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Aromatherapy for Insomnia

Aromatherapy for Insomnia

Aromatherapy for Insomnia and Difficulty Sleeping

If you are like me at the moment, your sleep pattern is all over the place. For those of you without your regular routines you may be experiencing mild insomnia.

Insomnia can impact our well being and the quality of our lives. The frustration of not being able to get a good night’s sleep can make the situation worse.

Hectic lifestyles, stress, depression, physical illness and working unusual schedules can all be root causes for insomnia.

Aromatherapy cannot cure insomnia or its root cause, but using calming and relaxing essential oils before your intended bedtime can potentially help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep until your intended wake-up time. Of course, if you have an ongoing, serious sleep disorder, you should see your health professional to discuss your situation and gain treatment for the root cause of your insomnia.

If you suffer from occasional insomnia or sleep disturbances and want to try ideas that may help you fall asleep faster, consider the following tips:

Several essential oils that can be used to promote restful sleep, but the one that has been studied the most is lavender. It’s one of the few essential oils that can be rubbed into the skin without dilution. The second most popular is valerian. Other essential oils used for insomnia and better sleep include  sweet marjoram, chamomile, peppermint, sandalwood, jasmine, rose, geranium, ylang-ylang, cedarwood, citrus, bergamot, and vanilla. These oils can be used individually or in combination.

People respond to different oils differently. One person raves about lavender while another chamomile. Every oil has different effects and ultimately the best thing to do is to try a few to see how you respond. 

Aromatic Cotton Ball by Bedside:

Add a drop of Roman Chamomile Oil or Lavender Oil (or any of the above mentioned oils) to a tissue or cotton ball and place that near your pillow at bedtime. Roman Chamomile Oil is considered a natural sedative. Another essential oil that possesses sedating properties is Clary Sage. (not to be used if you are pregnant)

Bed Linen Spray:

Create a calming bed linen spray and lightly spray your sheets before bedtime. (add a little vodka to your spray bottle to help your chosen oils to disperse better)

Bath time:

Bathing is a wonderful way to relax, but avoid taking a bath immediately before bedtime. Hot water can increase your circulation and make it hard to fall asleep. Instead, plan to finish your bathing ritual about an hour before bed. While bathing, add a drop or two of Ylang Ylang or Bergamot to your bathwater
The minerals in natural salts, especially Dead Sea salts and epsom salts, help to relax muscles which in turn can help you to relax overall.


Like bathing, massage is stimulating to your circulation and should generally be avoided immediately before bedtime. Prior to bedtime, however, try gently massaging your feet and legs with a calming massage oil or lotion. (I love using peppermint with my body moisturiser as it’s really cooling after a hard day)


Borrowed from the field of herbalism, herbal teas using botanicals that have a natural sedative effect can be both soothing and relaxing before bedtime. Try natural chamomile tea. Teas made from passion flower and valerian are also considered to be very relaxing and help to encourage sleep, but do not have the familiar and pleasant flavour that chamomile tea offers.

Avoid Stimulating Essential Oils Before Bedtime:

Some essential oils can be particularly energizing and stimulating (i.e. cypress, rosemary, grapefruit, lemon). Avoid using these oils and products containing them before bed or they may make your insomnia worse.

The safest and most recommended course of action that you can take is to seek out the in-person guidance of a qualified Aromatherapist in your area. Your particular health situation and the root cause of your insomnia can make a difference in the most suitable recommendations for you. A qualified practitioner should conduct a case history on you and guide you based on your personal background and recommend blends suitable for you and discuss suitable dosages and methods of administration.

Other naturally based or simple ideas for helping ease sleeplessness include the following:

Exercise Regularly:

Exercising right before bed isn’t a good idea, but establishing a regular exercise routine can help ease stress, eliminate toxins from your system, improve your overall health and help you to sleep better at bedtime. Of course, the disclaimer has to be mentioned that you should talk to your doctor before starting a new health or exercise programme.

Avoid Eating Before Bedtime:

Unless you have diabetes or a health issue that may require you to eat right before bedtime, avoid doing so. Carbohydrates, spicy foods and foodstuffs with caffeine are especially prone to making it hard to fall asleep easily.

Avoid Stressful Activities and Situations Before Bedtime:

Whenever possible, spend the last hour before bedtime unwinding and doing something that you find relaxing. If scary movies or TV shows gets your adrenaline racing, consider watching comedies instead. Right before bed also isn’t the ideal time to finally work on your finances or call that relative who always upsets you.

Tuning Out Noise:

If a root cause of your insomnia is due to noise or distractions, try masking the noise by playing soothing music, using a natural noise machine (the kind that plays soothing natural sounds such as ocean waves or rain) or using ear plugs. These ideas should only be tried if you are in a sleeping situation in which you don’t have to worry about masking out all noises.

Tuning Out Light:

If lights make it hard for you to fall asleep or stay asleep, make sure that your window treatments mask out all light, especially if your schedule requires you to sleep at times when it is light out. Eye masks are also available that filter out light. Some work better than others, so try them on first to ensure a good fit.

I am happy to have a consult with you and advise on what blends are best to suit your needs. You can email me on claire@riverholistic.ie