The power of scent cannot be exaggerated as it is closely linked to memory and emotion. The smell of different scents influences a person’s mood, ability to focus, boost energy level, helps you relax and also affects your sleep. Certain oils or concentrated version of natural oil made from plants helps to improve sleep quality. If you have smelled fresh cookies baking in the oven, you will know that scents have a strong impact on how we feel. Sometimes encountering a certain smell abruptly elicits a strong memory or feelings.
What the research says
According to research, essential oil has many different benefits, such as strengthening the immune system to reduce the feelings of anxiety, removes stress and also be a powerful way to help you relax.
Research on essential oil is limited; lavender oil is widely conceded as a sleeping aid. It increases the amount of slow and deep wave sleep and promotes relaxation and drowsiness in a person.
The researchers in a 2013 study founded that when the oil is used through a diffuser, it helped the participants undergoing a urodynamic examination to relax more effectively.
How these scents affect the body and mind
Our sense of smell is directly connected to the brain, which controls our emotions. The cells inside the nose detect all the aroma and odor of everything around us and transfer it to the brain via olfactory nerve. There is also a cluster of cells at the top of our throat that detects the smell of the food we consume. The information is immediately transferred to the limbic system of the brain, which comprises regions of the amygdala that manages emotional reaction and memories.
The thalamus is a small part of our brain located just above the brain stem. With the help of thalamus, the data is passed in the other parts of the brain, which produce our sensory perceptions. That’s why you identify with the scent of the rose garden, or cookies in the oven, or banana bread baking, comes on instantly and so strongly.
The ancient aromatherapy
People are using essential oil for a medical purpose from the prehistoric period. Going back to the primaeval era, the Chinese, Egyptian, and the Romans have used this therapy. Aromatherapy is an alternative medicine that depends on the powerful sense of smell. They used essential oils from the plants, roots, fruits, etc. to heal the body, mind and soul. Aromatherapy is just the modern name of the ancient practice. And from years, from ancient time till today, the scientists have been conducting experiments on sleep-promoting, pain reducing, stress relieving and mood-boosting benefits of the oil.
The scientific benefits
Natural mind and body therapies relieve stress, anxiety, low mood and physical discomfort and generate better sleep. The use of aromatherapy has the ability to do all these things. The oils which have been used for centuries to stimulate relaxation and improve mental and physical health have been studied by scientists to enhance and understand their benefits to sleep and health.
- Sleep – A research shows that certain oils can provide relief from disrupted sleep and improve them. In 2017, a study was carried out to compare the effects of aromatherapy and acupressure massage on sleep and quality of life. Researchers found that a sleep-promoting essential oil worked more effectively than acupressure to improve sleep. The blended oils are more successful.
- Stress and anxiety – The prime obstacles of a sound and restful sleep are stress and anxiety. People who have more stress and anxiety often face a lot of difficulty to sleep and end up sleeping restlessly throughout the night. Many research states that aromatherapy can help to relieve stress and anxiety, which will help you enjoy a sound sleep.
- Depression – Depression is a silent killer of a sound sleep. Depression and sleeping problem often go hand in hand. Aromatherapy can ameliorate depressive symptoms. In a 2016 analysis, it was found that aromatherapy is also effective in treating stress and depression of middle-aged women due to menopause symptom.
How does it help to sleep?
Choosing the right scent that stimulates relaxation and drives our body to a restful state is very important. Essential oil has a nice fragrance that makes our sleeping experience pleasant. Many people prefer essential oil because it’s natural and doesn’t have any side effects like any other sleep medicines. Many sleep medications affect our health and cause serious heart problems. In a study, it was found that smelling jasmine can calm the nerves and acts as sleeping pills without any side effects.
Essential oil has also the ability to adapt to the person taking them and have different effects on different people. For example, vetiver oil alleviates insomnia for some people and for some, it creates refreshing feelings. Some oils like tangerine and lemongrass are known for their ability to activate the nerves and other senses instantly and should be avoided as a sleeping aid.
Essential oils for better sleep
Here are some essential oils that support healthy sleep:
- Lavender –The most effective and popular essential oil for sleep and relaxation. Lavender is connected in stabilizing heart rate, skin temperature and blood pressure, all necessary ingredients for a good sleep. Inhaling lavender improves sleep quality, and it may treat insomnia. It is the most meticulously studied essential oil. According to a study of 159 postpartum women was undergone treatment with aromatherapy for eight weeks, and the result showed it improved their sleep quality. Lavender also has the potential to reduce anxiety and depression. You just need few drops of lavender oil onto a cotton ball and then place it beside your pillow until morning.
- Cedarwood – Cedrol components are found in the cedarwood which produce sedative effects. A study of 178 women found that the miosis rate increased after cedrol inhalation, which shows cedrol has sedative effects. Another study involving adults with dementia, cedar oil was placed on towels and pillows around them every night for 20days. The participants sleep time was longer.
- Valerian –This essential oil is purified from the roots of plants. It’s rich and earthy smelling oil, which also relax your mind. It is often taken as supplements or bedtime herbal teas.
- Bergamot –Bergamot is a citrus fruit, and the oil is extracted from the peel. Most citrus fruit oil tends to have a stimulating effect, but bergamot is bright and calm at the same time.
- Sandalwood –It’s rich and woody smell oil, which has an ancient history of use for relaxation. Research indicates sandalwood can be effectual in treating anxiety. It has a sedative effect which increases Non-REM sleep.
- Roman Chamomile –Roman chamomile is an essential oil known for calming, soothing and relaxing the nerves of the brain. It is a nice floral scent which will keep your bedroom atmosphere pleasant.
- Jasmine –It has a sweet floral scent and has a serious sleep promoting abilities. Research shows jasmine improves sleep quality and prevent from restless sleeping. It is often said that Jasmine is better in lowering anxiety than lavender.
How to use essential oils
Many people seem interested in utilizing essential oils for better sleep, but they are not sure how. Here are a few vital tips to get you started:
- Use a diffuser – Dilute the oil with an air diffuser, which will disperse oil into the air of your room.
- Apply to the body – Apply the oil or massage directly to your body parts, such as the hands, neck, wrist or ears.
- Add oil to your bath – Put a few drops of your favorite oil into your bath water, it is a great way to get the relaxation and sleep advantages of aromatherapy.
- Make your own mist – Mix essential oil and water in a bottle as instructed and spray around your room and under your pillow.
Essential oils to avoid
Some essential oils play a negative role and increase alertness, and not helping you to sleep:
- Vetiver oil increases total waking time and reduces slow wave sleep time.
- Petit grain essential oil increase alertness.
- Sage essential oil also found to increase alertness and attentiveness in a study.
- Sandalwood sometimes promotes wakeful and attentive relaxation.
Side effects of essential oils
Some people experience many skin problems and allergic reaction after using essential oils.Essential oils are vigorous in nature; you should take proper caution while using aromatherapy.If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you ought to avoid strong essential oils.Essential oil should never be taken internally without asking your doctor or health professional.
While using essential oil, always pay attention to how you feel. It profoundly differs from person to person. Each of us reacts to scents differently. It’s your mind who decides which scent helps you relax and reduce anxiety, and which makes you feel alert and awake. You might need to experiment with different oils before you find the right one. As essential oils are generally considered safe, if you are having some sleep issue, you should always consult your doctor first and then use it to get a good night sleep.