Drift off to dreamland with some help from these relaxing botanicals.

Quality sleep is something we all strive to get every night. Apart from helping us fully function the next day, sleeping soundly comes with a bunch of benefits, such as improvement in mood and overall health. But life happens and getting a full eight hours of sleep can be challenging. One way to help ease our minds as we drift off to dreamland? Using essential oils. To understand exactly how these botanicals can help us rest better, we asked certified aromatherapist and founder of Airmid Holistic Melissa Murray to break down everything we need to know.

lavender spray in transparent glass bottle on linen sheet
Credit: Mila Naumova / Getty Images

Essential oils impact the emotional center of your brain.

When you inhale essential oils, their concentrate chemical components head to your limbic system, the emotional center of your brain, via the olfactory nerves, says Murray. The limbic system also plays a role in controlling some unconscious bodily functions, such as breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure. So, when you inhale an essential oil, it can trigger certain emotions and slow those functions, making it easier to fall asleep.

Lavender, Clary sage, Roman chamomile, and bergamot are some options that enhance sleep quality.

Oils that are high in linalool and linalyl acetate, two chemical components that are known to have sedative-like effects, are best for nighttime use, notes Murray. She suggests lavender, which is well-known for its soothing capabilities, and Clary sage, Roman chamomile, and bergamot for those who aren't the biggest fans of the former-most scent. She personally loves using a blend of lavender, Roman chamomile, and vetiver before bed. Her own topical aromatherapy blend, Good Night ($7, airmidholistics.com), combines all those soothing scents and is diluted in sunflower oil to help you sleep easier at night. If you're looking to make your own concoction, she recommends using Plant Therapy to source your botanicals. As for options to avoid? Stay away from invigorating essential oils, like lemon, lime, and peppermint. "Those bright, uplifting aromas are best used to decrease fatigue and increase focus," she says.

There are multiple ways to experience their benefits.

Murrays explains there are three general ways essential oils are used: inhalation, topical application, and ingestion. Consuming any essential oil, she says, is not recommended unless you're working closely with a clinical aromatherapist. Inhalation (via a spray or diffuser) or topical application are better choices, though the best method comes down to your personal preference. Murray suggests taking an aromatic bath mixed with essential oils and bath salts to relax both body and mind and body before bed. Spritzing a room or linen spray on your pillowcase and sheets is also helpful. Her favorite method, however, is applying oil onto the skin through a roller blend; she applies her botanicals to her wrists before drifting off to sleep.


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