Last updated: January 7th, 2017
Using essential oils to help you sleep is one of those ancient remedies that is making a comeback. An easy and effective way to soothe your brain and put your mind into a sleepy place is to use aromatherapy. There are many essential oils that are proven to help calm your thoughts and get your mind ready to send you off to sleep. I hope this review of the best essential oils for sleep will open your eyes (and then get them to close) to the many ways that essential oils can benefit your sleep.
Table of Contents
Best Essential Oils For Sleep
While you can mix your own essential oils to create a custom recipe, there are some ready-made blends that work very well.
Good Night Essential Oil Blend 10ml
Good Night Blend is one of the top-rated essential oils. Its main benefit is helping you relax, which then allows your body to fall asleep. It is 100% pure and organic as well as quality tested. The company offers a full refund if you are ever unsatisfied for any reason.
True Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
There are a few different kinds of lavender, but it has been proven that lavender has the best properties to induce sleep. Lavender essential oil is scientifically proven to help calm the mind and soothe you into falling asleep.
Best used for: diffuser, massage, bath, linens
Most people are familiar with chamomile as a great tea to help you fall asleep. Its oils can be used in many different ways to achieve a peaceful and calm mind that will get you ready for sleep.
Roman chamomile has long been used for nerve pain. Its soothing properties makes it ideal for calming restless leg syndrome which keeps many people awake at night.
Best used for: massages (especially on feet and pulse points), baths, diffuser
Cedarwood is often used in dressers and wardrobes to keep clothes smelling fresh. The woodsy aroma also calms the mind. For those who have a mind that races at night, this essential oil can stop those endless conversations with yourself.
Best used for: Massage oil, diffuser
Sweet marjoram is especially helpful for stressed and depressed people. It has a calming and sedating effect on the nervous system which helps to lower blood pressure, ease nervous tension and hyperactivity, and soothe loneliness and grief. In fact, it has even been used in teas for grieving widows.
Best used for: massages, linen spritz, baths
Once absorbed into the skin, or inhaled, Valerian's many compounds can release hormones and balance your body’s cycles. Starting with your body and ending with a calm mind, you will fall asleep and stay asleep longer if you use Valerian essential oil.
Best used for: pulse point massages
Similar to Valerian and Sweet marjoram, Clary Sage is an anti-stressor and is great for people who feel depressed. It’s known to block receptors that cause stress and to balance your hormones. When used with a carrier oil that is easily absorbed into the skin, it will help you get into a deep sleep.
Best used for: baths, diffuser
Citrus essential oils such as lemon, orange bergamot, and grapefruit are bright and cheery. If you need a scent that will lift you out of Seasonally Affective Disorder, these oils are ideal. Once your mood improves, your mind can be at peace, and you will be able to drift off to sleep.
Best used for: diffuser, linen spritz
What are Essential Oils?
According to Wikipedia an essential oil is “a concentrated hydrophobic liquid containing volatile aroma compounds from plants." Essential oils are also known as volatile oils, ethereal oils, aetherolea, or simply as the oil of the plant from which they were extracted. An oil is "essential" in the sense that it contains the "essence of" the plant's fragrance—the characteristic fragrance of the plant from which it is derived.
These oils can be used as aromatherapy or even medicinally. Though there is not enough research to determine if they can be used as an effective medicinal therapy, enough anecdotal evidence exists from centuries of use that there is some benefit derived from their use.
What is Aromatherapy?
The basic idea of aromatherapy is that different scents can bring on different moods and can change behavior. Inhaling some of these scents can even stimulate brain function.
In the case of using aromatherapy as a sleep aid, there are essential oils that will cause the brain to want to sleep. Using an essential oil with calming properties can help you fall asleep and stay asleep longer.
Essential Oils and Safety
Before you get started using essential oils, it’s important to consider the potential ill effects of improper usage of essential oils. Most are harmless, so there’s nothing to be alarmed about when it comes to using essential oils.
The single most important consideration when using essential oils is knowing you can use too much. Using too large of a dose can mean that the opposite reaction that you hope to achieve could happen. If you are trying to fall asleep and use too much of an oil, the aroma could actually keep you awake.
Tip: Never use undiluted essential oils on your skin!
Too much of a dose applied to the skin can also lead to rash or irritation. Whenever you apply an essential oil topically, it should be diluted with a carrier oil such as fractionated coconut oil.
What is harmless on one application of essential oils might be harmful if applied another way. In other words, some oils are meant to be inhaled rather than used topically. You might be able to to eat some oils, but that same oil could cause a rash if you were to put it on your skin. The opposite is also true.
A good example of this is cinnamon oil. An essential oil of cinnamon can be inhaled but, in high concentration, can irritate the skin. It could also cause problems if it is ingested.
Citrus oils like bergamot are phototoxic if used undiluted topically and then exposed to direct sunlight. On the other hand, bergamot oil is great in tea, as it is the flavor in Earl Grey tea.
Allergic Reactions To Essential Oils
You may be allergic to an essential oil and not know it. Before you use an oil topically, a patch test should be performed. Mix a double dose of essential oil to your carrier oil. For example, if you usually add three drops of essential oil to a teaspoon of carrier oil, add six drops this time. Then apply a small dab, around the size of a pea, to the inside of your arm and cover it with a bandaid. Leave it there for at least 24 hours and check for irritation.
If your skin is still clear, you are good to go. If you see any sign of rash or inflammation, or if it is very itchy, you are probably allergic and should avoid that oil.
Essential Oils and Kids
Most essential oils can benefit children as well as adults. One thing to keep in mind, however, is how sensitive a baby or child’s skin may be. Make sure you use lower doses of essential oil than you would use on yourself. Any oil that is similar to menthol should be avoided. Oils such as peppermint, eucalyptus, and tea tree can cause breathing problems.
Always keep oils out of the reach of children
Ways to Use Essential Oils To Help Fall Asleep
In a Bath
A warm bath right before bed, even without adding any essential oils, is a great way to relax the muscles and the mind to put yourself in a sleepy mood. Adding oils takes bathtime to another level.
Run a warm bath (not too hot) and, while the water is running, add a few drops of oil. The running water will evenly distribute the oils throughout the bath. Generally, 7-10 drops of oil will be enough in a regular-sized bathtub to create a soothing aroma.
The steam coming off of the water will contain some of the essential oils that you will then breath in. Soaking for 15-20 minutes while the water is still warm is usually enough time to receive the full benefits of the bath. Make sure you don’t get any water in your eyes as the oils may cause irritation.
Sore, achy muscles can make it hard to fall asleep when you get into bed. You can kill two birds with one stone and give yourself a light massage with essential oils. A more effective way to get the most out of a massage combined with aromatherapy is to have your partner give you a light rub down.
Mix a few drops of essential oil to your carrier oil. The usual amount is three drops of essential oil per teaspoon of carrier oil.
Put some of the oil mix into the palm of your hand, and rub your palms together before massaging. This will warm up the oil so it doesn’t feel cold on your skin. Then, gently rub the problem areas of your body. Don’t rub too hard as stimulating your muscles just before bed will actually make it harder to sleep.
Just like with cologne or perfume, rubbing some essential oil on your pulse points works wonders. Your pulse points are your chest, neck, temples, wrists, and even feet.
The heat from these areas of your body will react with the oil and send the aroma wafting over you. If you don’t want a full massage, or you only want to take a few seconds before bed, this is a very effective way to sooth your nerves and get ready for sleep.
Spritz On Your Linens
You may not like the feeling of having that oil on your skin when you get into bed. In this case, a spritz over your linens or pillow will give you the same aromatherapy. Mix 6-10 drops of essential oil with two tablespoons of witch hazel and four ounces of water into a spray bottle.
Mist your pillow and sheets lightly about 10 minutes before getting into bed. Don’t go crazy with the spray as it will just make your linens wet and won’t likely dry before you get into bed. The mist should evaporate quickly allowing you to sleep comfortably with the aroma surrounding you.
Essential Oil Scent Diffuser
There are many different scent diffusers that you can use to get your favorite essential oil for sleep into your bedroom air. From DIY reed diffusers, to candle diffusers, to high tech electronic diffusers, what they all have in common is that they will get the essential oil dissipated throughout the room.
One thing to keep in mind with reed diffusers is that you can’t turn them off; therefore, it is a good idea to go light with the scent. This way, you don’t overpower your room with a strong scent which will prevent you from becoming desensitized to the aroma nullifying the therapeutic effect.
Generally, you will want to use a jar that can hold ¼ cup of oil. Add a light carrier oil, like safflower, with a teaspoon of rubbing alcohol. Add a few drops of your essential oil and place the reeds into the jar.
The oil will travel up the reeds and evaporate leaving the air filled with the scent of your favorite aroma.
This diffuser is a little clay pot closed with a cork. Terracotta is very porous, and the strong scent of the essential oils easily permeates the walls and dissipates into the air.
Add some carrier oil to the pot and mix in a few drops of your essential oil. After some time, the scent will diminish and it will be time to remove the rest of the oil and add some newly-mixed oil.
A candle diffuser is a diffuser that utilizes a tea light or other candle to gently heat the essential oil to promote diffusion into a room. Usually made from ceramic, it is a small bowl that sits over the small tealight.
The heated oil evaporates and fills the room with the soothing aroma of your favorite essential oil.
Light your candle 15-20 minutes before bedtime to get your room scented. Then, just as you get into bed, blow out your candle. The heated oil will continue to give off its scent for a few hours after you blow out the candle.
Obviously, you need to be very careful when using a candle with hot oil. Don’t put this too close to your bed where it could accidentally be knocked over and burn you.
Fan and Electric Heat Diffusers
Fan and heat diffusers are both electronic. They are very effective at getting your aromatherapy scent into a large area. They usually don’t need to use a carrier oil, so a little bit of essential oil goes a long way when using one of these diffusers.
About 30 minutes before bed, turn on your diffuser and let the room fill with the scent. Shut it off just as you go to bed so the scent doesn’t get too powerful and end up keeping you awake instead of helping you sleep.
It looks just like a stick of lip balm, but what it does is give you a perfect dose of your favorite aroma. Inside is a cotton stick that absorbs the oil. Add a few drops to the cotton and put the cover back on. When you are ready to go to bed, just put the inhaler up to one nostril, close the other, and take a breath. Then switch nostrils.
Best Essential Oils For Sore Throat, Congestion and Fever
Getting a good night's rest is essential to getting healthy when you are sick with a cold. But, when you are sick, it is just so hard to fall asleep.
Using essential oils to treat your cold can go a long way to helping you fall asleep, stay asleep, and feel much better when you wake up. The best way to use these oils when you are trying to beat a cold is with a diffuser or to inhale them directly.
Keeping microbes at bay during the winter is the best way to prevent a cold from happening to begin with. Use a diffuser with these essential oils to destroy the germs in the air.
Eucalyptus oil can be beneficial when you have a cold because it is anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory. Rubbing it on pulse points like the chest, nose, and neck, where it can be inhaled, works wonders. Probably the most effective way to use eucalyptus is to steam inhale it. Boil some water, and put a few drops of the oil in the hot water. With your head above the bowl, inhale deeply, getting the steam into your lungs.
Tea Tree Oil
Like eucalyptus oil, tea tree oil is anti-microbial and anti-viral. It is also an anti-septic which is great for wounds. In this guide, we are just talking about how it can help ease the symptoms of a cold and help you rest. When you have a cold, this oil is wonderful for clearing congestion.
Rubbing it on your chest when you have chest congestion will soothe and open your airways. Putting it into a bath or inhaling the steam, like I described for the eucalyptus oil, is also recommended.
Lavender, rosemary, peppermint, camphor, thyme, oregano and sage
These oils should be used in a diffuser when you want to ward off many illnesses such as colds and fever.
The Best Essential Oils for Sore Throat
The three most effective ways to ease your sore throat with essential oils are to inhale a steam infusion, make a throat rub, or gargle.
To make a gargle, fill a glass with lukewarm water and add 1-2 drops of any of the following essential oils: rosemary, lemon, garlic, ginger, or sage. Gargle for a couple of seconds and then spit the mixture out. Repeat until the glass is empty, or you feel some relief. Make sure you don’t swallow the mixture as the oils could end up making you sick.
A steam infusion works best with tea tree oil, eucalyptus oil, peppermint oil, or black pepper oil. Some people will advise you to gargle with any of these, but I really don’t recommend that. If you were to swallow these by accident, they could cause some serious health problems.
Use any of these essential oils to make great steam infusions, and add them to your favorite carrier oil. Then, rub them on your throat and let them work their magic. The menthol quality of these oils will work its way into your throat and soothe it.
Essential Oils For Fever
Creating a chest rub, a compress, and a healing bath are the best ways to use essential oils to bring down a fever.
Chamomile, black pepper, peppermint, lemon, lavender, and tea tree are all excellent essential oils for this purpose. Use a carrier oil that is easily absorbed into the skin, such as jojoba or sweet almond, and add a couple of drops of any of those essential oils. Rub this oil on your chest, and then cover the area with a blanket to direct the vapors into your chest.
Drawing a hot bath will get the oils into your skin and allow you to breath in the oil-infused steam; this will help get their properties into your bloodstream.
Create a compress with a small towel soaked in warm water containing a few drops of essential oil. Fold up the compress, and drape it over your forehead. Be very, very careful not to get any into your eyes as it will cause a terrible irritation.
Getting to sleep when your muscles are sore and achy can be a challenge. Not only is it painful, but also distracting.
Instead of using conventional muscle rubs, try some essential oils with menthol. The conventional muscle rubs are filled with potentially harmful chemicals. A natural solution will give you the same results.
Essential oils that help relieve sore muscles are tea tree, eucalyptus, peppermint, ginger, rosemary, cypress, and lavender, in that order. Tea tree and eucalyptus are the most effective.
The best way to alleviate muscle pain with essential oils is to give yourself, or have somebody else give you, a light massage. Use a carrier oil that is easily absorbed into the skin and also doesn’t compete with the essential oil. Both sweet almond and avocado oil are very good for this.
A warm bath on it’s own is also good for warming up your muscles and feeling less achy. Adding a few drops of any of these oils to the bath will relieve that pain much more effectively.
Effective Aromatherapy Recipes
One essential oil that has calming effects can help you get to sleep. Combinations of different oils, then, are even more effective. It’s also fun experimenting with different combinations of aromas.
Here are a few recipes that you may want to try. It is usually a case of trial and error to find your favorite combination that works best. Make sure you try a few of these recipes, and report back when you find a good one.
Calming recipes for diffusers
- Lavender 5 drops
- Chamomile 3 drops
- Clary Sage 2 drops
- Sweet Marjora 3 drops
- Ylang Ylang 2 drops
- Valerian 1 drop
- Coriander 3 drops
- Bergamot 2 drops
- Vetiver 1 drop
Best Essential Oils - Conclusion
If you are skeptical about using essential oils and aromatherapy as an effective sleep aid, but are still interested, I urge you to give it a try. Anything that helps calm you down will naturally put your body in a sleep-ready state.
The sense of smell is very powerful. Have you ever had a smell take you back to a place in time with a powerful memory? Just recently, I switched soaps to one I used many years ago. The aroma brought me right back to that time in my life, and the memories were as vivid as if I were back in time. The same goes for the smell of food.
If that is the case, then I don’t think it’s a stretch to think that these essential oils can have an effect on the brain. Certain sounds and smells can definitely calm us down and that, in turn, helps us fall asleep.
Sleep is so important to our health and mental well-being; therefore, trying essential oils to help you sleep is certainly worth doing. The worst-case scenario is you and your room will smell great!