Home > Overcoming Problems > Aromatherapy and Insomnia

Aromatherapy and Insomnia

By: Jennie Kermode - Updated: 20 Jun 2011 | comments*Discuss
 
Aromatherapy Insomnia Sleep Essential

When you're really struggling to get to sleep, there are all sorts of things you can try to calm your senses. Simply turning out the light will relax your eyes. You may prefer silence or Soft Music for your ears. Your skin will appreciate the feel of soft bed covers. When it comes to pleasing your nose, aromatherapy is the natural solution, and it can be more effective than you might expect. Some people find that it works for them even where medicine has failed.

How it Works

There are two different levels at which aromatherapy can work. The first is physical, when the aromatic compounds you inhale have a direct effect on your nervous system. There is limited scientific evidence for this but many substances used in aromatherapy have been proven to have related effects when applied in other ways.

The second mechanism is psychological. Aromatherapy can induce feelings of relaxation especially after you have learned to associate it with the effect you are trying to achieve. A good way to improve the effects of aromatherapy on insomnia is to start using it when you are going through a good patch where sleep isn't too difficult. Your brain will then connect it to feeling relaxed and it will help during your bad patches. Avoid early use when especially Stressed or anxious.

Scents to Try

The most popular scent used to treat insomnia, and the one with the best record of success, is lavender. This is relatively inexpensive and a small bottle will go a long way – you'll need just two to three drops a night. There are many other choices, however, and a good supplier will let you smell different oils to see what appeals to you.

Also effective for insomnia are jasmine, rose, geranium and chamomile. You can stick to one, use different ones on different nights, or even blend them. Remember that this isn't like taking an unpleasant medicine to cure a nasty illness – if you don't like the smell you won't feel relaxed and the aromatherapy won't have its intended effect, so your personal enjoyment is an important factor when making your choice.

It is possible to extract and prepare your own aromatherapy oils but this is usually time-consuming and the result won't be as concentrated as the oils you can buy from a specialist. So, unless you have a lot of free time, you may find that it's a false economy.

Applying Aromatherapy

There are two different ways you can apply aromatherapy oils to treat insomnia: aerial diffusion and topical application.

Aerial diffusion is usually done using an oil burner or a candle. If you use this method, you should be careful to extinguish the heat source before you go to bed. It's better to use it to fragrance the room before you lie down, as once you are in a habit of falling asleep to the familiar scent your sleep response may be triggered more quickly than you expect. An alternative is to put a couple of drops of oil on a metal plate on top of a radiator.

In the case of insomnia, topical application usually means placing a few drops of oil on your pillow or on a soft toy that you like to hug close to your face when you sleep. Both methods can be effective but different people prefer different ones, so you'll have to experiment to discover what's most effective for you.

Safety and Aromatherapy

Properly used, aromatherapy is thought to be very safe as the body only absorbs a small amount of the oils involved. It is important to realise, however, that oils intended to be used as described above should never be drunk, eaten, inhaled or applied directly to the skin, as they are highly concentrated and may have toxic effects. Store them in a safe place away from children and pets who may be attracted to the smell and not appreciate the dangers.

As with any medicine (whether prescribed by a doctor or used as a natural remedy), aromatherapy oils should be used with caution by pregnant women and people with underlying health conditions. If you have asthma or another respiratory problem, experiment with a small amount of your chosen oil in a place where you can easily escape from it if it causes you breathing difficulties. If you suspect you may be experiencing side effects, talk to your doctor.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • Doris
    Re: Feeling Too Cold to Sleep
    Some nights I get so cold even wake up cold. I mean terribly cold to the bone. Can’t get warm even with covers etc. what could be…
    22 April 2019
  • Diane
    Re: Feeling Too Cold to Sleep
    My solution for being cold was an electric mattress cover. Turn on about an hour before bedtime, then shut off. If I go to bed cold, I…
    12 April 2019
  • George S
    Re: Feeling Too Cold to Sleep
    I have the same problem as Adrienne (who commented above) and I have been through a series of medical tests and procedures with no…
    2 April 2019
  • Susy
    Re: Dehydration and Insomnia
    This is interesting! I have found that if I do not drink enough water , at least 1,5 liters during the day, I cannot go to sleep. I…
    26 March 2019
  • julie
    Re: Coughing and Sleep Loss
    Hi I had a cold on Sunday, it started with hit and cold feeling changing every hour, I started taking paracetamol fir it. Before going to…
    14 March 2019
  • Adrienne
    Re: Feeling Too Cold to Sleep
    Why do i get cold at nights? While in day I'm normal? It's been 1 week now after my first encounter about this and I'm worried. Last…
    5 March 2019
  • Ukung
    Re: Feeling Too Cold to Sleep
    While sleeping I feel extreme cold and need two three blankets. My husband, who is on insulin, swets. How can I get rid of this? While…
    15 February 2019
  • steve jaubert
    Re: Dehydration and Insomnia
    Hello, I read a recent email from Dr Carolyn Dean who is involved with marketing products for Magnesium deficiencies. She does have…
    2 November 2018
  • Princess lynn
    Re: Feeling Too Cold to Sleep
    I have tried all of them but for me they don’t work. And I am home alone. My heating is on but I am still cold. What should I do?
    27 October 2018
  • Susie
    Re: Involuntary Jerking While Asleep, What Could it be?
    My partner keeps me awake he his continuously moving his arms and legs all night he doesn't realize…
    17 October 2018