Are you getting enough sleep?
When a doctor conducts a physical exam, one of his or her most frequently asked questions is, “Are you getting enough sleep?”. There is a good reason for this. A person who is not sleeping well may have some underlying condition that needs addressed, and will not thrive in the same way a well-rested person will.
Sleep is one of the most fundamental elements in leading a healthy lifestyle. It is also important to be able to relax and rest, at times, during waking hours. In today's fast paced world, this is easier said than done.
A 2012 study by the Cancer Centers, indicates that Americans spent more than $32 billion on sleep aids during that year alone. In July of 2013, another study reported that 8.6 million people use some type of medication for sleep. According to WebMD, almost half of the population of America has insomnia, at some point, and/or complains about poor sleep.
Sufficient sleep and rest helps heal damaged cells, boosts the immune system, helps recover the body and mind from the day's activities, and recharges the heart and cardiovascular system, preparing it for the next day.
Stress, and the inability to relax when necessary, can contribute negatively to high blood pressure and heart problems. Surprisingly, people who do not get enough sleep often crave less healthful types of foods as well, which can lead to obesity. Sleep deprivation can cause feelings of drowsiness, and can also cause irritability and depression.
Job performance can also suffer when one does not get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation can cause one to struggle to take in new information, can cause forgetfulness, or can make important decisions seem more difficult.
In an article about the benefits of sleep, which was featured in Neurology, a medical journal about how the brain works, Jeffrey M. Ellenbogen talks about the importance of sleep in healthy brain function and development. He notes that a lack of sleep can adversely effect one's ability to formulate meaningful new thoughts, and that it can also cause memory problems.
An official diagnosis for a sleep disorder is not necessary for one to recognize when he or she has trouble sleeping. Most people are all too familiar with the experience of tossing and turning, unable to fall asleep in the middle of the night.
Why can't I sleep?
Science suggests that the brain works by using two different systems. The first helps the person fall asleep easily, and aids that person in remaining asleep until it becomes necessary to awaken. The other system wakes the person normally, and keeps him or her awake so he or she can function throughout the day. This is the system that emits signals that place the brain into an alert, or more active state.
It is important that these two systems stay in sync, however, at times, this can be difficult to achieve. When the two systems are out of balance and no longer complement one another, the wake system remains in its active state long past the time when it should be sleeping. This is considered as an overactive state, which can result in insomnia.
Insomnia, or the inability to sleep, can impose the feeling that one is neither fully asleep, nor fully awake, and can adversely affect everything about one's lifestyle.
There are many different causes for sleep disturbances, from noise, to stress, to pain, and there are just as many remedies. Doctors regularly prescribe drugs to treat the symptoms of sleep disorders. However, these types of drugs can be fraught with side effects. Some are even addictive. The same can be said for the over-the-counter versions.
Essential Oils as a Safe, Natural Alternative Treatment
Essential oils can be used as a safe, natural alternative treatment for sleep difficulties. In a review of the effects of essential oils on sleep published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, the majority of studies suggested a positive effect of essential oils on sleep, with lavender being the most frequently studied essential oil.
Pros and Cons of Using Essential Oils for Relaxation and Sleep
Essential Oils that Induce Sleep in Children
There are a wide variety of oils that can be used to help promote relaxation and sleep. Whether or a the person using them is an adult or a child plays into which of the oils are better than the others to use for these purposes.
Adults with fully formed immune systems can safely use a wider variety of essential oils. The choices of oils used to safely calm or treat children who have difficulty sleeping is more limited. However, the oils that are safe for children tend to work well.
When using essential oils with children, it is important that they be kept stored out of their reach. All bottles should be kept tightly sealed, and the eyes, ears and nose should be avoided during application. Only use high quality oils with children.
Children have been known to respond favorably to the following oils:
How to use essential oils with children
It is a good idea to check with a pediatrician prior to using essential oils with children so that he or she can determine whether the child has an allergy or other conditions under which the oils should not be used.
In her article about using essential oils on children safely, aromatherapist Kristie Martin suggests that essential oils not be used on children until they are at least six months old. From ages 6 months to 2 years, child-safe oils may be diffused for specific purposes, and for brief periods of time. After age 2, essential oils may be applied topically, using carrier oils to create low dilution levels.
Lavender is known for properties that promote relaxation and sleep. A drop or two in the bath water of a child over the age of two can work wonders in helping calm the child, and is conducive to helping the child get a good night's sleep.
If the child is prone to having nightmares, Cedarwood can help eliminate them, and like lavender, can help produce a restful, relaxing state. Cedar Wood essential oil works well with children when it it diffused for short periods of time.
Most children respond well to the aroma of sweet orange, which has a comforting, relaxing effect. A few drops can be placed in the child's bath water, or diffused, or placed into a spritzer, and sprayed on the child's bed linen.
Your eating habits are essential to a good night sleep
Read our amazing article about "what you eat", and what it can do to your body below
YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT
Let's say you eat unbalanced, nutrient-poor and processed food; there is a significant chance that your energetic vibration will be drastically reduced. You may feel tired, sad, maybe even angry after a sleepless night.
You may react to situations differently than you usually do, and this will again be picked up by other human beings around you. We may underestimate how we portray ourselves to the world, and how people perceive us. Remember, it is all energy, and energy is vibration.
General Instructions for Using Essential Oils
The use of essential oils by adults for sleep and relaxation often utilizes the following methods:
Place a few drops of oil into hot bath water, keeping in mind that a little goes a long way. Soak in the bath, deeply inhaling the aroma of the oil for an extended period of time.
Diffusers come in many different variety, from electric types, to those that work with the heat from a candle, to nebulizers. The most commonly used diffusers utilize a mixture of oil and water, which is disbursed throughout the room in a fine particular mist.
Massage helps one enter the previously mentioned stage of mental restfulness. It can be administered professionally, by a specially trained massage therapist, or it can be administered less formally, by a friend or partner. If no one is available to give a massage, one can easily massage essential oils into the palms of the hands, or onto the bottoms of the feet.
Drops of essential oil can be released into water, until the desired strength is attained. The mixture can be placed inside a spritzer or spray bottle and dispensed into the air over one's bed, or directly onto the bed linens.
Storage of Essential Oils
Essential oil users tend to keep their favorite oils on hand throughout their houses, in their gym bags, in their cars and in other easy-to-access locations. However, many remain unaware of the proper way to protect the potency and longevity of the oils by storing them correctly. Here are a few tips that can help make your oils last longer while retaining their optimum strengths.
Keep Away From Heat
Exposing essential oils to heat or sunlight for extended periods of time, can change their chemical composition, and can also cause them to evaporate more quickly. They should not be stored in the car, close to windows, or next to any type of heater, stove or hot areas for prolonged periods of time.
If you use essential oils for cooking, mix the oil drops in with the drink or meal itself, rather than putting them directly into the hot pan or other source of heat.
It is best to store essential oils in amber colored glass bottles. This type of bottle helps to protect the oils from ultraviolet light rays, which could damage them, and lessen their potency. Plastic containers should be avoided, as certain types of essential oils, such as those with citrus bases, have the potential to melt some types of plastic.
Do not store essential oils in your handbag nor in plastic bags. Leading oil manufacturers and other manufacturing companies produce specially made gear to help you easily transport your essential oils. Not only do these storage containers help protect your oils from impacts that could shatter their glass bottles. They also help keep them organized and easily accessible.
Essential Oils for Adults With Sleep Difficulties
The list of essential oils that help with relaxation and sleep difficulties in adults contains a larger number of oils than the list used for children. It includes, but is not limited to, the following oils:
Chamomile Essential Oil
Chamomile essential oil comes in many different forms, but the type most often used for sleep disturbances is Roman Chamomile oil, also known as anthemis nobilis. Despite its name, it was first cultivated in Hungary. This oil has been found effective in fighting anxiety and depression, as well as in promoting deep and restful sleep. Anxiety can be both a cause and a symptom of sleep difficulties.
A 2006 case study published in the International Journal of Aromatherapy, explored the effects of Roman Chamomile essential oil on sleep and its effects on overall mood. The study suggested that participants who used Roman Chamomile essential oil, experienced a greater tendency toward drowsiness and calmness, which substantiates the oil's potential for improving sleep, and helping subjects enter a more restful state.
Chamomile essential oil is safe for adults to ingest in very small amounts. 1-2 drop added to herbal teas or other hot drinks can soothe the mind and body. It can also be diffused effectively, or applied to the bottoms of the feet at bedtime to help promote a restful night's sleep. Women who are pregnant should avoid using Roman Chamomile until after their pregnancies end.
Cistus Essential Oil
Cistas essential oil, also known as Rockrose, or Labdanum, is derived from the cistus ladanifer plant, which is part of the rose family. It was originally harvested in Spain, Greece and Italy. The oil is distilled using the steam distillation method.
Cistas essential oil is noted for being especially effective in the treatment of sleep difficulties. It is often used in meditation practices, and spiritual ceremonies, and mixes well with sandalwood or frankincense. The aroma associated with Cistus essential oil is said to evoke deep, peaceful emotional states, and to ease the process of meditation.
Cistus oil should not be used by women who are pregnant or nursing. When used for sleeping, a 1% dilution can be mixed with massage oils or any type of carrier oil and massaged on the soles of the feet or elsewhere on the bod, avoiding the genital area. Diffusing is the best way to take advantage of the oil's meditative qualities.
Clary Sage Essential Oil
Clary Sage, also known as Muscatel, is native to the northern Mediterranean Basin, Central Asia and Africa. Its essential oil is steam distilled from the leaves and buds of the salvia sclarea plant. The oil has long been used to treat depression, and is also effective in the treatment of anxiety. Clary Sage is classified as a nervine, and can help one attain deep sleep via its relaxing properties.
Clary Sage essential oil can be applied to the feet or pulse points before bedtime, or diffused or applied to one's pillow at night. 1-2 drops added over the heart and/or brow prior to meditation or periods of relaxation can help one more easily access a meditative state. If lack of sleep is caused by menstrual discomfort, clary sage can help. Simply rub from 3-5 drops on the abdomen. When combined with Roman Chamomile, its potency is increased.
What You Need to Know About Essential Oils
Essential Oils have been used for thousands of years in various cultures for medicinal and health purposes. Essential oil uses range from aromatherapy, household cleaning products, personal beauty care and natural medicine treatments.
The particles in essential oils come from distilling or extracting the different parts of plants, including the flowers, leaves, bark, roots, resin and peels. In ancient times, Jews and Egyptians made essential oils by soaking the plants in oil and then filtering the oil through a linen bag.
Essential oil benefits come from their antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Frankincense Essential Oil
Frankincense, also known as oliganum, comes from four different species of the Boswella Sacra or Boswellia carterii tree, each yielding slightly different properties. The tree can grow in dry, desolate conditions, and requires very little soil. Frankincense essential oil is known to have been traded in Somalia, on the Arabian peninsula and in North Africa for as many as 5,000 years. The oil is extracted from the plant using the steam/distillation method.
Frankincense essential oil is an effective sleep aid, because it is capable of inducing feelings of relaxation, mental peace and contentment. It is also said to awaken insight, making users more introspective, while lowering their stress and/or anger.
Frankincense oil for stress relief works best in a diffuser or a vaporizer. It can also be mixed with a carrier oil, and applied to the abdomen, or to the bottoms of the feet at bedtime for an effective sedative, or dropped into a hot bath for steam inhalation.
So long as large quantities of Frankincense essential oil are not ingested, the oil has no known harmful side effects.
Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender, also known as lavandula angustifolia, essential oil is one of the top essential oils used in the treatment of sleep disturbances, and for all other essential oil treatments. It was first cultivated in Bulgaria, and comes from the flowering tops of the lavandula plant. The oil is extracted using the water/steam distillation method. Noted for its distinctive, sweet aroma, the oil is acclaimed for its capacity to promote a relaxing atmosphere, which can also lead to a more restful night's sleep.
Lavender essential oil can be used in a hot bath, diffused, spritzed or sprinkled on bed linens. Another was to use Lavender essential oil, is to rub from 2-3 drops in the palms of the hands, then cup each hand, holding it to the nose and inhaling deeply, to draw the scene into the amygdala gand, which immediately works to calm the mind. It can also be rubbed on the soles of the feet, at the temples, (taking care to avoid the eyes), wrists or on any other pulse point.
Marjoram Essential Oil
Marjoram, also known as “Goose herb,” is an essential oil produced from the origanum majovana plant, and is related to oregano. It symbolizes happiness in some cultures, and is also known as “joy of the mountains,” or “wintersweet.” According to Greek mythology, Aphrodite, the goddess of love used it to create her famous love potions.
Marjoram produces an oil that is highly acclaimed for its calming properties, as well as the positive effects that it has on the nervous system. Classified as a nervine, Marjoram essential oil strengthens and tones the nervous system, and keeps users active while protecting them from a number of nervous disorders.
Marjoram essential oil can be mixed with carrier oil and applied to the back of the neck to decrease feelings of stress. If achy muscles are the reason for one's lack of sleep, a Marjoram essential oil massage can help relieve the pain, and also promote relaxation of the muscles. 1-2 drops of Marjoram essential oil can be added to hot water or herbal tea and ingested internally. It can be diffused, or massaged into the soles of the feet prior to bedtime, to help promote a good night's rest.
Spikenard Essential Oil
Spikenard, or nardostachys jatamansi essential oil hails from the same family as Valerian root. It comes from high elevations in the Himalayas of Nepal, India and in China, and is mentioned in the Bible.
Spikenard essential oil has been used for centuries for its healing and sedative properties, and to uplift the mood. It works as a natural coolant, and therefore, rids the mind of aggression and anger that can upset sleep. This oil is extra potent as a sleep aid when mixed with Sandalwood essential oil.
Spikenard can be added to a hot bath to unleash its calming effects. 2 drops inhaled, or 5 drops added to a diffuser can have a similar effect. 5 drops of Spikenard essential oil added to a carrier oil makes a relaxing massage compound that is known to relieve stress headaches and sore muscles, as it helps one overcome sleeping difficulties.
Valerian Essential Oil
Valerian, or valeriana officinalis, essential oil is another oil that is known for its calming properties. It is best known for its rather pungent, musky aroma, which is considered an acquired scent by some individuals. Valerian essential oil comes from a perennial flowering plant, and was first cultivated in Greece and Italy, but is currently cultivated in Europe and Asia.
One of the best uses for Valerian essential oil, is in the treatment of insomnia. It also helps improve the quality of sleep, evoking a state of deep sleep that results in feeling more rested and refreshed. Valerian contains active components that optimize the release of hormones, and that also balance the cycles of the body to stimulate this thorough level of sleep.
Women who are pregnant or nursing should avoid using Valerian essential oil. The best way to utilize Valerian essential oil's beneficial properties, is to diffuse as many as 30 drops of the oil up to 3 times daily. It should be kept away from the mucous membranes and eyes. Users who have medical conditions should consult with their physicians prior to using Valerian essential oil.
Try these six amazing Blends to better your Sleep and relaxation
Blend well together in a clean glass jar or bottle. Use in diffuser, inhale, topically, or in a warm bath mixed with epsom salt.
ALWAYS check if the essential oil you use can cause allergic reactions. Check with your doctor before use.
Just as it needs water, food and air, the human body needs sleep in order to function properly. Sleep is the time when the body heals itself and works to repair any chemical imbalances. During sleep, the brain also forms new connections, as it restores its capacity for memory retention. Without sufficient sleep, the systems in the brain, and in the rest of the body, cannot function as they should. Sleep deprivation can also significantly lower the quality of one's life, and can even lead to an earlier death.
People who struggle with being able to relax, or to fall asleep deeply, can be helped tremendously by using essential oils. However, one should never ignore the potential for any underlying causes of these conditions. If you suffer from insomnia or have difficulties relaxing, it can be a good idea to undergo a physical examination by a qualified physician to eliminate any unforeseen problems that go beyond normal standards.
Each person responds to essential oils differently from every other person. An oil that might remedy sleep disorders for one person, might be less effective for another. Therefore, it is suggested that the person using the oil try a variety of types, and under different circumstances, to help determine which one works best. For instance, some people respond better to essential oils that are applied directly to the skin, while others find that inhalation through a diffuser works best.
When purchasing essential oils for sleep disturbances, or for other reasons, it is important to look for pure oils that do not contain any synthetic ingredients that could result in their own chemical reactions in the body. It is important to purchase oils from a reputable vendor who understands the oil's applications, ingredients, properties and purposes, and that can explain these things, and answer any questions that you may have about them.
Cognitive benefits of sleep and their loss due to sleep deprivation
Jeffrey M. Ellenbogen
Neurology Apr 2005, 64 (7) E25-E27; DOI:10.1212/01.wnl.0000164850.68115.81
Lillehei Angela S. and Halcon Linda L.. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. June 2014, 20(6): 441-451. https://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2013.0311
Phytochemical Investigations on Boswella Species, Basar, S., Dissertation, Hamburg University (2005) www.chemie.uni-hamburg.de
10 Things You Need to Know About Essential Oils Before You Buy by Adrienne Urban