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If you've tried just about everything to help you fall asleep with no luck, aromatherapy may help.
Taylor Freitas is a freelance writer and has contributed to publications including LA Weekly, Safety.com, and Hospitality Technology. She holds a B.A. in Print and Digital Journalism from the University of Southern California.
If you've ever had trouble falling asleep due to an injury, illness, stress or another reason, you're certainly not alone. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 70 million Americans experience chronic sleep problems.
While you could use a supplement or sleep aid to fall asleep, aromatherapy is also a more natural alternative. People have used this ancient practice for thousands of years to alleviate numerous conditions, including stress, anxiety, pain and sleeplessness. It involves using essential oils (extracted from plants like eucalyptus, lavender and peppermint) that are inhaled through the nose or applied to the skin.
Tips for nightly aromatherapy
Not only are there many different types of essential oils, but there are also several ways you can work with them to improve your sleep. Let's look at some of the most popular methods to use aromatherapy for sleep.
Choose the right essential oils
Essential oils serve different purposes, and there is a handful that can help promote better sleep. According to the American Sleep Association, some of the best options include lavender, chamomile, jasmine and sandalwood. Since essential oils are so potent, you'll also want a milder carrier oil (such as almond oil or coconut oil) to dilute the oils before applying them to your skin.
Rub a few drops on your chest, hands and neck
Once you've chosen the right essential oils, it's time to apply them to your body. First, dilute the oils by combining one teaspoon of carrier oil for every drop of essential oil. Then, making sure to avoid any areas with damaged or broken skin, add a few drops to your chest, hands or neck. Keep an eye on these areas after applying the oil to ensure no allergic reaction occurs.
Put drops of oil in a diffuser
Alternatively, if you'd rather not use the essential oils topically, you can inhale them through a diffuser. There are several different types of diffusers, including ultrasonic, burner and reed diffusers, but all of them work by taking the pure essential oils and dispersing them into the air for you to breathe in.
Another way to use aromatherapy for sleep is by applying a clay mask with essential oils. Several retailers sell facial mask products made with sleep-friendly essential oils, or you can find DIY recipes online.
Take an aromatic bath before bed
Soaking in the bath an hour or two before bed can help you unwind and prepare your body for sleep -- especially when you incorporate essential oils. To take an aromatic bath, combine a carrier oil with your preferred essential oil (lavender is a great pick), add it to the bathwater, and mix it all together. You can also buy pre-made essential oil bath salts or body washes.
Mix essential oils into your lotion
After -- or instead of -- your aromatic bath, try moisturizing your skin with an essential oil-infused lotion or body butter. Many of these products are available off the shelf, or you can create your own by infusing a few drops of essential oil into an unscented lotion or another moisturizer.
Spray essential oils on your pillow or mattress
If you're looking for a gentler way to incorporate aromatherapy into your bedtime routine, you can lightly spritz your pillow or mattress with an essential oil spray. You can buy premixed sprays or make your own by combining essential oils, distilled water and witch hazel.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.