Proper Sleep is Very Important
Insomnia is a common problem among a wide range of patients, including elderly and hospitalized patients. Essential oil of lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) has been shown in many studies to be effective in resolving insomnia. A review of a sampling of these studies indicates that in addition to promoting improved sleep, the use of lavender essential oil has also been shown to result in greater daytime alertness, calmness and less confusion and aggressiveness as well as decreased need for nighttime sedation. It is important to use the right kind of lavender for insomnia (Lavandula angustifolia, Lavandula vera, or Lavandula officinalis) as some species of lavender are stimulating and can aggravate insomnia (Lavandula latifolia and Lavandula stoechas). It is also important to limit the number of drops of lavender applied alone or as part of a blend to 4 drops per application as even the relaxing lavender oils become stimulating in higher doses.
Other essential oils that have been shown in clinical studies to effectively promote sleep include spikenard (Nardostachys jatamansi), Melissa (Melissa officinalis), bergamot (Citrus bergamia), European basil (Ocimum basilicum), Roman chamomile (Anthemis nobilis), sweet orange (Citrus sinensis), marjoram (Origanum majorana) and valerian (Valeriana officinalis). Of all the essential oils mentioned for promoting sleep, lavender has the greatest body of supportive evidence.
Essential oils can be used to promote sleep by diffusing 3 to 5 drops of a single oil or a blend of oils through a fan diffuser for one to two hours beginning 30 minutes prior to bedtime. If the patient wakes during the night, the procedure can be repeated. Alternatively, you may place 3 to 5 drops of essential oil on a cotton ball set on a dish or in a salt shaker near the bedside; or, you may use three to 5 drops essential oil diluted in 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil for a hand and/or foot massage at bedtime and repeated at 4 hour intervals if needed. When assisting elderly or debilitated patients, use the lower doses.
A suggested formula for improving sleep and decreasing nighttime agitation:
- Lavender essential oil – 70%
- Roman chamomile essential oil – 15%
- Marjoram essential oil – 5%
- Bergamot essential oil – 10%
This blend is effective for many patients in acute and long-term settings and is available as Good Sleep from Artisan Aromatics. This Aromatherapy Blend and other Sleep Blends are also available from Artisan Aromatics: Online Shop These sleep blends (and other blends too) may be purchased as pure essential oils to diffuse into the air or to mix with your own vegetable oils for topical application or as pre-mixed essential oils in the proper dilution of vegetable oil for topical application (pre-mixed oils for topical application are available in quantities of 2 ounces or greater).