. Pick a time for bed when you typically feel tired. If you are getting sufficient sleep, you are likely to wake up at the same time each day without an alarm.
It is important to stick to your schedule, even on weekends. If your weekend and weekday sleep schedules are very different, you are likely to experience jetlag-like symptoms on Monday morning.
If a weekend night has kept you up later than normal, take a nap during the day so you can resume your normal bedtime that evening.
People who exercise on a regular basis are able to sleep better and feel more energized during the day. Exercise also helps to relieve the symptoms of insomnia by increasing the amount of deep, restorative sleep you get.
Exercise encourages the body to excrete cortisol because it speeds up the metabolism and elevates body temperature. Having a cortisol surge close to bedtime can interfere with sleep, so try to schedule your workouts for the morning or early afternoon. Wrap up your workout at least three hours prior to going to sleep.
The more intense your exercise is, the more sleep benefits you will get. It can take quite some time, several weeks even, for regular exercise to start providing sleep-promoting benefits. Be patient and continue with your exercise routine while being smart about it.
#3 Improve your environment.
Even slight changes to the environment in which you are sleeping can have a big impact on your quality of sleep. Make sure your room is quiet, dark, and cool. To help control any outside noise, consider using a sound machine that plays white noise, or put a fan in your room. Having a fan will also help to keep the room cool, which is an easier environment for the body to fall asleep in.
Also, make sure that you find your bed to be comfortable. While everyone has different preferences when it comes to the firmness of a mattress, your sheets should always be big enough to allow you to stretch throughout the night without losing any coverage. If you find that you suffer from a sore back or an aching neck, it may be time to experiment with various types of mattresses and different levels of firmness to provide either more or less support.
A room that is either too hot or too cold can disrupt sleep, so the ideal temperature to aim for is around 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
#4 Wind down.
Leftover stress from your day can keep you from getting a quality night's sleep. If you have anxiety at night, learn how to actively stop worrying and change your perspective on life. You may need professional help to learn tools to better manage your stress, but by learning how to handle stress in a productive way, you will be able to maintain a calm mindset at night.
To help yourself relax before bed, try taking some slow, deep breaths and practice progressive muscle relaxation. Beginning with your toes, tightly tense up the muscles and then completely relax. Do this for each muscle group in your body, working your way all the way up to your head. The act of relaxing the tense muscles will help you release any tension that is being held in your body. Here is a great video that can lead you through this practice.
You may also find relaxation in taking a warm bath or listening to light music before bed. Whatever helps you wind down from the day and let go of any tension will help you get a good night's sleep.
The busier your brain is throughout the day, the more difficult it may be to unwind in the evening. Give your brain rests during the day by not doing too many things at once. Set aside specific times to check your email or return a phone call, and try to focus on one thing at a time. Once you try to go to sleep, your brain will be used to focusing on only one thing, which will prevent your mind from racing.
#5 Be careful about what you eat and drink.
Your eating habits have an effect on your sleep, but especially what you consume in the hours just before bedtime.
Eliminate or strictly limit your intake of caffeine and nicotine. Caffeine is a very powerful stimulant that can have effects for 8-14 hours after it is consumed. Also, nicotine is a stimulant that can easily keep you from falling asleep, especially if you ingest it close to your bedtime.
Avoid eating large portions of food at night, or any foods that are heavy or rich. Also, avoid heartburn by skipping any spicy or acidic foods for dinner, because the discomfort can keep you up at night.
While many believe that alcohol helps you sleep, quite the opposite is true. Even just a few drinks can have a negative impact on your normal sleep processes.
Avoid drinking too many liquids in general at night, as it will cause you to have to get up to use the restroom. However, a light nighttime snack may be a good idea. For some, eating a light snack such as a small bowl of cereal or a banana helps to comfort them and holds them over for the night.
#6 Control your light exposure.
Melatonin is a hormone that is controlled by exposure to light. This naturally occurring hormone helps to regulate your body's sleep-wake cycle. Your brain is able to secrete more melatonin when you are not exposed to light, which is why humans naturally sleep in the dark.
While this was simple for people hundreds of years ago, modern life has altered our bodies’ production of this sleep-inducing hormone, which has consequently shifted our circadian rhythms.
To fix this problem, you need to be aware of your light exposure both during the day and during the evening. Give yourself exposure to bright sunlight first thing in the morning to help give your body a boost of energy.
During the day, spend as much time as you can outside in the natural daylight. If you can't be outside, let as much natural light into your workspace or home as you can.
Once evening rolls around, avoid bright lights, and especially avoid the screens on a television or smartphone. These screens emit a blue light that is especially disruptive to your sleep. If you must be exposed to a screen at night, turn the brightness down as low as you can, or try to use a device with a very small screen.
When it is time to go to sleep, make sure your room is completely dark. Use curtains or shades on your windows to block out any light, or try wearing a sleep mask. Install a dim nightlight in the bathroom or hallway in case you need to get up in the middle of the night. This will help keep your body from fully waking up, which could then prevent you from going back to sleep.
#7 Do not watch television in bed.
Train your body to learn that your bed is only for sleeping and sex. Do not do other activities such as watch television or play on your laptop in bed. Not only does late-night television suppress melatonin, but television shows are also often more stimulating than they are relaxing. If you must do something in bed before falling asleep, try listening to some soft music.
#8 Learn how to get back to sleep.
While you will likely wake up at some point in the middle of the night, it is important to know how to fall back asleep efficiently. In order to do this, here are some important tips to follow:
First, try not to put pressure on yourself and stress over the fact that you are not able to fall back asleep. This stress will only keep the body awake. Instead, focus on your breathing or relaxing your muscles. Take slow, deep breaths.
Also, rather than telling yourself that you must go back to sleep, tell yourself to just relax. If you are having trouble falling back asleep, try visualizing a relaxing situation such as lying on the beach or getting a massage. This visualization can help you begin to relax.
If you cannot sleep after 15 minutes, get up and do a quiet activity, such as reading a book. Make sure that you keep the lights low during this time, and avoid screens that emit blue light so you do not cue your body to wake up.
Stop worrying. If you wake up during the night worrying about something that is going to happen in the future, write yourself a note and postpone thinking about it until the following day when you can resolve the issue.
For more information on other methods of getting a good night's sleep, check out this page.
Best Essential Oils for a Good Night's Sleep
There are several essential oils for sleep that you can use alongside the traditional tricks to help you sleep, we talked about above.
When using essential oils for sleep, finding the right oil for you may take a bit of trial and error. However, once you discover what works for you, your sleep will greatly improve.
Essential oils can help you to relax, reduce stress, calm your mind and body, and even act as a mild sedative. Further, essential oils can help reduce muscular pain and tension, increase your time in the restorative sleep phase, and decrease the number of times you have to get up in the middle of the night.
When you are buying essential oils, avoid purchasing oils that say “fragrance oil” or “perfume oil.” These oils are likely synthetic, which will not give you your intended benefits. While fragrance oil has a pleasant smell, it is not effective in a health-benefitting way. Instead, shop for oils that mention the phrases “pure essential oil” or “100% essential oil” to get the highest quality essential oils that will help in the ways you are expecting.
Chamomile is a popular choice to treat insomnia. While there are a few different species of chamomile, Roman chamomile essential oil provides the most benefits to fight insomnia. This is an ancient herb that contains therapeutic properties that act as a sedative and help to relax the mind and body. Roman chamomile essential oil is recommended for the treatment of stress, insomnia, and nervous tension, which will all help you prepare to fall asleep.
Roman chamomile has a sweet and comforting scent that even my daughter enjoys and can use as an effective sleep aid. Research also reports that Roman chamomile can help treat hysteria and lessen the frequency of nightmares. Although the route through which Roman chamomile essential oil has these effects is unclear, its positive effects seem to be mainly psychological.
Lavandula angustifolia, which is true lavender, is very effective when used to help you fall asleep and sleep through the night. This oil is mainly made up of esters and alcohols, which are not only associated with relaxation, but have several other therapeutic properties. It is important to note that true lavender is the most effective and popular choice out of all of the lavender essential oils that are available. Other species, like spike lavender and lavandin, have similar properties to true lavender but are less effective.
Lavender is the most versatile essential oil because of its wide range of uses. Not only is it useful for aiding in sleep, but it works to calm nerves, relax the body, relieve headaches and muscle aches, reduce anxiety, control asthma, improve digestion, and more. A study published in the Journal of Alternative Complementary Medicine reported immediate improvements in people's sleep troubles when lavender essential oil was used. Another study rated this improvement to be around 60%.
Bergamot is a citrus fruit, which gives this oil its pleasant smell. Its rind is used to extract the oil. Studies have shown that bergamot oil has the ability to reduce anxiety and improve mood. Better yet, bergamot essential oil is thought to reduce the presence of cortisol in saliva, which gives it its sedative properties.
Bergamot essential oil is used for several medicinal purposes, some of which act as a sleep aid. Some common uses are:
- Antidepressant and stimulant
- Pain reliever
- Muscle relaxer and sedative
- Helps reduce the appearance of scars
- Fever reducer
- Nerve relaxer
Bergamot can help to increase the amount of time you spend in the restorative stage of sleep, leading to more energy the following day.
#4. Ylang Ylang
Ylang Ylang essential oil works very well on a mental level, reducing stress, helping us connect to our own hearts, and healing us from emotional traumas.
It’s also known to promote overall feelings of well-being, which can help take stress off of your mind.
This is a great oil to use to fall asleep if you find that your mind is racing in the evening and you are having a hard time settling it down.
Sweet marjoram is an effective remedy for insomnia. Its sleep-inducing effects are thought to be even more effective than those of lavender and chamomile, which are both used more often as sleep aids.
Marjoram essential oil works to calm and sedate the nervous system, which helps lower your blood pressure, ease anxiety and tension, and soothe any feelings of loneliness, rejection, and grief.
It is important to choose the correct form of marjoram, which is sweet marjoram (otherwise known as Origanum marjorana). This is the only type of marjoram essential oil that is recommended for reducing insomnia.
Valerian essential oil contains valerenic acid. According to a study published in the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, valerenic acid is known to help subjects get better sleep.
It helps people to fall asleep easier and get deeper and more restorative sleep, and decreases the number of times people wake up in the middle of the night.
Sandalwood essential oil has several benefits to help promote a quality night's sleep. It helps reduce anxiety, promotes a meditative state, and helps to relieve chronic insomnia.
It can also help to relax cramped muscles that may be keeping you up at night.
This is a great oil to use if you have a lot on your mind and you want to break it down into pieces so you can rest.
Frankincense is believed to send messages to the limbic system, which is the part of the brain that is known to have an influence on the nervous system. These calming messages help to reduce stress and improve mood.
It can also help to reduce anxiety, relieve symptoms of indigestion, fight a cold or the flu, and relieve pain and inflammation.
Frankincense essential oil is helpful in opening up the airway passages, which can help reduce snoring and allow your body to take the deep, calming breaths that it needs.
#9. Clary Sage
Clary sage is similar to valerian in the sense that it affects the GABA receptors, which help to reduce stress.
Clary sage essential oil also has mood-lifting properties that are useful in treating patients who are suffering from depression. When this oil was compared to others, such as chamomile and lavender, it was found to be the most effective at combating stress.
Best Essential Oils for Sleep (Premade Blends)
Essential oil companies often make proprietary premade blends using the oils listed above. By using calming essential oils in combination with each other, you can get a more effective solution. Companies choose various concentrations and mixtures of their hand-picked essential oils in their own blends.
The benefit to using a premade blend is that you do not need to buy multiple oils to help you sleep. You can buy one bottle and not worry about having to come up with a mixture yourself.
However, you can’t combine blends to come up with a solution that works best for you, and if you want to use any of the oils for a different purpose (for example, if you wanted to use frankincense during the day for a cold), you can’t separate that particular oil out of the mix.
In the long run, it is likely less expensive to buy individual oils and mix them together as needed. This will also give you a chance to play around to find the best mixture that works for you.
Some examples of popular premade blends are:
This blend includes Bulgarian lavender oil, Spanish marjoram oil, ylang ylang oil, copaiba oil, Roman chamomile, Rue oil, and sandalwood oil.
It is great for helping you go to sleep by calming the mind and body. It also works as a mild sedative and muscle relaxer.
This oil is especially great when it is diluted and applied directly on the skin. It can also be diffused into the air to create a calming sleep environment.
This blend is a wonderful blend to help you sleep, or if you just need to relax and calm down. Good Night Essential Blend has a comforting and freshening smell that works by balancing the limbic center of the brain, which is responsible for controlling emotions and reasoning.
As this sleeping essential oil blend helps the body relax, circulation is increased to the brain, which allows you to practice active visualization as a stress-relieving tactic. This blend includes lavender Bulgaria, Roman chamomile, clary sage, marjoram, and copaiba balsam.
This proprietary blend will help you ease into a peaceful sleep with its pure, organic botanical blend.
After using this oil, you are more likely to wake up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. You will feel more energized after a good night's sleep without the use of pharmaceutical sleeping aids, which can have unpleasant side effects.
This oil blend is 100% organic and pesticide-free. The tranquil mixture includes lavender, frankincense, blood orange, German chamomile, bergamot, and valerian essential oils.
This blend of five therapeutic-grade essential oils promotes tranquility and serenity.
This is an even blend of lavender, clary sage, copaiba balsam, marjoram, and chamomile.
They work together to create a mild sedative that is perfect for the end of a stressful day when you need to wind down.
This blend will not only wind you down to help you fall asleep, it will also help you sleep through the night.
You only need to place one drop of this oil near your headboard for this blend to be effective. You may also choose to diffuse the oil in your room throughout the night. This oil is a mixture of ylang ylang, mandarin, valerian, neroli, and lavender.
Best DIY Essential Oil Recipes for Sleep
While you can certainly buy premade blends online, creating your own blends of essential oils is a great way to laser target what works for your individual needs, as well as what doesn't work. Everybody is different in the way that they respond to certain oils. Some like the smell of one, while another person may strongly dislike it. At the same time, one person may find a certain scent to be very relaxing, while another may actually find the scent to be offensive. By creating your own blends, you can pick and choose what is best for you.
#15. Essential Oils For Restless Muscles
If you are missing out on sleep because your muscles tend to tighten up and you cannot seem to relax, this is a great blend for you.
- 75 drops lavender
- 45 drops sweet marjoram
- 30 drops Roman chamomile
- 30 drops bergamot
- 6 drops ylang-ylang
- 6 drops valerian root
Gently mix these oils together in a 15 ml amber-colored glass bottle. You can use this blend as you would any other, but a great idea is to use it in a roll-on ball so you can take it with you throughout the day to help relieve muscle tension. Use a carrier oil in your roller bottle such as coconut oil (one tablespoon of carrier oil per 8 drops of oil), and massage it onto the bottom of your feet, your chest, and the back of your neck. Here is a great tutorial on putting together roller bottles.
#16. Essential Oils As a Medically Proven Sleep Aid
A study performed on cancer patients who were unable to sleep following cancer treatment showed that this DIY mixture of essential oils was beneficial for 90% of people. It helped to release tension and anxiety that had built up throughout the day, and led to a full night's sleep. To make this relaxing oil, you will need to use equal parts:
To make this blend, place an equal amount of each of the oils into a bottle and shake it after the cap is on tightly. Use this mixture in your oil diffuser, which will likely instruct you to add water to a specific level that is indicated on the diffuser. Add 8–10 drops of this sleep aid. Put the diffuser near your bed and turn it on just prior to going to bed.
Cedarwood oil has a warm and woody scent that promotes a full night’s rest. Its calming properties enhance relaxation. Cedarwood oil also helps to relieve tension by signaling the brain to produce serotonin and release melatonin, which helps put you in a sedative state of restorative sleep.
#17. Essential Oil Sleep Aid That’s Safe for Children
Not all essential oils are necessarily safe to use around children, so it is always important to do your research before exposing a child to an oil. A great sleeping aid that can even work for your children is equal parts:
Add 8-10 drops of this oil to the water in your diffuser and turn it on right before you or your children go to sleep. This is also a great option for adults who are sensitive to certain smells or oils.
#18. Essential Oil for a Deep Sleep
If you have a lot of trouble with waking up in the middle of the night or your sleep getting interrupted by noise or light, using an essential oil blend that is targeted towards giving you a full night of deep sleep would be best. One recipe for a DIY oil mixture for deep sleep is equal parts:
Add 8-10 drops of this oil into the water of your diffuser and turn it on. Take some deep, calming breaths of the scent before getting ready for bed.
If your diffuser has an intermittent setting on it, use this setting so the scent will last throughout the entire night.
#19. Essential Oils to Calm Your Mind
If you feel that you have a hard time just relaxing at night and letting go of the day, it may be best to use an essential oil an hour or two before bed to prepare your body to wind down. One great recipe for a relaxing oil is:
- 2 drops lavender
- 3 drops sandalwood
- 3 drops frankincense
Mix these together in a bottle and add up to 10 drops into your diffuser a few hours before you go to bed. This relaxing combination will help send a message to your brain that it is time to rest.
How to Use Essential Oils for Sleep
There are four different methods for using essential oils before going to bed. Some ideas include:
#1. Topical Use
When applying essential oils topically, it is important to always use a carrier oil (such as coconut oil) to dilute it. Undiluted essential oils can harm your skin if they make direct contact.
You can mix your essential oils with your carrier oil of choice and use it in several ways. It is great for a muscle massage or just lightly applied to your forehead or behind your ears. The easiest way to apply essential oils topically is by putting them into a glass roll-on bottle.
Here is a great tutorial on making massage oils while using essential oils.
Follow the manufacturer's instructions on your diffuser and add 8-10 drops of your essential oil into the basin with the water. This will help the oils be released into the air so you will breathe them in. (Check out our Essential Oil Diffusers Review.)
Mix water and your essential oils into a spray bottle and mist your pillow before going to sleep. This will help you smell the scent as you're falling asleep and throughout the night.
Add 5-6 drops of your favorite sleep-inducing essential oil or oil blend into a warm tub of water a few hours before bedtime to help your body begin to relax. Customize your bath to your liking by adding in bath salts or other oils as desired.
After going through many failed attempts at improving my quality of sleep, I was so relieved to find that using essential oils was truly effective.
Do you have some more relaxing essential oil recipes to share?
If you have found this tutorial to be helpful in combating your sleep problems, share your story in the comments so people can learn from your success.
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