Quality sleep still seems elusive for many people I speak with. We seem to be more wired for action than ever before. With never ending ‘to-do’ lists and with thoughts that bombard us incessantly (even more so at 3am!) it’s easy to understand why. And we are not the only ones that may find it difficult to drift off – our kids too may need some help to process the activities and emotions of the day and wind down for much needed sleep time. Not to mention those imaginary spiders and shadows in the dark that create anxious feelings for little ones.
I love essential oils because they just make life easier in so many different ways. Here are the essential oils that I’ve found work a treat to calm the nervous system and help support healthy sleep habits.
No surprise here! Lavender is a well known for its calming and relaxing properties. One of the best tests for how an essential oil is going to make you feel is to simply smell it. Your reaction is the best guide as to how your body will respond. Lavender is a such a popular oil because it is safe to use on all ages and stages of life.
Frankincense is my all time favourite oil. Its scent evokes feelings of protection and strength. It is perfect for balancing the emotions, calming the mind chatter and supporting the body’s natural response to healing. It calms the nervous system and promotes a deep sense of relaxation.
Cedarwood has a woody, earthy scent so it’s no surprise that it helps to ground and calm the mind. If the smell is too overpowering in a diffuser or rubbed on to the back of the neck pop a couple of drops on to the bottom of your feet. Cedarwood essential oil supports healthy function of the pineal gland which releases melatonin – the body’s natural sleepy hormones.
Vetiver essential oil is distinctively earthy – it is derived from the root of the plant and has a thick, rich texture. It is known as the oil of centering, helping bring one back down to earth and feel more rooted in life. It is deeply calming and blends beautifully with Lavender.
5. Roman Chamomile
Roman Chamomile has been used for centuries to calm children. Chamomile tea is a popular tea to drink just prior to bed to help calm and relax. It is gentle and safe to use and helps relieve anxious or irritable feelings.
HOW TO USE ESSENTIAL OILS TO SUPPORT HEALTHY SLEEP . . .
I love to put a couple of drops of essential oil into a carrier oil such as Jojoba or Coconut and then apply the oil to the back of my neck, bottoms of feet or inside of the wrists. Allow a few minutes for the essential oils to absorb. With the oil left over on my hands I cup them over my nose and inhale. This is immediately relaxing. If you are using the highest quality essential oils (which is actually imperative to receive the benefits) it is okay to apply the oil directly to the skin. * Of course, if your skin does react, cease using the oil.
You can simply put essential oils into the palms of your hands, rub them together, cup over your nose and take several deep breaths.
Another effective way to inhale the benefits of the oils is to create an essential oil mist. Alternatively, use our Combardis Peaceful Sleep Mist (with a blend of Lavender, Cedarwood, Patchouli and Vanilla). Close your eyes, take a deep breath and spray the mist over your face and body. You may also mist your pillow and sheets to create a beautiful soothing and relaxing space.
I also love to use a diffuser. This is a beautiful way to create a calm, relaxing bedroom space. Turn the diffuser on about 10 minutes before going into the bedroom for the ultimate effect! Using a diffuser allows you to create your own sleepy time blend.
Remember to use the oils that resonate with you. If you don’t like a particular scent it’s not going to help you relax or feel calm.
Here are a few tips that I’ve also found useful during periods of ‘light on’ sleep:
Yogic breathing – left nostril
Did you know that simply breathing through you left nostril (lightly closing the right with your finger) helps support relaxation?
Left nostril breathing activates the nerve ending in the left nostril which relates to calmness and relaxation. Right nostril breathing activates the nerve ending in the right nostril which relates to alertness and activity.
If you are having trouble getting off to sleep or back to sleep simply roll on to your right side to help activate the nerve ending in your left nostril.
Let the thoughts go …
When the thoughts that tend to keep us awake come … simply acknowledge them and let them pass [like clouds floating across the sky]. Become the silent observer of the thoughts without getting attached to them – and the dramas that often come with them! I understand this is a practice so it may take some time to lean into this.
If you really do need to get something on to paper, have a notebook beside your bed and get the thoughts down. This way your mind doesn’t have to keep repeating the thoughts to remember them. 🙂
Minimise screen time just before bed
In my experience I find that trying to sleep within about 30 minutes of being on a backlit screen is fraught with difficulty – adults and children alike! And it’s not just the screen itself, it’s the stimulating nature of texting and the mind’s response to what is happening on the screen. Our nervous system needs some wind down time before settling into sleep for the night.
Create a wind down ritual
Enjoying a bath with essential oils and magnesium salts is pure bliss for some. Even a foot bath with a few drops of essential oils and magnesium salts is extremely effective. Allow any tension to wash through the body and into the water. The oils and magnesium will absorb into your blood stream through your feet – bringing an instant sense of calm and relaxation. The kids love this little ritual also. Although it may sounds a little strange, it can be a really light hearted way to spend some time together in the evening and chat about the events of the day in a calm and engaging way – being completely present. Find a wind down ritual that works for you – whatever feels right for you will be the right thing to do.
There is so much more information available on this topic – I’d love to hear your thoughts. What works for you and what is not working for you?!
Wishing you peaceful sleep …