How to Use Aromatherapy to Sleep Better

Using Common Scents to Sleep-How Aromatherapy can Improve your Day

Generally speaking, during the night, there aren’t too many smells to contend with when your brain is trying to sleep, but during the day, the world is bustling around us, making sleep more elusive than ever.  Your family might be in the kitchen making pancakes and bacon, or they could be whipping up a batch of fresh cookies; your neighbor might have just cut the grass and the fresh scent drifts into your window.  These smells can hinder our ability to get sound sleep during the day, but the ideas on this page will have you sleeping like a baby!

Interesting fact: Scent receptors are 10,000 times more accurate than taste buds and experts believe our sense of smell is our most influential sense!

How Our Sense of Smell Works

The amygdala is an almond shaped structure in the frontal portion of the brain that stores information from memories and causes us to perceive emotions.  It is most known for your ability to feel fear, although as we learn more about the amygdala, we know that it is intimately related to the olfactory system (your sense of smell). If you have ever smelled something and are immediately transported back in time to your grandmother’s kitchen, or a childhood place, or even an unpleasant memory that suddenly seems crystal clear, you have just experienced your limbic system, specifically your amygdala in action.

In a study in Las Vegas, they released pleasurable scents into the casino through the vents and the amount of money people were gambling actually doubled!  Another article talks about how a movie theater was secretly putting buttery popcorn scents through  the air conditioning vents and the amount of popcorn people ate, even if it was stale almost tripled!

Certain smells will travel into your nose and your olfactory receptors and reach the amygdala through sensory transduction.  This causes our bodies to have various reactions to the smells.  Lucky for us, our olfactory system can also relay information to our brains that help us to stay calm and to sleep better if we use the right scents.

Smell your way to sleep

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Here are some things you can try before you even get into bed in the morning.
  • Taking a hot shower and using a lavender body wash or calming shower bomb can help you to relax as soon as you get home. Vicks has an amazing shower tablet from the makers of ZZZquil.

  • Fresh sheets or pillows with a pillow spray and a plant or two in your bedroom can also set the mood for a good day of rest.
  • The smell of roses has been proven to lower blood pressure and the number of respirations you take, which makes it easier to fall asleep. Ladies, this is a good time to hint at a reason for your significant other to buy you some flowers. Its for your health, right? (Geranium essential oils actually smell like roses and can help relieve stress.)
  • Jasmine is also a sweet-smelling plant that can be added to your bedroom décor.  It is used to reduce anxiety levels and increase sleep quality.
  • Aroma roll on sticks and old-fashioned candles can do the trick to drown out the outside scents that you don’t want to smell also. Click here for the roll on stick that was specifically recommended by a night shifter just like you!
  • Breathe right lavender nasal strips combine the scent of lavender with breathe right technology to relieve a stuffy nose and relax for better sleep

Aromatherapy

People have been using essential oils and herbal scents for thousands of years.  It has only recently become a billion-dollar business.  Essential oils are extracts made from plants that are steamed or pressed to expel their fragrance.  Research has proven that being exposed to a pleasant smell can actually cause you to have better dreams.

An essential oil diffuser can be easily purchased for a cheap price at Walmart or target or even shipped straight to your door from amazon.  If you don’t want the diffuser, many oils can be rubbed directly on the skin or dabbed on the neck or wrist.  The great thing about the oils is that you can use as little or as much as you want. Always start with a small amount for the rare occasion you might have a reaction to it.  Oils are generally safe, although some people may react differently.  Some oils come in packs or groups specific to your needs.  There are hundreds of different oils and diffusers for everything from an aching toe, to headaches, sinus infections and Alzheimer’s.  I am going to focus on the ones for sleep here though.

        • The most popular and probably widely used essential oil is Lavender. It has been proven to lower stress, anxiety and also pain and promote sleep by lowering your heart rate. A study at the University of Maryland found scientific evidence that lavender slows the activity of the nervous system and improves sleep quality by boosting the mood in people with sleep disorders, such as shift sleep disorder.
        • Chamomile, which is more widely known as a tea, can also be used as an essential oil and helps promote calm and relaxation. I personally prefer the essential oil over the tea so I’m not waking up to use the bathroom after I drink the tea.
        • Orange and lemon can also reduce anxiety. Bergamot is an oil made from an Italian orange peel that enhances relaxation and helps prevent illness. It can be used in a diffuser or dripped into a bowl of steaming water to reap the benefits.
        • Geranium is considered a natural antidepressant and the aroma has a relaxing effect to help you fall asleep more content
        • Clary sage is used as an antidepressant also for menopausal women and is very calming with an earthy scent
        • Sweet marjoram is a very pleasing scent and is ideal specifically for insomnia.
        • I’m not sure if you can find an essential oil for it, but go ahead and brew a pot of coffee in your room if you would like. Ironically studies from UCLA find that the scent of coffee has a calming effect and can actually help you sleep better.
        • Peppermint is known for its benefits for the GI tract, as well as pain. With its cool and refreshing scent, I have personal experience with seeing its benefits for sleep. In fact, when conducting a survey, I found multiple people on night shift that actually use peppermint for their sleep.

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Our List of Top Diffusers

Here are a list of some of the top sellers of diffusers at a reasonable price.

  1. This diffuser is perfect for those of you just starting out. It even comes with a sample pack of some of the best scents for sleep.  The essential oils are a quality blend and the lighting is a plus for the ambiance of the room as well


2. Second on the list is a smaller diffuser that is BPA free, has an automatic shut off switch and all of the benefits of the first diffuser, but a much cheaper price and a different style for you. The only drawback is that you will need to purchase the oils separately.  But at 14.99, it’s a steal!

If you know someone who might benefit from some essential oils, say a coworker, or a family member, or maybe a friend, this diffuser comes with a full set of essential oils and a rotating stand as well. Talk about fancy!

Conclusion and Disclaimer

Although aromatherapy and essential oils have massive benefits for most people, always be cautious about trying a new type of therapy for yourself. If you are on any medications or have any conditions, please ask your doctor before using any of these ideas.  Also, be careful of prolonged exposure more than an hour a day.  Most diffusers have automatic shut off switches that you can program for the time you want.  Pregnant women and children especially might be affected different by some of these scents.  Most important of all,

  • If you have any pets, please do the proper research and do NOT use anything that could be toxic to your pet. Many essential oils are extremely toxic to animals even in small doses.

Go Ahead! Try something new. It might have more benefits for you than are even written here. As always if you have any questions or feedback, write your comments below and let us know what works and doesn’t work for you.  Most of the products we have recommended have come directly from another night shifter who personally has used it and attested to its advantages.

2 Comments on “How to Use Aromatherapy to Sleep Better

  1. What an interesting website that so many can use! So many wonderful ideas and easy to access and try!
    The diffuser really works!
    Thank you for all of your hard work Sara !

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