If you or someone you know is struggling with sleep apnea, you know the possible difficulties that come with treating it. Whether it be dealing with an obnoxious CPAP machine or just struggling to sleep through your partner’s snoring, sleep apnea can seem like a tunnel with no light at the end.
Thankfully, essential oils have been found as a great assist for treating sleep apnea. As an all-natural remedy, there is a plethora of health benefits essential oils provide in addition to helping treat various disorders and illnesses.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that is characterized by frequent pauses in breathing, shallow breathing, and intense snoring, snorting, or choking during sleep.
This is usually caused by a blockage in the airway when you sleep. For example, with Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), which is the most common form of sleep apnea, the soft tissues in the back of the throat relax during sleep and then collapses, blocking the airway and preventing normal breathing.
Symptoms of sleep apnea include loud snoring, frequent wakefulness throughout the night, headaches, dry mouth, or sore throats in the morning, and excessive daytime fatigue.
Sleep apnea can be very dangerous, so if you or a loved one are showing signs of it, it’s best to get checked out by a sleep professional first. At Advanced Sleep Centers of Virginia, we have a highly trained team of sleep specialists ready to help you with diagnosing and treating a wide range of sleep disorders, including just simple snoring.
What are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are concentrated volatile compounds extracted from various plants that retain the plant’s essence (or its scent and flavor). True essential oils are made through the process of distillation. Essential oils are considered “volatile oils.”
Essential oils are used primarily for aromatherapy, but they offer many other benefits. Usually, an oil is inhaled or diluted and used topically. Some essential oils are actually safe to ingest, though.
The chemical compounds in essential oils react with your body’s workings in different ways. For example, inhaling an oil’s aroma stimulates the limbic system, which is the part of the brain that controls emotions, long-term memories, behaviors, and the sense of smell.
Continuous research is showing that essential oils can also have medicinal benefits when the chemical compounds are absorbed into the bloodstream.
So, How Do Essential Oils Connect to Sleep Apnea?
Essential oils are, in fact, an effective way to treat many different sleep disorders and complaints. For instance, lavender is useful for easing insomnia symptoms and anxiety, allowing for the body to get proper rest.
Certain essential oils’ chemical compounds and the way they react to the body have a significant effect on the body’s sleeping ability. While some oils help energize and promote focus, other oils are successful in easing breathing and nerves and helping the body relax in preparation for rest.
Additionally, essential oils are both safe and convenient to use!
The Best Essential Oils for Treating Sleep Apnea
Multiple essential oils have been successful in relieving sleep apnea symptoms and aiding in the treatment process. Listed below are 10 of these oils and how they help with sleep apnea and other sleep conditions:
Lavender is one of the most popular essential oils, due to its many therapeutic benefits. It is known as a relaxant that calms and soothes. It is commonly used in treating anxiety and depression disorders in addition to sleep disorders. Lavender also effectively clears airways in the throat and sinuses.
You can apply lavender on the neck, chest, and feet before bed, or diffuse it and inhale the aroma to help you calm down and sleep easier.
Peppermint is known to be an anti-inflammatory and is useful for easing irritation of the nasal passages. If you’re struggling to sleep due to excessive congestion, peppermint oil is a great option for easing symptoms and getting a better night’s sleep.
Peppermint oil can be applied topically. Putting a drop below each nostril before bed can help reduce congestion and ease sleep apnea symptoms. You could also put a few drops in your hands, cup your nose, and inhale.
Eucalyptus is another anti-inflammatory oil. This oil is popular in treating common colds and the flu, because it actually can clear mucus from the sinuses in addition to easing congestion and sinus irritation.
Eucalyptus as an essential oil is incredibly strong, so dilute it in a carrier oil like coconut oil or canola oil before use. You can apply eucalyptus oil topically before bed or diffuse it. You can also add a few drops to a bath or hot shower and inhale it through the steam.
Roman chamomile oil is another good relaxant. It promotes restful sleep. Roman chamomile has also been found to aid the central nervous system, making it especially useful for those struggling with central sleep apnea (CSA), in which the brain isn’t sending the right signals to the body to keep it breathing during sleep.
5. Thyme Oil
Thyme oil is a well-rounded essential oil; it has anti-aging, anti-fungal, antimicrobial, and anti-parasitic properties. Thyme oil has been used extensively in the treatment of respiratory infections and conditions. Its many benefits aid not just in clearing pathways to treat OSA but also in soothing the cerebral cortex of the brain; in turn, aiding in treating of CSA as well.
Thyme is another strong oil, so if you want to apply it topically, dilute it in a carrier oil. You can also put it in a diffuser by your bed and diffuse it throughout the night to aid in a deep sleep.
6. Geranium Oil
Geranium essential oil is another relaxant, comparable to lavender oil. It can help ease both nerves and various sleep apnea symptoms and aid in a calmer sleep.
The best way to use geranium oil is to apply a few drops onto the neck, chest, and feet and massage it into your skin.
7. Valerian Oil
Valerian root usage actually dates back to premodern times and has been used to calm both body and mind. It’s found to promote healthy sleeping patterns as well. As with most essential oils, you can use this oil topically or diffuse it throughout the night.
8. Lemon Oil
Some studies have shown lemon to be effective in reducing snoring frequency and intensity, especially when combined with other beneficial oils like lavender, thyme, and peppermint.
Lemon oil also has antispasmodic properties that help moisturize nasal passages and clear infections.
Lemon oil is safe to ingest. Diluting a couple drops in an 8 ounce glass of water is a great way to optimize its benefits.
9. Olive Oil
Olive essential oil is another effective aid for sleep apnea. This essential oil actually works like a lubricant, moisturizing those soft tissues in the back of your throat that can cause blockage or discomfort while breathing.
This is another oil you can ingest, so taking a few drops orally before bed can be helpful in relieving symptoms of OSA.
10. Marjoram Oil
Last but definitely not least is marjoram oil. This essential oil has shown the most success in treating sleep apnea symptoms and intense snoring. Its soothing properties help you to have a deep and restful sleep without disruptions. It also helps calm nerves, relax muscles, and promote healthy respiratory function.
Again, you can apply this oil topically or diffuse it; both ways are equally effective. Due to its strength and potency, it’s important to dilute it in a carrier oil, even before diffusing it.
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Using Essential Oils and Additional Safety Tips
Aside from diffusing these oils or putting them on topically, there are a few other common ways to use essential oils:
- Diluting the oil in a glass of water and use as a gargle
- Diluting it and creating a spray mixture (this can be sprayed onto the skin, in the air, or even on your pillow!)
- Added into a vapor rub
- Facial steaming (this is done by boiling water in a pot, adding oil to it, and then laying your head over the pot with a towel covering to trap the steam for inhalation)
Essential oils are great treatment aids and home remedies that provide various benefits, but it’s important that you use them safely. One of the most important rules for using oil safely is diluting them. Most essential oils are incredibly potent and strong; therefore, it’s best to dilute them in a carrier oil such as coconut, canola, or olive oil. This helps prevent problems like skin irritation when using essential oils.
Most essential oils are not regulated by the FDA, so you have to do your own research to find the best quality of essential oil. You only want to use true essential oils, if possible, so stay away from oils made from chemical processes. Read all the labels and research the production company thoroughly before purchasing an essential oil.
Before using an essential oil, a good practice to keep in mind is conducting a skin patch test. Apply a drop of diluted oil to a small section of your skin, then wait 30 minutes to see how the oil affects you. This helps you have a better understanding of how the oil will interact with your system. If you have any form of negative reaction, don’t use it.
Finally, it’s best to consult with a professional before starting the use of essential oils. Advanced Sleep Centers of Virginia can give you reliable information on essential oils, help you find the best ones for you, and aid you in the process of using them!
Considering Essential Oils?
If you are considering using essential oils to improve your sleep or aid in sleep apnea treatment, we are here to help! Our highly trained team of sleep professionals are dedicated to your health. We make diagnosing and treating sleep apnea, snoring, and other sleep conditions easy with at-home sleep tests, online scheduling, and a secure telemedicine portal where you can reach a professional at anytime.
While essential oils are a safe, convenient, and natural way of treating sleep apnea, each individual case is different. Consulting with one of our specialists will help you determine and understand your situation while offering a personalized treatment plan designed with your individual needs and comfort being the first priority.
Suffering from sleep apnea, snoring, or insomnia? Interested in the usage of essential oils? We’re here to help you in every way possible, so you can have the best night’s rest and be successful. You can schedule an appointment online or call us at (703) 689-2480 for a free consultation. Keep in mind that you will be asked to use the app Snorelab to monitor your sleeping patterns prior to your appointment.