We know most essential oils smell day-spa delicious, but did you know they also have sedative effects? These powerhouses of nature are typically distilled from the leaves, flowers and stems of plants, leaving a powerful concentration of phytochemicals (naturally occurring plant chemicals). Studies have shown essential oils can help relieve stress, relax the body and promote better sleep, so they’re the perfect addition to your bedtime ritual. Scatter a few drops on your fresh cotton pillowcase, add some to a diffuser in your bedroom, or rub on the bottom of your feet or back of your neck before you dive under the sheets. Here are our picks.
1. Lavender Popular since ancient times, research shows lavender calms the nervous system, lowering blood pressure, heart rate and skin temperature, and changes brainwaves to a more relaxed state. Try scattering a few drops in a bath before bedtime for a calming soak. (Lavender can also double as a linen freshener: just mix a few drops with water in a spray bottle and spritz on your cotton sheets). Try: Australian Wholesale Oils ACO Certified Organic Lavender Oil, $16.50 for 15ml
2. Ylang-ylang The ylang-ylang flower comes from the Indonesian cananga tree, and one whiff will transport you to a tropical island. Its sedative effects can help you fall asleep faster, and research shows it can reduce stress. If the aroma is a bit overpowering, try blending it with another essential oil. Try: In Essence Ylang Ylang Pure Essential Oil, $36.95 for 9ml
3. Chamomile You probably know sipping a chamomile tea before bed has calming benefits, and a chamomile essential oil can pack a more powerful punch. Its fragrant flowers work beautifully to gently calm the nerves and soothe stress and tension before bedtime. Try: doTERRA Roman Chamomile Oil, $93 for 5ml
4. Yuzu Yuzu is a type of East Asian yellow citrus fruit, and the Japanese have been taking ‘yuzu baths’ to relieve stress since the 18th century. The citrus scent of yuzu can soothe stress and anxiety and lower your heart rate, according to this study. Try: @aroma Yuzu Aroma Oil, $27.90 for 10ml
5. Valerian Valerian doesn’t exactly smell like roses (if you’ve sipped earthy-scented valerian tea, you’ll understand!), but it’s known as the heal-all herb. Used since ancient times, valerian has sedative properties to gently calm your active brain so you can drift swiftly off to dreamland. It can also improve the overall quality of your sleep. Try: Ahimsa Valerian Root Essential Oil, $23 for 5ml