How many hours of sleep did you get last night?
Was is easy to drift off to sleep, or did you toss and turn, lying awake for hours? Did you sleep peacefully through the night, or did you wake up at 2:00am feeling wide awake and unable to go back to bed?
For many years I have maintained the strong belief that sleep is a key component of health and well-being, impacting both our quality of health and our body’s ability to heal. There is a strong correlation between getting poor unrestful sleep (less than 6 hours per night) and an increased risk of autoimmune disease, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity. In fact, those who continually sleep less than 6 hours per night are 12% more likely to die from cause-mortality than those who get more than 6 hours of sleep per night.
Of course, we all inherently know that sleep is incredibly important for our health, but what do you do when you’re wide awake at night? How do you get relief and the much-needed sleep your body requires?
How to Improve Sleep with Essential Oils
Just like using herbal remedies, essential oils can be very useful when finding the balance between falling asleep and staying asleep. Getting a good 7-8 hours of sleep per night allows the body to reset, rest, regenerate, repair, detoxify, boost immunity, support energy, balance blood sugar, and clarify the mind so you wake up refreshed every time.
To really delve into fixing sleep issues, we must first determine the underlying cause. These can range from hormonal challenges, overburdened organs attempting to detox while you’re asleep, blood sugar fluctuations, to low melatonin levels.
This sounds complicated, but the good news is most sleep issues lend themselves well to essential oil support.
Difficulty Falling Asleep
Many of us have trouble falling asleep due to racing thoughts and recirculating worries in our minds while lying awake in bed. This usually indicates that the body’s natural circadian rhythm is out of balance.
As you know, the stress hormone cortisol is released by the adrenal glands which sit atop the kidneys. Melatonin, our body’s natural sleep hormone, is released by the pineal gland which is situated near the center of the brain. These tiny glands can really cause a lot of havoc despite their size.
Our natural cortisol rhythms are meant to be highest in the morning and slowly wane as the day goes on in preparation for sleep. It is common for people who are active at night and sluggish in the morning to have these levels reversed which throws of our natural sleep and wake cycles. Elevated cortisol turns off melatonin which makes us wakeful at night. Similarly, when melatonin is elevated, cortisol is turned off and we feel sluggish and sleepy during the day. It’s a bit of a balancing act.
Those who struggle to fall asleep usually have these indicators:
• Difficulty waking up in the morning (Is not a morning person)
• Does not feel well after sleep especially naps
• Does not recover well after physical activity
• Headaches during the day
• Inability to fall asleep
• Inability to stay asleep
• Low energy between 4pm and 7pm
These symptoms are often caused by:
• Caffeine consumption after 4pm (including tea!)
• Digestive discomfort (don’t eat bothersome foods, or eat too late)
• Drinking too much fluid before bedtime
• Electronics in your bedroom that give off light or EMFs
• Late night reading
• Stale air (crack a window for good ventilation)
• Stress and worry
• Working late and other overstimulation before bed
The Best Essential Oils for Troubles Falling Asleep
My favorite essential oils for falling asleep are:
• Benzoin– sedative
• Clary-sage– sedative, great for nerves and depression
• Hops– an amazing nerve tonic and sedative
• Lavender*– great for insomnia, nervous tension, and hysteria. A very calming oil
• Marjoram*– anxiety and insomnia tonic
• Nutmeg*– nervousness and insomnia. Can cause vivid dreams
• Roman chamomile*– nerves and insomnia
• Valerian– very calming, sedative, great for nervous conditions, trembling, neuralgia, insomnia, and palpitations
• Vetiver– relaxant. Great for nervousness
One blend I really enjoy is the Sleep Blend by Vibrant Blue Oils. Put it on the bottoms of your feet before bed and feel calm and relaxed for some much-needed restful sleep.
*Small doses work best!
One of the best synergistic essential oil blends for trouble falling asleep has been:
Apply this before bed and relax and inhale deeply for best results. You can also add 3-4 drops to bath water before bed for a similar effect.
The Best Essential Oils for Trouble Staying Asleep
There are three main reasons you may be waking up at night and having trouble falling back to sleep.
Blood Sugar Fluctuations
You may have this issue if you find yourself wide awake in the middle of the night ready to clean your house from floor to ceiling. If blood sugar nose-dives during the night, which can be common for those who suffer from hypoglycemia, the adrenals release a surge of adrenalin as an emergency tactic to raise blood sugar. This, of course, wakes you up better than any alarm clock making it almost impossible to go back to sleep.
To curb this, a blend of rose geranium, helichrysum, anise seed, and rose essential oils will help reduce blood sugar dips while you sleep. Personally, this has been one of the best ways to improve sleep with essential oils!
Apply 1-2 drops in a little carrier oil to the front left side of your body just below the ribs before bedtime.
You can also use this Blood Sugar Blend to help control blood sugar fluctuations during the night.
Detox Wake Ups
This is indicated by being awake between 1 and 3 in the morning. You feel groggy and tired but can’t fall asleep. This is often due to an overburdened liver that’s trying to detox. The liver is most active between 1am and 3am so if you wake during this time, it is often a signal that your liver may need some support.
A few of my favorite liver supporting essential oils include:
All of these oils will help support your liver while it filters toxins, overabundant hormones, and other impurities from the body.
Mix the EOs into 2 tsp of carrier oil and apply it over the liver before bedtime. If you wake at night between 1am and 3am apply again. I find that using a simple roll-on bottle works best for this as you will be quite groggy and can’t be bothered with mixing oils in the middle of the night.
Sleeplessness Caused by Hormonal Imbalance
As you may recall, hormonal imbalance causes cortisol to be high at night and melatonin to be high during the day essentially flip-flopping the body’s natural sleep rhythm. To curb this, you must eliminate all stimulant foods, drinks, and activities before bedtime and also use a blend of essential oils to help rebalance your hormones.
The essential oils I prefer are:
Add 4 drops of each oil to 1 tsp of carrier oil and apply it using a roll-on bottle directly over the liver.
What have been your favorite ways to improve sleep with essential oils?
Just getting started? Check out the articles below!
Beginners Guide to Essential Oils- Part 1
Essential Oils for Sleep
How to Choose The Best Essential Oil Diffuser
50 Essential Oil Recipes You’ve Got To Try In Your Diffuser
Simple Sleep Recipe for Falling Asleep and Staying Asleep
Natural Sleep Aids – The Herbalist’s Way
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