A natural remedy to safely take you into dreamland…
Struggling to get a good night’s sleep? You are not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 30% of us manage fewer than 6 hours of sleep per night (it should be between 7 and 9 hours). And with a staggering 50-70 million Americans struggling with sleep deprivation or sleep disorders, it’s not surprising that it’s being hyped as a major epidemic…
And not without consequences. Lack of sleep can have a big-time effect on your health. Aside from gaining weight, getting sick easily, aging before your time and memory loss, the longer-term effects to your health are way more serious - high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes, to name but a few.
In keeping with our pill popping culture, many of us turn to Ambien or some other pharmaceutical to help. But this can just make matters worse. Not only do they make you feel groggy and lightheaded, but can become less effective over time - which leads to more health problems. A vicious cycle with no end…
It’s no wonder that more and more people are turning to natural home remedies for help, amongst them those little miracle workers, essential oils. And when it comes to getting better sleep, lavender essential oil is deemed to be the queen of them all.
Here’s all the inside info on why and how lavender can help you catch up on your zzz’s so you can toss those pills for good…
HOW LAVENDER CAN HELP YOU SLEEP BETTER
There’s a reason why people have been using lavender for centuries as a cure-all for their sleep problems. But it’s only recently that science has proven why…
There are a number of studies that suggest lavender has powerful snooze inducing properties. Not only can it improve the quality of your sleep (including those with insomnia), but also how long you sleep, so making you fresher and more alert during the day. Basically, lavender works by calming the central nervous system and promoting slow-wave sleep, so helping you sleep longer and better.
So while lavender might seem like something that just smells nice, it can pack a pretty powerful (and well researched) punch when it comes to sleep. The results are compelling - lavender works…
LAVENDER IMPROVES THE QUALITY OF YOUR SLEEP
Some of us may think that just lying awake staring at the ceiling qualifies as a sleep problem. But maybe you’re sleeping through the night but still waking up tired? That’s because there are many different stages of sleep - and your body needs all of them.
As we drift off, we spend some time in light sleep - where we’re most likely to be disturbed or woken. Next, our bodies need deep sleep (AKA slow-wave sleep) because that’s when we repair, recharge, heal and detox (we want more of this). Finally, we have REM sleep where we dream, and which plays a role in learning, memories and mood (this is when the brain is very active).
In an in-depth sleep cycle study of young men and women, it was found that inhaling lavender before bed increased deep sleep and reduced REM sleep. Most importantly, everyone slept more soundly and woke up feeling more energetic and refreshed, all because they had more deep sleep.
After sleeping in a room diffused with lavender, participants on another study ranked the quality of their sleep 20% higher than when sleeping in a neutral environment. 20% better is quite impressive. Makes you think - doesn’t it?
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LAVENDER ENHANCES SLEEP AT ALL AGES
Sure - the sceptics amongst us may scoff. What about when we get older, when we tend to sleep less?
Lavender helps here too. One study into the sleep quality of elderly patients showed that lavender help improve the quality of their sleep - less delays in falling sleep, longer sleep duration, fewer sleep disorders, less need for sleep medications, and better daily functioning. The quality of their daily lives greatly improved…
And it even helps babies. A study found that when infants were bathed in lavender bath oil, their (and their mothers) whole night time routine was more relaxed. They looked at their moms more, spent less time crying post-bath and before bedtime - and more time in deep sleep. Their moms were also more relaxed and smiled more…
Another study found that after inhaling lavender nightly, 100% of the women who had recently given birth found a significant improvement in their sleep quality. A total life saviour for new moms - who need it so much more than anyone else.
And lavender has even been found to help with mild insomnia amongst college students…
LAVENDER EASES STRESS AND ANXIETY
We’ve all been there. When you’re desperately trying to fall asleep but your mind is running amok at a hundred miles an hour. From total work overload, the kid’s hectic schedules, to everyday family crises, stress can wreak havoc with your sleep. And even worse, lack of sleep can amp up your stress, too.
Enter the queen of calm, lavender. A Thai study showed that it can decrease heart rate, reduce blood pressure and regulate breathing. The research revealed that lavender may be able to alter brain waves and reduce stress, putting you into a calm and more relaxed state.
Another study even found that taking lavender orally can be just as effective as a prescribed anti-anxiety medication. When you find out that a natural remedy can work just as well as modern medicine, but without the side effects, it’s quite difficult to ignore - isn’t it?
Did You Know Lavender Is Proven to Reduce Anxiety - Quickly and Safely? - Read More
HOW TO USE LAVENDER ESSENTIAL OIL TO IMPROVE YOUR SLEEP
FIRST, FIND THE BEST LAVENDER ESSENTIAL OIL
Have you ever heard someone say they’ve tried lavender but it didn’t do a thing for them? It was probably the lavender oil that they were using.
The fact is that there are several types of lavender. And some lavenders, like ‘Lavandula Latifolia’, can actually make you feel more energizied. So, if you want to calm your mind and grab some decent shut-eye, check the bottle for ‘Lavandula Angustifolia’ which is the best one for sleep (amongst many other things).
And always opt for high quality essential oils from reputable brands to make sure they’re 100% pure, natural and undiluted. It goes without saying that it must also be labelled an ‘essential oil’, and not just an ‘oil’.
USING LAVENDER OIL TO SLEEP BETTER
You have two choices – either apply it topically on your skin, or inhale it to experience the full aromatic benefits. Pick two, three or more ways to help you create your perfect sleep sanctuary…
Topically on the skin: Essential oils can be very effective when applied to the skin. In fact, they start entering the bloodstream within seconds and take just 20 minutes to permeate the whole body.
One cautionary note. Lavender is one of the gentlest essential oils so can be used directly on the skin (except for babies under 6 months). However, if you’re prone to sensitivity, do a quick check on the inside of your upper arm beforehand. If there is a reaction, just dilute the essential oil in a carrier oil like sweet almond, jojoba or grape seed oil.
Here’s some ideas as to where and how to apply lavender oil for sleep…
Dab a drop or two of essential oil on your temples, behind your ears, on pulse points like the wrists and at the base of the throat, or on the back of your neck before bedtime.
And if showers are your thing, you can also get the same results with a lavender infused shower gel.
Coax your partner into giving you a relaxing rub down with some lavender massage oil. Or DIY your arms, legs, hands and feet.
Create a handy spray by adding drops to a small spray bottle, with or without water, and spritzing your skin. Or opt for a convenient lavender essential oil spray.
Inhale the aroma: Inhaling is by far the easiest way to get the full benefits immediately. And in the case of essential oils, immediate truly means within seconds. When you sniff lavender, millions of smell receptors ping your olfactory bulbs, instantly setting off a chain reaction in the brain, reducing blood pressure and calming your nerves.
You can go for easy and simply take a few deep sniffs direct out of the bottle. Or dab a little on the top lip right under your nose.
Place a few drops on your hands, rub them together, cup your palms over your nose and take nice long deep breaths of the aroma.
Use a cold diffuser (heat can reduce the efficacy of the oil). Add a few drops of lavender essential oil and diffuse the aroma for an hour before going to bed.
Spritz your pillow cases with a lavender linen spray. Or sprinkle a few drops of essential oil on a cotton ball or tissue and tuck inside your pillowcase.
Build a pre-sleep calming routine into your evening. Relax your body and mind by draping a heated or chilled lavender neck pillow on your shoulders for about an hour before you retire.
Mix in a few drops of lavender oil into a basin of hot water, drape a towel over your head and inhale the steam for about 10 minutes. This can help relieve sleep apnea and nasal congestion that may be affecting the quality of your shut-eye.
Before you slip into dreamland, slip on a lavender sleep mask to block out all light while reaping the benefits of the aroma.
And for the final touch to your lavender sanctuary, fill a pretty vase with dried lavender flowers and place next to your bed.
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USING LAVENDER OIL FOR YOUR BABY, TODDLER OR CHILD
Being a new mom can be hard. And even more so if your child sleeps fitfully and wakes up three or four times a night. Enter one sleep deprived mom and one crying, fussing child the next morning.
The good news is that lavender essential oil can help not only mom, but also baby, toddler and child, sleep better. And as it is one the of the gentlest oils around, lavender is a perfect starting point for young skin. You can even put your child to sleep with a fluffy, heatable and very huggable lavender infused lamb to keep them comforted and calm at night.
But there are a few rules. First off, essential oils should not be used before 6 months old. And as children’s skin is a lot more sensitive, your essential oil has to be diluted in a carrier oil before use.
Regrettably, not much research has been done on the best carrier oils for children’s skin, so either spot check a dime size (or smaller) quantity on the inside of the inner arm - and wait 24 hours. Or use an unscented baby oil specially formulated for sensitive skin.
Some guidelines on essential oil dilution ratios for babies, toddlers and older children:
Children 6 months to 2 years: 1 drop of essential per 1 tablespoon of carrier oil
Children 2 years to 6 years: 1 drop of essential oil per 2 teaspoons of carrier oil
Children 6 years to 12 years: 1 drop of essential oil per 1½ teaspoons of carrier oil
Children: 12 years+: 1 drop of essential oil per 1 teaspoon of carrier oil
It goes without saying that you need to ensure you are using the best quality lavender essential oil that is 100% pure, natural and undiluted for your child’s skin. And check in with your paediatrician before you start. No need to risk an unwanted outcome…
So, when sleep is being elusive, and you don’t want to pop a pill, give lavender essential oil a try. The research supporting lavender for better sleep is powerful and persuasive…
Create a little lavender sanctuary in your bedroom to surround yourself with the scent of calm. And once you are lying in bed, take long deep breaths as you drift off to sleep. Hello dreamland…
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Please check with your doctor before using essential oils to treat any medical concerns, particularly if you are treating a baby or a child.
There's a difference between lavender essential oil or lavender oil, which is simply a perfume. If a label does not clearly state that it is an 'essential oil,' then it is not a pure oil and should not be used as suggested.