If your beauty sleep is in need of a serious boost, we've got just the remedy: essential oils. Sure, they smell amazing, but their benefits go beyond their scents. These incredible concoctions provide an all-natural alternative to the average sleep supplement. Not only do essential oils with a sedative effect promote sleep, but they can also diminish anxiety, lower blood pressure, and relieve stress that builds up throughout the day. Inhale from a diffuser or cotton ball, or apply them in a variety of ways: mixed in a cream, or shaken up with a base oil and spritzed on. Before we begin, a quick word to the wise: Essential oils shouldn't be applied directly without being diluted first. They're highly concentrated—which is part of the reason they work so effectively. Keep reading for six of the best essential oils for sleep and get ready to catch some z's.
Springing from the branches of the cananga tree, native to Indonesia, ylang-ylang flowers produce an oil that is effective in reducing hypertension because of its sedative effects. Not only can it help you fall asleep faster, but a little aromatherapy with this oil can also alleviate stress and anxiety. On top of that, ylang-ylang also has a gorgeous scent, a light floral aroma that works wonderfully as a perfume or natural air freshener. Ylang-ylang shouldn't be applied directly to the skin, but it can be mixed with a base oil, like sweet almond or coconut oil, or even a moisturizing cream for a sweetly scented lotion.
Who knew the oil from these little pink blooms would make such an effective sleep inducer? Valerian may not have the same reputation as chamomile or lavender when it comes to promoting sleep, but it's actually been used to ease insomnia since the 17th century. Utilizing valerian can help you not only fall asleep faster but may actually improve the quality of your sleep. Deeper rest means a satisfying slumber that leaves you energized in the morning.
Chamomile is one of the best known natural sedatives, which in turn, makes it one of the most brilliant essential oils for sleep. Whether it's being steeped to make tea or extracted in the form of an oil, chamomile's use as a sedative has been documented for centuries and is one of the most popular ways to fight off insomnia. The plant's potency isn't mere hearsay, however. Studies have shown chamomile's effectiveness in relieving stress and anxiety. Get your dose of aromatherapy by sprinkling a drop or two into steaming water (with eyes tightly shut) and take 10 deep breaths. You'll be drifting off into your dreams in no time.
Neroli is an often overlooked essential oil for sleep, but we're looking to change that. The oil is extracted from the blossom of a bitter orange tree, and its spicy, citric scent makes it a popular ingredient in perfumes. Neroli produces a calming effect, particularly when combined with lavender oil and chamomile. It's also effective on its own in reducing stress and blood pressure levels, particularly in women.
One of the most grounding essential oils for sleep, cedarwood has a comforting, woodsy scent that is perfect in a diffuser before bedtime to help you drift off. Cedarwood works as a sedative. It may also alleviate hypertension and anxiety.
Of course, no list of the best essential oils for sleep would be complete without lavender oil, one of the most widely reported natural sources for inducing a peaceful slumber. Lavender oil is safe to apply directly to the skin, but test a small amount on your hand first before applying in larger amounts. Dab a little on pulse points before bed or rub a bit between your palms and inhale with a few deep breaths. Dilute seven drops in a teaspoon of base oil and add the blend to a bath for another great way to unwind after a long day.
Tan LT, Lee LH, Yin WF, et al. Traditional uses, phytochemistry, and bioactivities of cananga odorata (ylang-ylang). Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:896314. doi:10.1155/2015/896314
National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Valerian fact sheet for health professionals. Updated March 15, 2013.
Yeung KS, Hernandez M, Mao JJ, Haviland I, Gubili J. Herbal medicine for depression and anxiety: a systematic review with assessment of potential psycho-oncologic relevance. Phytother Res. 2018;32(5):865-891. doi:10.1002/ptr.6033
Mannucci C, Calapai F, Cardia L, et al. Clinical pharmacology of citrus aurantium and citrus sinensis for the treatment of anxiety. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2018;2018:3624094. doi:10.1155/2018/3624094
Takeda A, Watanuki E, Koyama S. Effects of inhalation aromatherapy on symptoms of sleep disturbance in the elderly with dementia. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2017;2017:1902807. doi:10.1155/2017/1902807
Koulivand PH, Khaleghi Ghadiri M, Gorji A. Lavender and the nervous system. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:681304. doi:10.1155/2013/681304