What are essential oils?Essential oils are the naturally occurring volatile compounds that exist in plants and protect them in their natural environment. You may think you’ve never come across them, but many common household products got their start with essential oil recipes—Coca-Cola and Vick’s VapoRub are just two examples. Using processes like steam distillation or cold-pressing (in the case of citrus fruits), we harness these compounds from the roots, leaves, stems, bark, fruit, flowers, and rinds of plants and pass their protective powers along.
How can essential oils help me sleep better?Scent memory is such a powerful force. Everyone can think of a smell that, once smelled, instantly transports them to a different time and place. When you consistently use the same essential oils to create a safe and calm sleeping environment, this theory goes, anytime you smell that blend, you’ll float away to that dreamy place you manifested. Any parent, doctor, or sleep expert out there can tell you about the importance of a sleep schedule for children. "They behave better! They focus better! They are healthier!" Speaking from personal experience, we have a consistent sleep schedule for my nearly 2-year-old daughter, and we’ve been following it since she was 2½ months old. Essential oils are a critical part of that process—my daughter now knows when it’s time to fill up the diffuser with our fave sleepy-time oil. And today, she’s the definition of a good sleeper. At some point along the way, we forgot what our parents taught us. Even armed with the oils, I know one day my daughter will suffer from sleepless nights. Life, school, work, parties, kids, etc., get in the way of the sleep schedules we learned so long ago. When you incorporate essential oils into your nighttime routine, you are arming yourself with a tool that enables you to create new rituals and keep up with them. I saw how well it worked for my daughter, so I started my own routine to improve my sleep issues. I now have my go-to oils and rituals for when I can’t quiet the noise of the day or when my insomnia or sleep paralysis flares up. I’m living proof that it’s not too late to teach an old zombie new tricks!
Want to create a sleep ritual of your own? Here's what you need.
- Essential oils (keep scrolling for a list of the best essential oils for sleep)
- An ultrasonic diffuser
- A carrier oil, like jojoba, fractionated coconut, almond, castor, etc.
- 4-ounce glass spray bottles and 10-mL glass roller bottles
Welcome home sprayWhen you get home, change into your comfy clothes and spray them with a grounding spray to help you make the transition from work to home. In a 4-ounce glass spray bottle, combine 20 drops each of clary sage and wild orange, and then fill to the top with water. Shake before use.
Personal calming scentsConsider making a "perfume" with essential oils that you can roll onto your inner wrists, behind the ears, or on the back of your neck throughout the day when you’re feeling stressed. The idea is that the more relaxed you are during the day, the better you may sleep at night. In a 10-mL glass roller bottle, combine 10 drops each of your favorite calming scents and then fill to the top with a carrier oil, such as:
- Petitgrain + Clary Sage
- Cedarwood or Frankincense + Petitgrain (a muskier, masculine option)
- Bergamot + Cedarwood
- Neroli + Vetiver
Sleepy-time diffuser blendsWhen it’s time to start your nighttime routine, or about an hour before bed, start diffusing a sleep blend in your bedroom to help you make the transition to slumber, such as:
- Lavender + Cedarwood + Bergamot
- Vetiver + Cedarwood + Roman Chamomile
- Neroli + Lavender + Frankincense