Essential Oils for Sleep: Everything You Need to Know

written by / August 16, 2019
Essential Oils for Sleep - Featured

You know how a certain smell can instantly evoke a vivid memory or a strong feeling? For example, a shower gel with a coconut scent can send you to the beach even though it’s mid-November? Or the smell of freshly baked cookies gets you back to your childhood?

Although this power of scents seems magical, there’s a scientific explanation to it. To put it simply, our nerves in the nose are directly connected to the areas in our brain responsible for our memory and mood.

Basically, aromatherapy relies on this, offering you a number of essential oils for sleep that can help you relax and fall asleep more easily. So let’s see how you can use them to relieve some mild sleep problems. Of course, if you suffer from a serious sleep disorder, it’s always best to consult with a medical professional.

How Do Essential Oils Work?

A range of essential oils from plants can have positive effects on our sleep. Some of them have a calming effect, helping us relax and destress after a hectic day. These are commonly used for alleviating the symptoms of insomnia. Others can help us clear the airways, so they are commonly known as essential oils for snoring and sleep apnea.

In any case, the essential oil will fill your bedroom with a pleasant scent, which will improve your sleeping environment. If you start using aromatherapy night after night, your mind will eventually start associating a specific fragrance with falling asleep.

Since they are natural, many people choose essential oils over sleeping pills, which can have numerous side effects such as headache, dizziness, and daytime sleepiness. Interestingly, a German study revealed that a jasmine fragrance can relieve anxiety and promote sleep in the same way as commonly prescribed medications. This finding can serve as a scientific basis for using aromatherapy for sleep. However, more research is needed to provide more evidence that this alternative medicine is really effective.

Also, you should know that some natural oils can have different effects on different people. For example, not all people react to sandalwood in the same way. Although this scent generally has a relaxing effect, some people may become sleepy, while others can feel more alert. Therefore, you might have to experiment a bit before you find the right scent for your good night’s sleep.

How to Use Essential Oils for Sleep

You can use essential oils to promote good sleep in several ways:

Add a few drops of essential oil to your bath. Making a hot bath a part of your bedtime ritual is a great idea. However, make sure you get out of the tub about an hour before bedtime because hot water tends to improve circulation, which can make you more alert instead of sleepy. For the best effect, mix your favorite essential oil for sleep with some Epsom salt and enjoy your relaxing bath time.

Spray it onto your bedding. There are a number of essential oil blends that can help you fall asleep more quickly. Just choose the one you prefer and create your own spray that you may spritz around the room or on your linens.

Use a diffuser. This is a simple way to reap the benefits of aromatherapy. You just need to mix some essential oil with water by following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Add some essential oil to your facial steaming treatment. You can use one of the essential oils for sleep apnea because inhaling steam is known for relieving sinus congestion. So it can help you alleviate the symptoms of sleep apnea.

Rub a few drops onto your skin. You can massage a bit of essential oil onto your wrists or neck, for example, but be careful because essential oils are highly concentrated and can cause skin irritation. So if you prefer to apply them topically, it’s best to use oil which is diluted with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil or olive oil.

Best Essential Oils for Sleep

If you’re experiencing some sleep problems and looking for a natural sleep aid, you might consider using one of the following essential oils.


Lavender is one of the most popular essential oils for insomnia and improving sleep quality. Its calming scent helps us relax and promotes sleep. There are a number of studies that prove its positive effects on our slumber.

A 2015 study showed that lavender fragrance can improve the quality of sleep in women during the postpartum period. Another study from 2017 found out that lavender can relieve stress and promote good sleep in patients in the intensive care unit.

Besides being one of the most commonly used essential oils for relaxation and sleep, this beautiful plant offers more health benefits. Other lavender oil uses include relieving pain and reducing anxiety.


Valerian root has been used as a sleep aid since the 17th century. According to many studies, valerian essential oil can help us have a great night’s sleep. Besides using it as a part of aromatherapy, you can also take some valerian root tea to enhance your sleep quality.

Roman Chamomile

Essential Oils for Sleep - Chamomile

This widely-known medical herb is often used to relieve the symptoms of insomnia. There is also some scientific evidence that proves its effectiveness as one of the essential oils for sleep and anxiety.


Roses aren’t just pretty. Essential oil made of these delicate flowers with a pleasant smell can have numerous benefits. It’s one of the essential oils used for stress relief. In addition, it’s known to alleviate anxiety and promote quality sleep.


Certain studies show that jasmine scent can have sedative effects, so we can say that it belongs to calming essential oils. Another study found out that this essential oil can be used for reducing depressive symptoms.


There are several studies that suggest we can use cedarwood oil for sleep. In one Japanese study, the researchers found out that cadrol, a component of cedarwood essential oil, has sedative effects.

Another study examined the effect of essential oil combinations on the quality of sleep in the elderly with dementia. It was noticed that participants who used a blend containing cedarwood among other essential oils slept longer.


A tropical tree called Cananga produces these beautiful flowers that bring us several health benefits. Research has shown that ylang-ylang essential oil can alleviate stress and reduce high blood pressure. It’s also often added to essential oil blends for sleep.


As one of the essential oils for relaxation, vanilla can help you ease your mind and fall asleep quicker. Based on the studies conducted on mice, vanillin, a major component of vanilla, has antidepressant effects. Therefore, if you enjoy vanilla’s exotic scent, you could try to include this essential oil in your bedtime routine.


One of the many health benefits of peppermint is that it can clear the clogged sinuses. That’s why you can use peppermint oil for snoring problems and even relieving the symptoms of sleep apnea. It’s best to try steam inhalation before going to bed or you can rub a drop on the bottom of your nose.


Thyme essential oil is another great option for alleviating snoring since it can enhance our respiratory health thanks to its antimicrobial effect. There are several ways how you can use it. For example, you can mix it with a carrier oil and then rub it into your feet or disperse it around your bedroom using a diffuser.

Essential Oils for Sleep and Children

Essential oils are not recommended for use in children younger than 6 months. Also, don’t use them without consulting your pediatrician first.

When choosing an essential oil for your baby, look for one that’s made of natural ingredients only. It’s also important to make sure that it doesn’t contain anything that your child might be allergic to.

Finally, don’t rub undiluted essential oils directly into your baby’s skin because they may irritate it and always follow the instructions on the product’s label.

Side Effects of Essential Oils for Better Sleep

Essential Oils for Sleep - Uses

To prevent an allergic reaction, you should always apply a new essential oil on a small skin area. If you don’t experience any irritation in the next 24 hours, the product is safe to use.

Furthermore, you should never apply an essential oil directly to your skin. Instead, always mix it with a carrier oil, such as jojoba, coconut, or almond oil.

Additionally, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should take extra caution when using aromatherapy and should always first consult with their doctor before using essential oils.


What are the best essential oils for sleep and relaxation?

Since people react differently to different scents, you’ll have to experiment a bit in order to find the best essential oil for you. However, some of the most commonly used natural oils that can help you relax are lavender, Roman chamomile, valerian, and vanilla.

Where do you put lavender oil to help you sleep?

Lavender is one of the most relaxing essential oils and there are several ways you can use it to improve your night’s rest. You can use a diffuser to fill your bedroom’s air with this pleasant scent or you can take a bath with some lavender oil. Another option is to massage a few drops into your wrists, temples, or neck.

Where to apply essential oils for snoring?

If you use essential oils to relieve snoring, you can apply a drop of peppermint oil on the bottom of your nose or rub a few drops of thyme oil on your feet. Some also recommend rubbing a small amount of essential oil onto your chest. However, you can also add them to an air diffuser or your bedtime bath. Steam inhalation is another effective way to use essential oils to prevent snoring.

What essential oil wakes you up?

There are several essential oils known for their energizing effects. Some of them are citrus, peppermint, rosemary, and eucalyptus essential oils. Since peppermint and eucalyptus are also often recommended for preventing snoring, it’s best to use them about an hour before bedtime if they make you feel alert.

How do you use vetiver oil for sleep?

Vetiver essential oil can be used for relieving snoring. It’s also good for alleviating anxiety. You can either put it in an aromatherapy diffuser or mix it with some carrier oil and apply topically to your skin.


Do you suffer from insomnia or experience other sleep problems? Why don’t you try aromatherapy? Essential oils for sleep are a simple and inexpensive way to deal with your sleep-related issues. It’s amazing how their scents can be relaxing and how they can help us achieve more peaceful slumber. However, it’s best to consult with your physician if you have a serious sleep disorder. Also, always ask for professional medical advice if you are pregnant or want to improve your baby’s sleep.

Before I started working as a sleep expert, I always envied people who were passionate about their jobs. Now I finally have an opportunity to do something I truly enjoy, and no, I can’t sleep at work! For me, it’s definitely as good as it gets—as I spend a considerable amount of time lying down on various mattresses, testing sleeping products, and reviewing them to help guide you to your ideal sleeping situation. Plus, I work tightly with other sleep experts and doctors to provide you with valuable information and helpful advice about sleep.