There are many essential oils that are said anecdotally to help encourage feelings of relaxation and aid sleep.
It's certainly true that relaxation is the state of mind we MUST enter before our brain switches off and allows sleep to take over our active minds, and smell is one of the easiest ways we can help our minds enter that state of relaxation
Smells or aromas reach our brain via the olfactory bulb - one of most closely linked 'entry points' to the amygdala and limbic regions of our brains. These are the centres controlling our mood, emotion and memory (explaining why smells can be so evocative of a time and place in your distant past).
These ancient and primitive parts of our brain are also the control centres that turn on our autonomic nervous system which stimulates a cascade of physcial response linked to fight or flight - increased heart rates, rapid breathing and higher blood pressure. Conversely these parts of our brain also regulate and turn 'on' our parasympathetic nervous system which decreases our heart and breathing rate and relaxes our bodies.
Smell, linked to the limbic and amygdala brain regions can powerfully activate our parasympathetic nervous system, soothing, relaxing and calming us.
Several scientific studies in recent years have been able to identify the chemical components in certain essential oils that are linked to this relaxing effect - a key one being linalool which is, not that suprisingly, found in many of the anecdotally used 'relaxing' essential oils
Some of the more well known 'relaxant' oils inlcude:
- Ylang Ylang
- Clary Sage
However even the most relaxing essential oils have to be used with caution - Lavender for example becomes a stimulant rather than a relaxant if used to excess.
The Serenity range is a rather personal one as this award winning blend was formulated by me during a time when insomnia seemed to have taken a strong hold. I struggled to fall asleep, and immediately had the "oh no I'm not going to be able to sleep" thought when my head hit the pillow. It would take forever to nod off, and then I'd often wake a few hours later and the cycle would be on a nightmareish repeat. The use of essential oils, in particular the blend that now forms the core fragrance base for our entire Serenity range, really helped shift my mind into a calmer and stiller place. Fragrance overtook the racing thoughts.
I now use the Serenity Sleep Mist every day. It's a gentle ritual nudge that signifies without the need for conscious thinking that "the time to sleep is now". When I smell that fragrance my brain KNOWS that sleep is about to happen and that relaxation is about to begin.
The aromatherapy mists that we craft at Bloom are made from a pure blend of floral waters (a by product of the essential oil distillation process) and organic essential oils. You can easily make your own sleep/aroma mists if you have access to certain essential oils by adding a few relaxant drops of oils to some spring water. Shake well before use and spritz onto your pillow.
For a 50ml bottle with a 1% blend of oils you could try:
- 2 drops of Lavender
- 1 drop of Clary Sage
- 2 drop of Bergamot
- 2 drops of Jasmine
- 2 drop of Bergamot
- 1 drop of Ylang Ylang