Throughout history, lavender has been used for many different purposes. We read of the Egyptians using it for mummification and as a perfume. The Romans used it for bathing, cooking, and for scenting the air.
Today, one of its most popular uses is to help reduce anxiety and improve sleep. Other cultures throughout the world use it regularly for this purpose. For example, I recently traveled to Barcelona, Spain, and one of the free amenities in the room was a bottle of lavender spray meant to be used on your pillow right before you lay down to sleep.
Research continues to show how helpful lavender can be in aiding sleep. For example, in one study done at Britain’s University of Southampton, researchers tracked the sleep patterns of 10 adults. For one week, five of the participants slept in a room where lavender essential oil was diffused in the air throughout the night. The other five slept in a similar room where a placebo was diffused. After a week, the groups switched rooms. At the end of the study, the volunteers ranked the quality of their sleep 20% better on average when in the lavender-scented room.
In another study, psychologists at Wesleyan University asked 31 men and women to sniff lavender essential oil one night and then distilled water the next night. They sniffed each for four two-minute periods just before bedtime. The participants were then monitored with brain scans while they slept. The scan revealed that the nights they sniffed lavender they had increased slow-wave sleep, the deep, restorative slumber in which the heartbeat slows and muscles relax. They also woke up feeling much more energetic the next morning.
I’ve been using lavender essential oil every night before bed for quite a while now. I simply put a couple of drops on the bottom of my foot before I get into bed. You can also rub it on your neck, chest, and temples.
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Another option is to purchase an essential oil diffuser and diffuse several drops of lavender before you go to bed. Why is this a good option and what benefit will you see?
According to “The Smell Report” by the Social Issues Research Center, different scents stimulate cognitive recognition in the brain. The cognitive memory that is accessed is often highly personal, as a particular scent may have accompanied a meaningful moment. The power of smell has been recognized as the positive effects of aromatherapy become more recognized.
Diffusing lavender oil offers a natural and drug-free way to create a relaxing environment in the bedroom. Any time our kids get anxious at night or just need something to help them relax when they get in bed, we will either diffuse lavender essential in their room or place a few drops on their chest.
Incorporating lavender essential oil as a part of your bedtime routine is an easy way for you to relax and set the best environment for sleep. Meir Kryger, director of research and sleep education at Gaylord Sleep Medicine, stated that “linking the scent to a calming activity has a positive reinforcement aspect to it. The next time you do it, you will feel even more relaxed.”
Using Lavender essential oil has been one of the best simple changes I’ve made to create an environment more suitable for achieving great sleep. I included a link on the Resources page to the high quality lavender essential oil I use as well as a link to the diffuser.