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Aromatherapy Technique for Enhancing Sleep

Simi Susan Joseph

Paper 302: Alternate Healing Techniques

Sampurna Institute of Advanced Studies

05 October, 2010


True and therapeutic aromatherapy has many uses for personal care. Essential oils work on

the psychological and physiological to balance mind, body, and spirit. Pure oils are the key to

achieving the desired results in care. Uses are explained, and personal experiences are

included. Suggested methods to facilitate peaceful sleep in the night conclude the article.


According to Cristina (2004) Aromatherapy, a science and an art, is the use of plant-

based essential oils and hydrosols to balance the mind, body, and spirit. An essential oil is a

volatile liquid extracted from various plant parts by steam distillation. Those plant parts may

be the root, seed, leaf, flower, peel, bark, resin, wood, or berry. A hydrosol is the plant water

obtained from distillation for essential oil or distillation only for a hydrosol. The science

refers to an understanding of the therapeutic properties of essential oils through chemistry.

The art is bringing essential oils together in a blend to enhance the therapeutic effect.

Aromatherapy is most commonly associated with the sense of smell. Essential oils can

be absorbed into the body by inhalation and skin application. Our sense of smell is our

internal link to the outside world. Smell chemically connects our brain to our environment.

Perceived odors can trigger perception and memories, smell-related emotions and behaviors,

as well as regulating feeding, autonomic responses, and hormonal output. By smelling an

appropriate essential oil, the user can become relaxed or invigorated, be soothed, feel

emotionally balanced, improve a mood, reduce stress, have a memory, or recall a beautiful

place or event. Essential oils can also increase the circulation of blood, stimulate the immune

system, and reduce lung and sinus congestion. Essential oils help us to feel good about

ourselves. True aromatherapy is a complement to medical treatment, not a substitute for it.

Sleep & Aromatherapy

Sleep is something we all take for granted. After a long day at work there is nothing

nicer than shutting your eyes and drifting off into a pleasant dream world, then awakening

the next morning refreshed and recharged. Most people have experienced temporary

sleeplessness at some point, and can identify with the frustration that not being able to sleep

can bring.

Medications can bring temporary relief, but to truly beat insomnia you need to address

the problem with gentler solutions that allow your body and mind to sort the problem out

themselves. One of these alternative therapies is Aromatherapy. Many people assume

aromatherapy is just a pleasant massage with nice smelling oils, as that is the main way it is

used in the western world. But Aromatherapy is actually much more than that, a gentle

therapy that works on many levels to restore balance and harmony to the body (Cooksley,


Lavender is the best known of these. Calming and sedating, it helps to slow down

your thinking and allows you to let go of any tension and anxiety. Its gorgeous aroma instills

a sense of positive warmth, enveloping and comforting you (Catty, 2001).

Enhancing Sleep: My Personal Experience

In 2008, I was struggling between a high demanding job and my responsibilities as a

wife. Very soon, my performance at both workplace and at home began deteriorating. At

work, I was struggling to finish the deadline and the quality of my work was considerably

affected. At home, I hardly had any energy or time to spend with my family let alone cook or

clean the house. My relationship with my family members became very strained. The direct

effect of all this was on my health.

Soon I took the bold decision to quit my job and take a sabbatical to spend time with

family and with myself with the hope that I can improve my health. However my sleep was

greatly affected by the time I decided to take a break. Incomplete and disturbed sleep hardly

gave me energy to pull through the day. I was perpetually tired and groggy inspite of the fact

that my I was not working any more. In the night, I could not fall asleep till after it was 2 pm

and woke up atleast 2-3 times before I had to wake up in the morning.

Medication was the last thing I wanted to get on to resolve my problem and hence I

kept struggling with sleep issues. It was by chance that I came across aromatherapy oils in

the supermarket. A small bottle of lavender oil claimed to improved sleep if appropriately

used. I personally knew that mind had a huge role in making drugs or any sort of therapy

work on the body however I had my own doubts about making this oil work for me. A little

research on the internet and I was all set to use the oil. I am not claiming that it worked

wonders on the first day itself however the instant soothing effect it gave was remarkable. It

became a daily ritual and I also made very important lifestyle changes like not eating

anything after 8 pm, being mentally and physically active, doing basic breathing exercise,

being happy and most importantly going to bed at 11pm. I used the lavender in my diffuser

all nights for almost an year and I had the most peaceful sleep of my life during that period.

Methods to use Aromatherapy to Facilitate Peaceful Sleep

A foot massage will calm you ready for sleep. Add no more than 10 drops of

essential oil to 30ml of carrier oil (sweet almond is a good choice). Spend plenty of time

working the oil into each foot, using a combination of light and deep strokes to relax your

feet and improve circulation (Price, 1991).

Another easy way to use aromatherapy for insomnia is to use a diffuser or oil burner

to release the essential oils into your bedroom. A few drops of your chosen oil(s) into the

little metal bowl will gradually be warmed and diffused into the room, soothing you to sleep.


Catty, S. (2001). Hydrosols: The next aromatherapy. Rochester, VT: Healing

Arts Press.

Cooksley, V. (1996). Aromatherapy: A lifetime guide to healing with essential

oils. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Cristina, E.D. (2004). Understanding True Aromatherapy: Understanding Essential Oils

Home Health Care Management & Practice October 2004 (16): 474-479.

Price, S. (1991). Aromatherapy for common ailments. New York: Simon &


Price, L., & Price, S. (1995). Aromatherapy for health professionals. London:

Churchill Livingston.

Price, S. (1998). Aromatherapy workbook: A complete guide to understanding

and using essential oils. London: Thorsons.