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February 15, 2017
THESE DAYS, it seems that everyone you know is recommending the use of essential oils to treat everything from the common cold to major depression. You may even have a number of friends who sell the oils themselves. It makes you wonder: Do these oils actually work? Could they make you sleep better and wake more rested? The jury is out on documented benefits, but with safe use, there is no reason not to try them if you are interested.
You may have read that the use of certain kinds of essential oils, such as lavender, are known to promote sleep in infants, children and adults. You may also have heard that they do not work. Clearly, the reviews are mixed. Some studies show that people who consistently use a particular form of aromatherapy notice improvements in anxiety, depression and their ability to sleep.
Other studies reflect that these observations may suffer from confirmation bias, meaning that aromatherapy works only because people believe it does. However, the debated benefits of aromatherapy do not necessarily mean they have no part in your bedtime routine.
Besides efficacy, a lot of the discussion surrounding aromatherapy concerns safety. You may think nothing of applying peppermint essential oil to your temples, because you love to pop a few peppermint leaves in a cold drink during the summer or the holidays. However, consuming a plant and putting the concentrated oils on to your skin are not the same thing. Some oils are not intended to be used undiluted. Infants and children, as well as adults with certain health conditions like pregnancy, should not apply essential oils directly. Talk to your doctor about using aromatherapy in your daily routines.
Fortunately, aromatherapy does not always require you to put the oil on your skin. There are many ways to transmit the scent of the oil to your nose to create a comfortable sense before you go to bed.
For example, you can purchase bath bombs that contain small amounts of essential oils. You might even put a few drops directly into your bath. Do a little research into the types of essential oils that are known to relax you, so you do not find yourself surprisingly awake as you crawl into bed. You could also use a diffuser that runs before bed or overnight.
Aromatherapy only requires essential oils and a way to get them to your nose. Although some people like to apply the oils to the skin, this practice calls for an experienced hand and the ability to discern quality oils from artificial products. Locate a qualified aromatherapist near you and consult them for recommendations.
Purchase one or two different scents of oils that you like. Put the oils into the bath, onto a cotton ball or into a diffuser. The diffuser uses water to dilute the oils and diffuse the scent and cool steam into the air. Be wary of using too much in any instance, because a little goes a long way for some oils. A nice bath, or an hour or two of diffuser time, may make relaxation much easier.
There is a lot of information out there about essential oils, but you have to be careful what you take as fact. If your doctor says you could safely use them, adding some oils to a bath or a diffuser might help you feel better and rest effectively.