Create a healthy sleep routine
NATURAL REMEDIES FOR A HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP WITH SLEEP
Surrender to sleep’s soothing embrace and awake feeling refreshed, with nature’s pure essential oils.
Is your mind on constant alert and never given the chance to let go and unwind in preparation for sleep? Do you feel the need to indulge yourself in the occasional good night’s rest? With all the disrupters and hyper-connectivity today, it’s becoming harder and harder to reclaim our well-earned rest at the end of each day.
Happily, it is possible with the nurturing powers of pure essential oils to re-establish a healthy sleep routine so you wake feeling refreshed and renewed. Adopting an essential oil bedtime ritual can be the beginning of a new relationship with sleep which is effortless, enjoyable and unique to you.
Arianna Huffington in her compelling book, The Sleep Revolution, asserts that getting enough quality sleep “gives us strength, energy, power and creativity, it makes us happier and less anxious and more able to handle stress.”
Sleep is just as vital to our existence as breathing and yet it is often the first compromise we make when our lives are under stress. We need to be reminded again and again that a compromised sleep routine depletes our immune system which prevents the body from undertaking its major repair work during deeper sleep cycles.
Of growing concern are MJA Medical surveys which have shown that over one third of the Australian population has trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep. When sleep is continually lacking, disruption of your circadian rhythms and internal 24 hour clock, can result not only in fatigue and depleted energy, but also poor memory, low productivity and general irritability. Professor Walker, neuroscientist and author of, Why We Sleep avows that there is not a single human function that does not benefit from sleep. It is as important as eating and drinking water.
How aromatherapy can help to improve sleep
Certain pure essential oils, when inhaled or massaged onto the body, are capable of relaxing the mind and body as they contain linalool, a compound which is calming and soothing to the central nervous system. Research has shown that the sedative action of simply smelling a few drops of your favourite oil can help induce a state of slumber that will continue throughout the night. Lavender, in particular is renowned for improving sleep quality as is the sedative action of Valerian.
In addition to acting as natural sedatives, essential oils reduce stress levels often synonymous with sleep disorders. Regular use will reinstate healthy sleep patterns and improve sleep quality.
Above all, we can establish a calming bedtime ritual with pure essential oils. Their delicate particles scent the air preparing a sanctuary to retreat from our hi-tech, hyper- connected lives, helping us to switch off and relax. They signal to your brain that it’s time to wind down and prepare for sleep.
Essential oils have a myriad of therapeutic properties which work to settle and sedate the central nervous system. Importantly, when used as directed, they have no side effects, helping you wake feeling refreshed rather than dull and listless, unlike some over-the-counter medications which often leave us feeling drowsy and foggy the following day.
In addition, essential oils work on the entire nervous system. Ester-rich oils help balance hormones which play a major part in regulating sleep patterns. When the endocrine system is impacted by extreme fatigue, balancing oils will help regulate hormones, which also affect libido and mental health. Quality sleep benefits our pre-frontal cortex, where most of our decision making and problem solving occurs. Because oils are rapidly incorporated into the limbic system, they offer an immediate remedy for insomnia. Finally, regular use of pure essential oils can help you establish a consistent sleep pattern which allows your circadian rhythms, your internal 24-hour clock which regulates your sleep/wake cycle, to operate at its peak.
Transform your bedroom into a sanctuary; a haven exclusive for sleep. Invite the delicate essential oil particles to permeate the room and envelop you with their soporific properties to drift off into the land of nod!
Indulge in a soothing soak with pure essential oils, dispense a few drops of lavender on your pillow, lather your body with a soothing balm, apply a roll-on to the neck and shoulder or add a few drops to 5ml (1tsp) sweet almond base and massage onto the back and shoulders before going to bed. These simple solutions can help us make a seamless transition from the day’s challenges to surrender to sleep’s soothing embrace.
Although there are many oils promoted for sleep, the following are some of the most popular and also include my all-time favourites, which I have recommended with confidence for decades.
- Marjoram: A potent natural sedative, this sweet herb is an amazing addition to any blend for its ability to aid sleep.
- Rich, woods and resins such as Cedarwood, Frankincense and Australian Sandalwood are most notable for not only inducing sleep states, but also for managing anxiety. The compounds in these oils actually support the final stages of REM sleep – providing a deeper and more profound night’s sleep.
- Heart notes such as Lavender, Helichrysum and Chamomile, for instance, have high levels of the compound linalool which is renowned for its sedative and calming effect on the central nervous system. These ester-rich oils have been used for centuries to promote sleep and are regarded as sleep elixirs by practitioners. By simply diffusing a few drops of these oils an hour before turning in for the night will improve the overall quality of rest.
- The addition of citrus such as Sweet Orange, Bergamot and Mandarin can also promote a sense of calm and add to the composition of any sleep blend. Citrus oils contain high levels of limonene content and are excellent nerve tonics.
- And finally exotic sweet florals, such as Neroli and Ylang Ylang are also indicated for modulating brain activity and hence assisting the body to relax. They make wonderful sleep remedies. Simply add a few drops of Neroli to bath water for a soothing soak.
The growing interest in aromatherapy has led to the rise of numerous ready- made products, and In Essence has excelled in this category to include new delivery systems such as roll-ons, balms and mists to aid the sleep cycle and turn this necessary function into a ritual to behold!
Safety: Always seek medical advice if symptoms persist. Do not ingest pure essential oil nor apply neat to the skin. Keep away from children and use only as directed.
Associate member of IAAMA, International Aromatherapy & Aromatic Medicine Association, 2016; Bachelor of Arts and Dip. Education (English/History major) UNSW, Sydney, Australia; Aromatherapy 1, Australian College of Natural Medicine; Cert 1V in Training and Assessment, TAE40110, HBA Learning Centre, Victoria; 2014
Huffington, A. The Sleep Revolution. Penguin Random House.
Walker, Professor M. Why We Sleep. Penguin House.
MJA, Australian Medical Association. Australasian Medical Publishing Company.
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