As published on Apartment Therapy by Kristen Garaffo. See the original article here.
One healthy habit that sometimes gets pushed to the side in favor of, say, a healthier diet or daily exercise, is prioritizing rest and a good night’s sleep. The benefits of sleep are vast, from boosting your immune system, to reducing stress, to improving your mood. But for so many, getting in at least eight hours of sleep can be challenging. According to the CDC, almost 32 percent of Americans over the age of 18 are getting insufficient sleep, and that’s a lot of tired people.
Perhaps the most common oil associated with sleep is lavender. “Lavender helps with anxiety, stress, and it calms the nervous system down,” Gee says. This versatile oil helps create a peaceful environment, and can be found in most oil blends for sleep and relaxation. Before bed, apply a roll-on to pulse points like your wrists and temples, or spritz your pillow by combining a mixture of lavender and distilled water into a spray bottle. Just be sure to dilute the oils properly! Gee recommends just five to six drops of essential oil to one ounce of carrier oil like jojoba or coconut oil for a homemade roll-on, or 10 to 12 drops for a homemade pillow spray.
Gee suggests not only breathing in lavender’s sweet and floral scent right before bed, but throughout the day as well, to promote restful sleep. “Breathe it in throughout the day to keep your nervous system calmer,” she says, “so by the time you’re ready for bed, it will work even better.” Having an aromatherapy inhaler on you is a great way to stay calm throughout the day — simply fill the inhaler with your choice of oil and hold it in front of your nose to inhale the aroma.
Orange and Lemon
Citrus oils are uplifting, and while grapefruit essential oil can keep you awake and alert, for some, orange and lemon can help de-stress. “Orange creates a space of peacefulness and it’s really good for alleviating anger, anxiety and depression, and lemon is very similar,” Gee explains. She’s created her own sleep essential oil roll-on and blend that is a mixture of lemon, lavender, and marjoram — perfect for winding down right before bed.
Gee also points out that essential oils and their aromas, much like regular perfume, are personal to the individual. Trying them out is the best way to see what oils work for you, and which ones don’t. “Orange and lemon can de-stress one person and create anxiety in another. You have to experiment and figure it out for yourself,” she said.
An oil that I personally had never heard of before Gee’s suggestion was rose geranium — a type of geranium plant with leaves that smell like roses. The oil has a soft, floral scent that promotes restful sleep by lowering your heart rate and creating a calming effect. One of Gee’s favorite ways to unwind with this oil is in the bath. “You’ll come out with your skin feeling like silk, but you also come out feeling like you’re melting,” Gee shares with a grin. She uses a rose geranium body oil that doubles as a bath oil — you simply put a little in the tub as you’re drawing a bath and enjoy.
For those of us without tubs, or for anyone who prefers a shower, you can also use a shower bomb instead — which is similar to a bath bomb. Place one in your shower to create a steamy, spa-like experience, as the bomb will fill your shower with scent. If you’d like to get the most bang for your buck, Gee opts for placing them on a shelf instead of on the floor. “If you put them on the floor, they’ll dissolve really quickly,” she shared. “Put a shower bomb tablet on a shelf instead, that way you’ll get three or four sessions out of it.”
Jasmine is known as a natural sleep remedy and jasmine essential oil can help you get some very deep and restful sleep. “Not everyone can handle the scent, but it’s a serious promoter of sleep,” Gee says. “It cuts down restlessness, and it’s more effective than lavender in my experience.”
You can, of course diffuse, use a roll-on, add the oil to a bath or shower, or one final way to include essential oil in your bedtime routine is by adding it to lotion. Keeping an overnight hand cream on your nightstand and moisturizing your hands, especially with winter on the way, is a great final step to do before settling into sleep. Try adding a drop of oil to your favorite hand cream, and cup your hands in front of your face to breathe the aroma in.
Kristen is a Washington, D.C.-based freelance writer and homebody. She specializes in home and lifestyle content, and loves helping others live their best lives at home and beyond. Romanticizing her life since 1987, you can probably find her sipping on iced coffee, crushing a Crossfit workout, designing her next dream space, or blasting Taylor Swift.