Three Ways to Use Lavender Plants and Essential Oils as a Sleep Aid
Insomnia and My Discovery of Lavender
For many years I have suffered from insomnia. When I heard about the benefits of using the lavender plant (also known as Lavandula augustifolia) and essential oils, I began my own research—reading about the lavender plant and learning why it worked. While I do not have the means to extract the essential oils, I grow lavender around my house. I make sachets and lavender wands to keep inside my house, and I purchase lavender essential oil to use as part of my sleep therapy program.
The scent of lavender essential oil increases slow-wave sleep, which is the very deep sleep where the heartbeat slows and the muscles relax. It is during this phase of sleep that the brain is believed to regenerate and organize memory, as well.
An oil extraction machine is used to extract the oil from fresh flowers of the lavender plant. Upon extraction, the oil is used for medicinal purposes, which includes ailments such as insomnia, anxiety, depression, and fatigue.
Three Ways to Use Lavender as a Sleep Aid
Scientific research shows that the scent of lavender oil has a calming effect. In studies of adult males and females, people who sniffed lavender oil were able to fall asleep and stay asleep through the night. The goal is to diffuse or bring the scent of lavender into the air, enabling you to inhale the scent.
Here are three quick and easy ways to bring the scent of lavender into your environment for a good night’s sleep.
Lavender Oil and Steam is SoothingClick thumbnail to view full-size
1. Steam Diffusion
- Use a facial steamer. Plug in the steamer and wait for the steamer to produce steam. Place one or two drops of essential lavender oil into the steaming water. Or,
- Stove top. Boil two cups of water in a pot on the stove. Turn off the heat. Place two drops of oil into the hot water if you will be standing over the hot water to inhale the scent. Place more drops of oil into the hot water if you want the scent to fill the room with the lavender scent. The actual number of drops depend on the size of the room. Be careful. Do not lean over the steamed water if you have placed more than three drops of oil into the water.
In either diffusion method you use, the lavender scent will fill the air. Inhale the scent for a minimum of two minutes. Then, go to bed to experience a restful night of slumber.
Place a Lavender Scented Tissue Under Your Pillow
2. Tissue Diffusion
Place two to three drops of lavender essential oil onto tissue paper and place the tissue paper in your room. Even better, place one to two drops of oil onto tissue paper and then place the tissue paper under your pillow case. If you just want to lay down and go to sleep, this is the quickest way to use lavender essential oil as a sleep aid.
Use a Lavender Wand as a Sleep Aid
3. Lavender Wand
Place a lavender wand on your night stand. Lavender wands are easy to make. I make several wands and place them in a vase on my night stand. Lavender wands can also be placed under your pillow case. One of my favorite things about lavender wands is that they can be used like sachets and placed in your pajama drawer so that when you remove your pajamas to wear, the scent is already on your pajamas, helping you fall asleep from the relaxing aroma of lavender.
Since I grow lavender, I make lavender wands to use and to give as gifts. Learn how to make your own lavender wand in my article titled: How to Make a Lavender Wand.
Scientific Research Shows the Benefits of Lavender Essential Oil
During the Middle Ages, lavender essential oil was used as an aphrodisiac. Bed pillows were stuffed with lavender to induce sleep.
John Parkinson, a 17th-century London apothecary, wrote that lavender is “especially good for all griefs and pains of the head and brain.”
Research shows that the scent of lavender eases anxiety and insomnia. Britain’s University of Southhampton conducted a four-week study of ten adults (5 males and 5 females) and found evidence that the scent of lavender improved the condition of those suffering from insomnia.
My Favorite Source for Lavender Essential Oils
I have found the best, reliable essential lavender oil from an online source called Puritan Pride. I have been using this company since 1973, before their name changed from Nutrition Headquarters. I have no affiliation with Puritan Pride, however, I highly recommend them for quality products with competitive prices. Search Google for Puritan Pride and find great health related products. By the way, their service is excellent.
Lavender Plants and Essential Lavender Oil
If you do not have access to fresh lavender plants, purchase pure lavender essential oil. You can find it at various health related stores or online for about $8.00 to $14.00, depending on the size of the bottle you buy.
Special Cautions About Essential Oils
- Essential oils are toxic if taken orally. Do not ingest essential oils.
- More is not better. One or two drops are enough to serve as a sleep aid. Three drops should be considered the maximum dosage for any adult to inhale directly.
- When handling essential oils, be careful. Pure scented oils can cause skin irritation.
- As with any plant based product, some individuals may be allergic to or develop allergic reactions. Reactions to be aware of are nausea, vomiting, headache, and chills after inhaling or absorbing essential oils through the skin.
I am an ordinary person who suffers from mild and occasional insomnia. I am not a medical professional, and I make no absolute claims whatsoever. The suggestions mentioned here are based upon my personal experience and information gleaned from studies reported in medical journals. I advise anyone considering the use of lavender essential oil to consult with your medical professional prior to using this product in any way, shape, or form.
PennState Hershey: Milton S. Hershey Medical Center
Alan Hirsch, MD neurological director: The Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation, Chicago, Illinois.
AP News Archive: Sniffing Lavender Helps Sleep, Study Suggests
University of Southhampton, The Journal of Alternative and complementary Medicine: A Single-Blinded, Randomized Pilot Study Evaluating the Aroma of Lavandula augustifolia as a Treatment for Mild Insomnia
© 2013 Marlene Bertrand