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Night Night, Sleep Tight
Tossing and turning?
Shattered but just can’t keep your eyes closed long enough to drift off?
Gah! It’s annoying isn’t it! Actually sometimes (often) it’s more than annoying. Being overtired, unable to sleep or dealing with insomnia can be life changing. It makes you irritable, snappy, angry, depressed, unable to concentrate or gain focus and clarity and actually sometimes ill. We’ve all had those nights where we HAVE to get to sleep because we have an important meeting/interview/event the next day but our brain decides that’s when it would like to be most active! We’ve all had that feeling when you are so so so tired and so looking forward to bed but when you get there you just can’t sleep. There’s lots of sleep advice out there but one thing that has worked really well for me, and for my coaching clients has been the use of aromatherapy oils.
Aromatherapy is a wonderful natural way of helping the body and mind. I’ve been an Aromatherapist for about 14 years now and use essential oils for lots of ailments and conditions and to help me when I’m stressed out, anxious, needing to concentrate or to help me relax and get off to sleep.
Essential oils are the purest part of a plant and have been used for thousands of years as a natural medicine. They originated in the Far East in Ayurvedic medicine and were also used in Ancient Egypt in the embalming process and as incense and perfume. We also hear about essential oils in the story of the birth of Jesus when the three kings bought gifts of frankincense and myrrh. The wonderful spicy and opulent scents travelled to Europe with trade routes and they were very prized and very precious.
By the 16th century essential oils were found in every apothecary on every street corner and we used to treat all sorts of medical problems. With the boom of the perfume industry people started to look at how you could create the smells of the essential oils much more cheaply. The smells were then created synthetically in factories and whilst the oils smelt nice, because they were not derived from plants they lost all of their therapeutic properties and aromatherapy as a medicine because discredited.
Gradually as people become more and more concerned with what we are putting in and on our bodies we are turning to plants once again to help us. A more plant based diet perhaps? A deeper connection to the natural world? A more natural way of living?
You can use essential oils in so many ways. For a better night’s sleep I burn about 6 drops of an essential oil in an oil burner in the room I am in 1-2 hours before bed, I might add them to my bath, or add a few drops to my pillows.
Here’s my top 3 recommendations for a better night’s sleep:
Chamomile (Roman) – This herb has been used in natural medicine for over 2000 years and is wonderfully calming and relaxing. It helps to relieve mental stress, calms headaches and relieves muscular tension. All of these characteristics help the body and mind to calm before sleep and this oil is fabulous for treating insomnia. It is quite a strong smelling oil so I would recommend using this by having a warm bath just before bed and mixing 5 drops of the oil into a teaspoon of salt and then adding to a running bath. Turn your phone off, lock the door, close your eyes, relax and let nature do its job.
Ylang Ylang – A tropical tree with very fragrant flowers. Traditionally in Indonesia the flowers are left on a newly married couples’ bed (this oil is also an aphrodisiac!). This oil has a calming and regulating effect on the cardiac and respiratory rhythm which is why it is used to aid sleep. It also improves symptoms of depression and reduces blood pressure which again, helps to improve chances of visiting the land of slumber! I would add this oil to an oil burner and light it in the room I was in prior to going to bed. See if you can smell this oil before you buy it, it’s a bit marmite, some people love it, some people hate it!
Lavender – My personal favourite for sleep! It’s calming, relaxing, comforting and generally most people like the smell. It’s wonderful for calming anxiety or fears and really does feel like a big warm hug. It helps with panic and restlessness and is a smell most people are used to. I would put 2/3 drops of this on my pillow and snuggle up feeling the wonderful floral scents aiding me to drift off. You could also mix this oil in your oil burner or bath with the other oils if they are too strong a smell on their own.
If sleep is something you struggle with I absolutely recommend trying essential oils. They work psychologically with smells reminding us of things that are relaxing (or energising/opulent/warming etc.), physiologically by influencing the hormones within the system and physically through the use of massage, natural skincare and applying diluted oils. Good night, sleep tight!
Safety – You should always check the contraindications of an oil before you use it. Some oils are not suitable for certain conditions e.g. pregnancy and epilepsy. Some oils are not suitable for use before going out in the sun. Always check before you use.
Never ingest an oil. Whilst there are natural plant oils in the food we eat in the discipline of Aromatherapy we never ingest any essential oils.
Do not apply an essential oil directly to the skin. Essential oils should always be diluted before use. This can be done in a plant oil, salt or milk for example.
The recommended dilution of an essential oil is:
1% essential oil dilution = 1 drop per 5ml or 2 drops per 10ml etc. (recommended for elderly, frail, people with allergies or sensitivities, children under 4, and during pregnancy)
2% essential oil dilution = 2 drops per 5ml or 4 drops per 10ml etc. (normal fit, strong, healthy, well individuals)
3% essential oil dilution = 3 drops per 5ml or 6 drops per 10ml etc. (for local area application only i.e. application to a specific part / small area of the body only (excluding the face)
Hayley Gillard is an Ecotherapist and a Life Coach and uses nature to help people to manage their emotional wellbeing. She runs regular outdoor workshops and retreats as well as one to one coaching and online programmes. You can find out more about her work at www.hayleygillard.com and www.wildgoosecic.co.uk