Using Lavender to relax, calm and induce a good nights sleep is not a new concept, just look at all the lavender infused eye masks, lavender pot pourri, lavender room sprays, etc. on sale. New evidence, however, suggests that inhalation of lavender essential oil may well be a way to restore balance and aid sleep.
Sleep problems are being assessed by researchers worldwide; it is that big of an issue. Every research hospital has a Sleep Lab. Lack of quality sleep is associated with numerous health concerns such as anxiety, depression and over the longer term, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, inflammation, obesity, impaired glucose tolerance and diabetes. No wonder the world is concerned.
However, there are things you can do to help yourself get a better nights sleep without resorting to medication, (which doesn’t always help anyway and can be highly addictive.) Essential oils, such as lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) and roman chamomile (Anthemis nobilis) which have soothing and calming properties, are traditionally used to alleviate anxiety and aid restful sleep. Many studies have shown that aromatherapy with essential oils, either diffused or sprayed onto bedclothes (pillow mist ), even massaged onto the skin or a few drops added to a bath, can help alleviate sleep problems.
What you need to know
» Lavender essential oil is known to have soothing and calming properties that can assist with anxiety and promote sleep.
» A recent small trial in college students compared a group which practiced good sleep hygiene with one which used a combination of lavender aromatherapy and sleep hygiene practices.
» Results showed that the combination was significantly more effective than sleep hygiene alone and effects persisted after the trial ended. The researchers speculate that lavender helps reset the sleep cycle.
For this small randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine , 79 students (aged 18-39, mostly women) with self-reported sleep issues, such as difficulty falling asleep, frequent awakenings during the night, or daytime sleepiness, were recruited from the University of Minnesota campus.
All of the participants received sleep ‘hygiene’ advice, such as:
- maintain a regular sleep schedule
- avoid fluid intake before bed and food, caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine late in the day
- create a good sleeping environment (e.g. wear ear plugs and a sleep mask, and avoid screens and texting) keep the bedroom as dark as possible
- create a relaxing bedtime routine, bath before bed, herbal tea, candles, music….whatever you like, just make it consistent
- keep up with school work
- exercise regularly
The participants were then divided into two groups; one simply got on with their sleep hygiene routine over a 5 night period while the other practiced good sleep hygiene but were additionaly given an aromatherapy patch infused with lavender oil to wear on their mid-upper chest for 5 nights. The patch had a skin-barrier backing to prevent skin absorption of the essential oil and a time-release function to ensure the lavender aroma was released steadily over 6-8 hours.
The researchers monitored sleep quality with a Fitbit® tracker (which measures movement during sleep – I love tracking mine with this feature,) and sleep diary, and on the 5th day of the trial, and two weeks later, participants were also quizzed on sleep quality and adherence to the sleep hygiene suggestions.
Both groups showed an improvement in sleep hygiene, but analysis showed that those in the lavender/sleep hygiene group had a clinically significant improvement in sleep quality, while there was no clinically significant change in sleep quality in the sleep hygiene-only group.
The lavender group had less daytime fatigue after 5 days and up to two weeks later and was more likely to wake refreshed at day 5.
Overall, the authors conclude that, in this study, lavender essential oil inhalation improved sleep quality, and that this beneficial effect extended beyond the end of the trial.
“The persistent effect of lavender on sleep quality at two-week follow-up suggests a re-balancing or long-acting effect on the sleep cycle, although the exact mechanism of action is unknown.”
They further state that this trial “supports the use of lavender and sleep hygiene as safe, accessible, and effective interventions for self-reported sleep issues in college students.”
My personal favourites to help me get a good nights sleep are:
- Put the devices on charge at least an hour before sleep time. No peeking!
- Make a cup of relaxing organic herbal tea
- Cleanse and moisturise my face applying the Beauty Sleep Concentrate last; the aroma is divine, it relaxes me straight away. (Plus, March 6-13th it is 25% off!) This is 10 minutes just for me.
- Last, but not least, read a little or listen to an audio book. Nothing too racy or scary. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings is an excellent choice!