Because of my chemical sensitivities, I have been very reluctant in trying to use essential oils. However, I have since done quite a bit of research and importantly, have tried several different oils. Amazingly I have found that, not only can I tolerate some of the varieties, but I greatly benefit from them!
In my desperation to improve the quality of my sleep, I registered for the current Sleep Summit and I was emailed 3 interviews to listen to at my leisure. I listened to the interview with Dr. Eric Zielinski who is an expert on essential oils.
What are Essential Oils?
They are basically chemicals in plants that allow the plant to survive and thrive. They protect the plant from insect predators and attract beneficial bugs for pollination.
When properly purified, distilled and concentrated, they can be used for healing in humans. Generally all the essential oils are anti-microbial, anti-fungal and anti-viral.
And a little goes a long way.
They are mainly used as aromatherapy but may also be used for ingestion (with certain cautions) and very safely in topical skincare products.
3 Ways to Use Essential Oils
Aromatic use is essentially inhaling the oils. This can be used in a diffuser (like this one) or even inhaled right from the bottle.
Topical use gives two benefits because you are getting it absorbed through the skin and also inhaling it. When you use it topically, you always dilute it in a carrier oil such as coconut oil, almond oil or jojoba oil. This facilitates the skin opening up to accept the essential oil. The ratio would be 5 drops of carrier oil to 1 drop of essential oil or a 5:1 ratio.
When essential oils are applied to the skin (in a carrier oil) it takes only about 20 minutes for the oil to penetrate into the bloodstream. Popular areas to treat with the oils are the bottom of the feet, back of the knees, wrists and back of the neck.
Some oils are more powerful than others so you need to educate yourself about each oil you are using. For example, oregano oil (used for acne) is very very strong and MUST be well diluted or you can burn your skin.
There are certain oils that are safe for ingestion. The FDA has a database of essential oils that are GRAS (generally recognized as safe) where you can find out which oils are safe for this usage. Usually, they are diluted in water or food.
Make sure you are well versed in using essential oils for ingestion before you do so.
Essential Oils for Sleep Issues
In 2014 the Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medical Journal published a study on the effects of aromatherapy on anxiety, vital signs and sleep on heart patients in the ICU. They used 3 essential oils; lavender, roman chamomile and neroli in a 6 to 2.5 ratio. They found that these oils significantly improved sleep quality, lowered anxiety and lowered blood pressure, in patients undergoing cardiac stent insertion (that would be a cause for anxiety for sure).
This is so important, because people are taking many dangerous medications for these issues and they can be using these oils instead that have no side effects.
The Down Side to Essential Oils
One of the biggest turn offs for me was the multi-level marketing companies that sell essential oils.
Many people and several of my patients have tried to get me to join one of the multi-level marketing companies, and have offered me samples and advice.
In all the years I have been practicing, I have never joined a multi-level marketing company. I simply do not agree with the principles behind them. I will say that many of the companies do have a good product (supplement companies as well as essential oil companies) but they tend to be overpriced due to the structure of the company.
I did not want to make money that way.
I have since found a good essential oil company that sells a retail product of very high quality.
The Up Side to Essential Oils for Sleep
The interesting thing about essential oils is that we all may respond differently to them. As I mentioned above, I do not tolerate some of the oils at all, in fact, lavender, which is almost always the go-to oil, is one that I cannot tolerate. But put ylang ylang under my nose and I will immediately relax.
This is why it is important to have a few different oils on hand so that you can experiment with different combinations or singles to see how you respond.
The Following 10 Essential Oils Improve the Quality of Sleep
Chamomile, clary sage, lavender, lemon, orange, neroli, Roman chamomile, rose, rose-scented geranium, sandlewood and vetiver.
Other oils to use:
Frankincense, bergamot, lime. You can play around with different combinations.
For anxiety related to sleep issues, the most popular oils are: bergamot, clary sage, lavender, lemon. orange, Roman chamomile, rose, rose-scented geranium and sandlewood.
Well that’s more than 10 oils – better to count oils than sheep to get to sleep! Wouldn’t you agree? Have you had success in improving the quality of your sleep with essential oils? Please share in the comments below!
Want more information on how to get the best sleep?
Paleo Mom, Dr. Sarah Ballantyne has written a very informative and helpful book on just this topic. Join the Go To Sleep CHALLENGE and take one tiny step each day towards better sleep!
Train yourself to sleep like a baby with Go To Bed – 14 Easy Steps to Healthier Sleep!
With Go To Bed: 14 Easy Steps to Healthier Sleep, you’ll learn how much sleep you actually need and how to get it! Even more importantly, you’ll learn what small changes you can make during the day to improve your sleep at night!
Buy the book and get in on the next Group Go To Bed Sleep Challenge, which starts August 14th, hosted by the Go To Bed Facebook and Instagram communities. I hope to see you there!
Want to feel like a million bucks in the morning after a good night sleep? Check out Go To Bed – 14 Easy Steps to Healthier Sleep!
Dr. Ballantyne has made it so easy to get your insomnia under control! There is a Quickstart Guide, lots of checklists and easy-to-find information from the book itself.