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Sleep & Insomnia

Essential Oils for Insomnia

Scents that help you sleep.

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There’s nothing wrong with occasional sleeplessness, but if you are starting to worry about it, feel tired all day, or are mentally unalert, then you possibly suffer from insomnia (perpetual, chronic sleeplessness). More than 60 million Americans do. Lack of sleep can lead to problems in your waking life such as tiredness, poor concentration, agitation, depression, dizziness, and headaches. Fortunately, even if you suffer only from occasional sleeplessness, certain scents can help you drift off to dreamland.

10 Essential Oils for Insomnia

Aromatherapy can help to relax the body and mind. Research shows that just by inhaling certain essences, we can minimize stress and anxiety. Aromatherapy is able to reach centers of the brain such as the amygdala that influence mood and energy. Essential oils including anise, chamomile, bergamot, rose, sandalwood, jasmine, fennel, and geranium work well for insomnia, says Kathi Keville, author of The Little Book of Aromatherapy. “They go right to the brain to cause relaxation and lull you to sleep,” she says.

Essential oils can be added to a warm bath or foot bath before bedtime, or added to a carrier oil such as almond oil. “An oil can be gently rubbed onto any convenient-to-reach parts of the body,” says Valerie Ann Worwood, author of The Complete Book of Essential Oils & Aromatherapy. “A diffuser in the bedroom works well too, used overnight.” A few drops of an essential oil is usually enough to be effective—in fact, using too much of some soothing scents can have a stimulating effect. “Some essential oils are only relaxing when used in low doses,” says Worwood. “Don’t use more than 3 drops in a bath, for example.” Worwood recommends the following essential oils for insomnia [stars indicate those best used in small amounts.]

  1. Lavender*
  2. Benzoin
  3. Marjoram*
  4. Clary-sage
  5. Chamomile
  6. Vetiver
  7. Roman*
  8. Hops
  9. Nutmeg*
  10. Valerian

*Use in low doses.

General Synergistic Blend For Insomnia

These calming aromas work even better together. 

  • 1–2 drops clary-sage
  • 1–2 drops vetiver
  • 1–2 drops valerian
  • 1–2 drops lavender
  • Mix 3 drops of each per bath, or 2 drops of each per 1 tsp. carrier oil for a body rub.

—From The Complete Book of Essential Oils & Aromatherapy by Valerie Ann Worwood

Make Your Own Sleep Pillow

This homemade insomnia formula can be sprinkled on a pillow or added to a bath.

  • 6 drops bergamot
  • 3 drops chamomile
  • 3 drops geranium
  • 1 drop frankincense
  • 1 drop rose

Combine all essential oils and sprinkle onto a small pillow. Put the pillow in a sealed plastic bag for at least two days so the scent can permeate it, then keep it on your bed ready to grab and sniff whenever insomnia lurks. You can also take it with you when you travel. Alternately, add this blend to 2 ounces carrier oil. Massage into skin, or add 1 to 2 tsp. to an evening bath.

—From The Little Book of Aromatherapy by Kathi Keville