One of these holistic therapies that may help you to not only stay asleep longer, but also to fall asleep faster is aromatherapy.
So what is aromatherapy? Aromatherapy is a complementary therapy that uses aromatic essential oils to improve your physical health, uplift your mood and release stress. These essential oils are extracts taken from different parts of plants, flowers, trees and herbs and they each have different therapeutic properties. Aromatic oils and herbs have been used by healers since antiquity, long before the development of modern medicine. There are now lots of different essential oils that have been discovered and extracted over the centuries, each of them with their own rich fragrance and healing properties. You can choose to use just one essential oil or create your own personal blend of different oils to help ease a specific ailment or condition.
The reasons why you cannot sleep are different for everybody, but some of the more common causes are stress, anxiety, an inability to stop worrying at bedtime, not getting enough exercise and taking too many stimulants such as coffee, alcohol and cigarettes. Aromatherapy and using essential oils cannot cure insomnia or its root causes, but it can help to relieve stress and induce relaxation which does lead to falling asleep more rapidly and enjoying a longer, better quality sleep when you do drop off. Essential oils work either by being absorbed by the skin or being inhaled into the lungs where the oil molecules can be absorbed into the bloodstream. These very tiny amounts oil that are absorbed by the body are then thought to beneficially interact with your body chemistry to help improve your physical symptoms, relax you and give your immune system a boost.
You can successfully use essential oils at home, but if you really want to beat your insomnia it would be a good investment of your time and money to book an appointment with a qualified aromatherapist. Ask around to see if any of your friends or family can recommend a therapist that they have used or check on the internet to find a local practitioner. By seeing a qualified aromatherapist you will know that the essential oil or blend of oils that they are using and have recommended for you are the best to help improve your own particular poor sleeping pattern. Holistic therapists look at the whole person, so they will discover any underlying conditions or reasons for your insomnia when they do their case study and create a set of treatments geared specifically to help you.
If you do want to try using essential oils at home, there are some ‘dos and don’ts’ to consider. Some essential oils are toxic, so should never be used by anyone who is not a fully trained professional. Also, although essential oils can be taken internally as a medicine, this must never be done except under the supervision of a qualified aromatherapist. It is also important that you do not use undiluted aromatherapy oils on your skin, as they can be very strong and cause irritation. They should be blended with carrier oil before you massage them onto your skin and always do a patch test if you are planning on using an essential oil that you have never used before. You must exercise extreme caution if you are planning to use aromatherapy oils on children, as they have very delicate skin. Get some expert advice before you do so and only use the mildest oils and make sure that they are very well diluted.
To banish your insomnia and get a good night’s rest, there are various ways in which you can use these aromatic oils.
1) Aromatherapy massage – massage on its own is very relaxing, but when an expert blend of relaxing, sedative essential oils is incorporated into a massage it can really help you to chill out and get a good night’s sleep. You can book an appointment with a qualified aromatherapy massage practitioner or, if you want to try it at home, you can put together your own chosen blends of oils and enlist the help of your partner or a friend. You can also massage parts of your body with aromatic oil yourself on a daily basis, especially after bathing and just before you plan to go to sleep.
2) Aromatic cotton wool balls – put a few drops of your favourite soothing essential oil onto a cotton wool ball and then place it close to your bed or under your pillow. This way you will be gaining the benefit of inhaling the relaxing fragrance all night as you sleep. In the winter months, you can also place one of these cotton wool balls on or near a radiator to amplify the wonderful scent.
3) Create a bed linen spray – this is similar to the cotton wool ball, but instead you lightly spray your bed linen with your favourite blend of relaxing aromatherapy oils. To make this you will need a clean spray bottle with a fine mist setting that has not been used before for hair or cleaning products. Put 3 oz of distilled water into the bottle, add 30-40 drops of your chosen essential oils and lightly spritz your pillows, sheets and duvet cover. Again you will be enjoying the relaxing fragrance all night long and much more likely to have a deep, restful sleep.
4) Adding relaxing essential oil to your bath or shower – if you have trouble dropping off to sleep, then you might find it very helpful to take a long, warm bath or shower about half an hour before bedtime. You can add a few drops of your chosen oils straight into the warm water to create an aromatic, soothing fragrance or you can add a blend in carrier oil. Just be careful if you use a carrier oil blend that you do not slip, as it will make the surface of your bath or shower tray slick.
5) Aromatherapy Oil Burner – if you want to relax and unwind in the evening, set up an aromatherapy burner so that you can enjoy the fragrance and receive the benefits of your favourite blend of oils. There are many different types of burners that you can choose from, but the simplest just require a tea light to be lit under a bowl containing some water that you then put a few drops of aromatherapy oil into. As the water and oil mixture heats up, wafts of relaxing scent infuse the room. As you are using an open flame and the liquid itself can get hot, ensure that you place the burner on a flat, sturdy surface and well out of the way of children or pets. Also, never go to sleep with the aromatherapy burner still lit in your bedroom as this is a fire hazard.
There are many different essential oils to choose from if you want to relax more and alleviate the stresses and strains of your day, so here is an overview of some of the more popular ones:
1) Lavender – lavender oil is perhaps the best known and most popular of the aromatherapy oils. Lavender oil has a wonderful fragrance which is very calming and relaxing. It is also a natural antiseptic and can be used to clean up cuts and grazes. It can also be used when you have a cold or flu and it helps prevent scarring of the skin. Well-diluted it is one of the oils that can be used on children when they get cuts and bruises and it can also be used to soothe fractious babies and toddlers.
2) Roman Chamomile – this oil is regarded as a natural sedative, so is a great one to use in your relaxing bath at bedtime. It helps you unwind when you are feeling stressed, tired and irritable. Roman chamomile can help if you suffer from PMS as it is very calming. It also has anti-inflammatory properties so it can be used to combat the pain of arthritis and help alleviate sprains and muscle aches.
3) Clary Sage – clary sage can help to boost your mood, making you feel more cheerful and optimistic. It also acts as a great relaxant, helping you to release stress and tension. It can also be used to alleviate period pains and menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes which, as they can disrupt your sleep, can also help you sleep better.
4) Bergamot – bergamot can be used if you cannot sleep because you are feeling depressed, tense or anxious. It also has antiseptic properties, so bergamot can be used to help alleviate the pain of cystitis and soothe skin complaints such as eczema and acne.
5) Melissa – melissa oil is calming, relaxing and has a natural sedative effect. It is a very good essential oil to use if you suffer from panic attacks as it can help to slow the heartbeat down and calm your breathing. It can also help you to overcome depression and stress.
6) Neroli – neroli is extracted from orange blossom and has a very calming, sweet fragrance. It is a great help if you are suffering from insomnia as it has a very powerful sedative effect and is very relaxing. Indeed it is so relaxing that it not a good idea to use neroli if you are intending to drive or perform any complex task.
As you can see, aromatherapy can really help you to relax and help you sleep. If it is a natural way to beat your insomnia that you are looking for either book an appointment with a qualified aromatherapist or mix your own blends at home. As you relax and enjoy the soothing, soporific fragrances of these wonderful essential oils, you will soon discover that you are finding it a lot easier to drop off to sleep and slumber peacefully throughout the night.
Disclaimer: Please be aware that any information given in this article should in no way be used to replace advice given to you by your medical practitioner. Anybody suffering from a medical condition or is at all concerned should always consult their doctor or a fully qualified aromatherapist before starting to use essential oils. Also a patch test should also be undertaken before you use any aromatherapy oil for the first time and essential oils are never to be taken internally.