7 Best Essential Oils for Sleep
It’s not uncommon for individuals to struggle with sleep issues. In fact, 50-70 million Americans are estimated to have sleep-related problems.1 This is especially significant considering the fact that sleep is extremely vital to our overall health.
Sleep affects health
When we sleep, there is a considerable amount that is happening within our bodies. Sleep affects nearly every part of the body, contributing not just to our physical health, but also impacting our mental health as well.2 While we sleep, our bodies go through a natural balancing and regenerating process, which is crucial for maintaining good health.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults need an average of 7-9 hours of sleep a night, depending on age and personal needs.3 Some individuals may need more sleep, while others can still thrive on less. The amount of sleep needed for each person is completely dependent upon each individual’s needs and overall health. Unfortunately, many of us are just not getting enough sleep. While this is bound to happen occasionally, it’s not healthy if it becomes the norm.
Things that can hinder sleep
There are many things that can hinder sleep. If you suspect that you have an underlying sleep disorder, I highly recommend you see a trusted healthcare provider to help you diagnose the issue. However, many individuals have sleep issues that are not linked to a sleep disorder. In fact, many common sleep problems can be attributed to one of the following reasons:
- Diet & nutrition
- Overall health
- Sleeping environment
How to encourage better sleep
The good news is that there are many things you can do to sleep better. Many of these things are simple to do, and you can begin implementing them immediately. Some ways to encourage better sleep include:
- Exercise regularly
- Create a bedtime routine
- Eliminate screens/technology at least an hour before bed
- Eliminate sugar and caffeine several hours before bedtime
- Create a sleep environment that is pleasant and clutter-free
- Make sure the bedroom temperature is conducive to sleeping
- Use a mattress and pillows that are comfortable
Try these essential oils for sleep
While all of the things listed above should be considered when trying to achieve quality sleep, this list is not all-inclusive. Another great option would be to consider using essential oils for sleep. In fact, essential oils can be very beneficial in helping you get a good night’s rest, and it’s extremely simple to start incorporating them into your bedtime routine. Additionally, many of the essential oils that are beneficial for sleep are also great for stress and anxiety. Plus, several of the essential oils used for sleep issues are considered to be some of the gentlest essential oils, making many of them safe to use even around children.
Let’s take a look at 7 of the best essential oils for sleep that can help you nod off quickly and wake up feeling refreshed in the morning.
Not only is lavender beneficial in reducing stress and anxiety, but it’s also helpful for sleep issues as well. As a stress reliever, it can help promote relaxation before sleep, thus enabling you to fall asleep more quickly. Additionally, studies show that lavender can be beneficial for specific sleep issues, such as insomnia.4 It is a personal favorite and I include it in all my sleep blends.
Chamomile has long been used as a natural alternative for calming the nerves and promoting relaxation. It also happens to be an effective sedative. Even though chamomile is gentle enough to use even around children, its effectiveness shouldn’t be underestimated. It’s an excellent option to consider when trying to enjoy a better night’s rest. In fact, a 2006 study found that participants who inhaled Roman chamomile essential oil experienced a significant change in alertness and calmness.5 Additionally, it has a wonderfully fruity smell that is delightful on its own, but it also pairs very well with other essential oils.
Although it is true that many citrus essential oils are phototoxic, sweet orange is actually one of the few that is not.6 It is another gentle, yet effective essential oil that can be used by most individuals. Specifically, it has relaxing and sedative effects that make it a commonly used essential oil for promoting quality sleep. My personal preference is to combine it with other sleep-friendly essential oils since when combined with others, it adds a very pleasant sweet note to the overall blend.
Vetiver is another essential oil that is often used for its sleep-promoting benefits. With its deep, grounding aroma, it is a favorite among many essential oil users. Vetiver has a unique way of balancing out blends with its earthy, relaxing scent and is often used for its anxiety-relieving properties.7 This oil is a wonderful addition to any sleep-promoting blend.
Ylang ylang is an enticing essential oil with an exotic aroma. In fact, its strong floral scent can be overpowering if not used sparingly. Often, only a single drop is needed when blending it with other essential oils. When used in appropriate amounts, ylang ylang is a very relaxing oil that can be used to combat anxiety and calm the nerves, thereby promoting better sleep.8
It may be surprising to learn that cedarwood is another of the many essential oils used for sleep. This oil has effective calming and sedative properties, making it a commonly used oil for sleep issues. A 2003 study found that one of the main components of cedarwood oil had sedative effects when tested on rats.9 Cedarwood has a crisp, woody aroma that can help round out a sleep-promoting blend when combined with other essential oils.
Bergamot is a fantastic essential oil for sleep. Not only does it have stress-relieving and calming properties like the other essential oils mentioned, but it also has sedative properties as well.10 It’s a wonderful oil to use to get your mind and body ready to go to sleep. However, it should be noted that bergamot is phototoxic, so avoid using it on the skin prior to sunlight exposure. And if you do decide to use it topically, make sure to use it in the recommended 0.4% or less dilution.11
Essential oil blends for sleep
Essential oil blends for sleep can be a simple, yet very effective way to help you achieve a better night’s rest. Since essential oils work better when used together, I’ve created two recipes with the above-mentioned essential oils to help promote quality sleep. However, feel free to change things up a bit to suit your preferences. Please note that these two recipes are best used in a diffuser or in a homemade linen spray before bed.
Sleep Blend #1
Ylang ylang–1 drop
Sleep Blend #2
Sweet orange–3 drops
Ylang ylang–1 drop
For Diffusion: Use the above recipes or adjust accordingly based on your diffuser manufacturer’s instructions. Diffuse at night before bedtime.
For a linen spray: Double the above recipes (leave ylang ylang at one drop if you desire) and combine with 1 oz. of witch hazel and 1 oz. of distilled water. Pour into a 2 oz. spray bottle. Shake before each use and spray on your pillow and/or sheets right before bed.
It’s no secret that many Americans struggle with sleep issues. Often, we have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, causing us to not get the recommended amount each night. However, because sleep is crucial to our health, it’s important that we prioritize getting a good night’s rest.
While there are many ways we can encourage a better night’s rest, using essential oils for sleep is a simple and effective way to accomplish this. And to make things easier, you can get a ZYTO bioscan to discover which of these and other essential oils your body responded to the most strongly.
About Nicole Stine
Nicole Stine is a certified herbalist who has numerous aromatherapy and natural health certifications. She is passionate about using herbs and essential oils safely and thoroughly enjoys researching and writing about natural health, as well as creating her own formulations.
1. “The State of Sleep Health in America.” American Sleep Apnea Association. Sleephealth.org.
2. “The Benefits of Slumber.” National Institutes of Health. Newsinhealth.nih.gov.
3. “How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?” National Sleep Foundation. Sleepfoundation.org.
4. Koulivand, P.H., M.K. Ghadiri, & A. Gorji. “Lavender and the Nervous System.” Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (March, 2013).
5. Moss, M., R. Howarth, L. Wilkinson, & K. Wesnes. “Expectancy and the aroma of Roman chamomile influence mood and cognition in healthy volunteers.” International Journal of Aromatherapy 16, no. 2 (2006): 63-73.
6. “Phototoxicity and Essential Oils.” AromaWeb, LLC. Aromaweb.com.
7. Saiyudthong, S., S. Pongmayteegul, C.A. Marsden, & P. Phansuwan-Pujito. “Anxiety-like behaviour and c-fos expression in rats that inhaled vetiver essential oil.” Natural Product Research 29, no. 22 (2015): 2141-144.
8. Zhang, N., L. Zhang, L. Feng, & L. Yao. “Cananga odorata essential oil reverses the anxiety-induced by 1-(3-chlorophenyl) piperazine through regulating the MAPK pathway and serotonin system in mice.” Journal of Ethnopharmacology 219 (2018): 23-30.
9. Kagawa, D., H. Jokura, et al. “The sedative effects and mechanism of action of cedrol inhalation with behavioral pharmacological evaluation.” Planta Medica 69, no. 7 (2003): 637-41.
10. Worwood, Valerie Ann. The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy: Over 800 Natural, Nontoxic, and Fragrant Recipes to Create Health, Beauty, and Safe Home and Work Environments (Novato, CA: New World Library, 2016).
11. Tisserand, Robert, Rodney Young, and Elisabeth M. Williamson. Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Health Care Professionals (Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier, 2014).