Lavender oil is widely used in aromatherapy as a natural sleep aid. Lavender (Lavandula officinalis or Lavandula angustifolia) is a native Mediterranean plant, which gets its fragrance from the essential oils contained in its flowers. Lavender oil is used in aromatherapy due to its healing properties.
The Benefits of Lavender Oil Generally and as a Natural Sleep Aid
Although lavender oil has not been extensively studied yet, but some researches suggest that lavender aromatherapy serves as a natural sleep aid and help with conditions such as:
- Anxiety – Researches show that lavender helps ease anxiety among adults. It has a calming effect on the nervous system. According to some studies, lavender acts as an anti-anxiety agent in conditions of low anxiety, and may not be as helpful in high anxiety conditions. The peaceful effect it gives people serves as a sleep aid which enables people to sleep easily.
- Insomnia – Lavender is often looked at as a natural sleep aid because of its sedative effects. In 2005, a small study was carried out, which reported that a group of people with insomnia showed improvements in their sleep after using lavender for four weeks. An aromatherapy vaporizer was used at their bedtimes, which helped in inducing sleep. The results of the study showed that younger volunteers and women having milder insomnia improved faster than others.
- Alopecia Areata – This is a disorder which causes round patches of baldness in people very rapidly. After carrying out a study on 86 people having Alopecia Areata, researchers came to a good conclusion about Lavender. It was found out that 44% of the people that massaged their scalp with lavender oil (in combination with jojoba, oils of thyme, grapeseed, cedarwood and rosemary) on a daily basis, had a significant amount of improvement in their condition after only seven months.
How Lavender Oil is Used
Lavender oil can be in various ways, like:
- In massages (which works like a natural sleep aid and helps people fall asleep instantly)
- Direct application to the skin
- In baths
- Inhaling (by sprinkling a few drops of the oil in a cloth or by using aromatherapy diffusers or vaporizers)
Lavender oil is easily available in food or health stores and is also available at spas. Dried lavender is available in the form of tea. One important thing to remember is that lavender oil must not be consumed internally without the supervision or direction of health professionals.
Side Effects of Lavender Oil
Lavender oil is generally considered safe. However, it sometimes causes skin irritations and also aggravates drowsiness in people going through sedative medications. A small study in 2007 also showed that lavender oils contained in personal care products sometime causes gynecomastia – the development of breasts in males.
Aromatherapy Massage – Natural Sleep Aid
Aromatherapy massage is a massage therapy which involves the use of high concentration plant oils (essential oils) in combination with lotions or massage oils. Aromatherapy massage has the effect of a natural sleep aid on the body.
Nostrils are connected to a part of the brain called the limbic system, which controls and influences the human nervous system. It controls the emotions and hormones in the body. When people inhale essential oils, the molecules transmit a message to the limbic system, which affects the breathing, digestion, memory, stress level, heart rate and immune system of the body.
Essential oils also get absorbed through the skin and are believed to have different healing properties. Some essential oils have a calming effect, while some have an energizing effect. Here is a small list of essential oils with their properties:
- Lavender, Geranium, Chamomile – Calming effect
- Clary Sage, Neroli, Rose, Ylang Ylang – Uplifting effect
- Rosemary – Energizing and cleansing effect
- Tea Tree, Pine, Eucalyptus – Decongesting effect
How Aromatherapy Massage Works As a Natural Sleep Aid
Aromatherapy is particularly ideal for use in improving stress and emotional conditions. The following are a few conditions on which aromatherapy works as a natural sleep aid:
- Stress related conditions (insomnia)
- Digestion problems
- Back pains
- PMS (premenstrual syndrome)
The following are a few examples of the researches carried out on aromatherapy overtime:
- Sixteen new mothers (first time mothers) received aromatherapy massages for 2 days after delivery, while 20 mothers went through normal post-partum care. The group of mothers that received aromatherapy showed significant decrease in the rate of anxiety attacks and post-partum blues.
- Cancer patients in the palliative care setting show increased signs of improvement by using aromatherapy.
- Aromatherapy massages using aromatherapy oils show more significant signs of improvement in symptoms of sleep disorders and the overall well being of people having lymphedema.
What Is Expected From an Aromatherapy Massage Session
Certain essential oils are selected for use, (based on the individuals needs) and are mixed with massage lotions or oils. The aroma of the subtle essential oils is diffused all around the individual during the massage session. The inhaling of these essential oils have a very relaxing and healing effect on the nerves and the entire body, which works a great natural sleepi aid as well.