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Essential Oils for Insomnia

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Good Sleep is So Crucial

Insomnia is a common problem in our society, with the world’s problems available at our fingertips. How may essential oils help?

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:

Picture of Joie Power, Ph.D.

Joie Power, Ph.D.

Dr. Power is a retired neuropsychologist with a Ph.D. from the University of Georgia. She was an Assistant Professor of Surgery/Neurosurgery at the Medical College of Georgia before entering private practice and has over 20 years of clinical experience in inpatient and outpatient settings. She is both a student and practitioner of alternative healing methods, including herbal studies, aromatherapy, and Chinese Medicine. Her training in the olfactory and limbic systems of the brain gives her a unique qualification for understanding the actions of essential oils and she is an internationally known writer and teacher in the field of aromatherapy. Her approach to aromatherapy weaves together her solid scientific training and strong clinical skills with a holistic philosophy that honors body, mind and spirit. Read Full Bio
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