Do you struggle with anxiety? Does your anxiety keep you awake at night? There are many options for treating anxiety disorders and alleviating symptoms of anxiety to help you sleep better, but arguably one of the best ways to manage your anxiety in a safe, healthy way is through essential oils.
Do you ask yourself ” Is my anxiety keeping me awake at night?” or ” Does stress keep me from sleeping at night?”
This article will help you gain some more insight into the world of essential oils and just what they can do for your anxiety, sleep health and overall health. We will also feature a list of some of the best essential oils to use for anxiety and that will help you get a better night’s rest.
Anxiety: How Does it Affect Your Sleep?
Stress often presents itself at night and can keep you from falling asleep and/or getting quality sleep. If you find you can’t “shut off” your thoughts at night, and it’s keeping you awake, anxiety may very well be affecting your sleep.
Anxiety and sleep are yet another two-way street, and it can be hard to determine whether you are anxious from being tired or if you’re tired from being anxious.
Anxiety can cause sleep deprivation and sleep disorders or enhance existing ones, but on the flip side, a lack of sleep can also cause or enhance anxiety disorder.
What Are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are highly concentrated liquids that are extracted from various plants. True essential oils are created through the process of distillation, which helps the oil to retain the plant’s essence, or its scent and flavor. Essential oils are considered “volatile” compounds. Volatility simply refers to how readily a substance vaporizes; essential oils evaporate easily, and therefore are volatile.
The chemical compounds in essential oils react with your body’s inner workings and systems in different ways. For instance, 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.
Most often, essential oils are used for aromatherapy, in which the oil’s aroma is inhaled, but they offer many other benefits and can be used in other ways. An oil can also be applied topically, while a few are even safe to ingest.
Continuous research shows that essential oils can also have medicinal benefits when the chemical compounds are absorbed into the bloodstream.
Benefits of Essential Oils
Essential oils can be used for just about anything, from healing bug bites to alleviating symptoms of various diseases.
A major use for essential oils, though, is actually for relieving anxiety. One of the most common forms of anxiety is caused by normal stress, and it’s something everyone struggles with from time to time.
In addition, anxiety disorder is actually the most common mental health disorder in the United States. While severe cases of anxiety disorder should be handled by a psychiatrist and possibly treated with medication, essential oils can be incredibly helpful for alleviating those feelings of daily stress you might get before a presentation or while dealing with finances. They can also be used in conjunction with medication to help treat diagnosed anxiety disorders.
How to Use Essential Oils
Essential oils are used in two ways, usually: through inhalation (aromatherapy) or topical use. Because essential oils are so volatile, whenever you use one, it creates a vapor around you that you can inhale.
When inhaling this vapor, particles go to two places: your sinuses, where there are nerve receptors from your brain, and your lungs.
The vapor in the sinuses is absorbed into your brain tissue and can impact things like memory, emotion, and the lymphatic system which connects to heart rate and blood pressure.
The vapor in the lungs gets absorbed into the bloodstream and reacts with your endocrine (hormonal) system, which affects how your body responds to stress.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, does not regulate essential oils. It’s important to do your research on the brand of oils and make sure you use therapeutic-grade oils. We recommend Doterra Brand Essential Oils.
If you use essential oils topically, you should definitely dilute them with a carrier oil, like coconut, almond, or jojoba oil. For adults, 1 ounce of carrier oil should be used to dilute every 15 drops of essential oil. This helps to prevent skin irritation.
19 of the Best Essential Oils for Anxiety
There are so many different essential oils that have benefits when it comes to anxiety disorders and stress. Almost any citrus oil can be mood-boosting and stress-relieving, and just about any essential oil is soothing in its own way. We have curated a list of 19 essential oils most effective for reducing anxiety.
Bergamot oil comes from Bergamot oranges. Studies have shown that Bergamot helps to relieve anxiety and improve mood.
Bergamot oil, as well as other citrus oils, may increase sun sensitivity when used topically.
How to use: Place a few drops of oil onto a cotton ball/round or tissue and inhale the aroma deeply two or three times.
Chamomile oil is derived from the chamomile flowers, which is known for its soothing properties. Some research shows that chamomile supplements can be useful for those dealing with mild to moderate generalized anxiety disorder. It also is beneficial to improving sleep.
How to use: Dilute chamomile oil with a carrier oil, then massage into skin or add to a warm bath.
Clary sage oil is extracted from the flowering herb that is native to the Mediterranean Basin. The oil has a woody, herbal oil. Because of its soothing properties, clary sage is often used as an aphrodisiac.
Clary sage can ease tension and help manage women’s cortisol levels, which is the stress hormone that promotes anxiety and depression.
How to use: Inhale aroma directly or dilute the oil and massage into skin.
Fennel is best known for its flavor, which is used in many recipes. In addition to adding flavor, it can improve many anxiety side effects, like digestive problems. It may also be helpful in treating anxiety that is related to menopause.
How to use: Add the diluted oil to a warm bath to promote relaxation.
Frankincense oil is made from the resin of the Bosweilla tree. Its sweet, musky aroma is believed to have many different benefits, including that of easing anxiety.
How to use: Massage diluted oil into the hands and bottoms of the feet, or add to a diffuser.
Geranium oil is derived from the geranium plant. Inhaling its scent may reduce anxiety and can even decrease diastolic blood pressure.
How to use: Apply a few drops of oil to a cotton ball and inhale the aroma a few times.
Holy basil, or tulsi, is not the normal basil you use for cooking, but it comes from the same family. Holy basil contains eugenol, which gives it its spicy and minty aroma. According to research, holy basil is promising in treating both physical and mental stress.
How to use: A little of this oil will go a very long way. Add one or two drops to a diffuser and inhale as the diffuser disperses the oil.
Jasmine oil comes from the flower and has a very light, floral scent. Jasmine is known to promote a sense of well-being. What is great about jasmine is that it calms the nervous system without causing drowsiness, unlike many other remedies used for anxiety.
How to use: Inhale the scent from the bottle or add a few drops to a diffuser.
Jatamansi comes from the same family as valerian and has been used in holistic medicine to help calm the mind and promote sleep.
How to use: Massage diluted jatamansi oil into temples or forehead.
A staple in spas, inhaling just a few drops of lemongrass fragrance can reduce tension and anxiety levels almost immediately.
How to use: Inhale directly from the bottle or add to a diffuser.
Marjoram might be better known as oregano, and it is believed to help calm nerves and ease headaches.
How to use: Dilute oil and rub into temples and wrists, or add to a diffuser.
Orange fragrance is shown to help reduce anxiousness and help maintain homeostasis of the endocrine and immune systems.
Using orange oil topically may increase sun sensitivity.
How to use: Dilute and massage into hands, then inhale aroma, or add to a diffuser.
Patchouli comes from the mint family and grows as a bushy herb. It is used in holistic medicine to relieve anxiety, stress, and depression.
How to use: Inhale directly, add to diffuser, or dilute and add to a warm bath.
Rose oil is extracted from rose petals and has a sweet, soothing scent that is known to relax the senses. It is another staple in spas and salons, both for its scent and calming properties.
How to use: Soak your feet in a basin of warm water and diluted rose oil, or add to unscented moisturizer or body butter and massage into skin.
Sweet basil comes from the same basil you use for cooking and is thought to help calm the mind and relieve stress when used for aromatherapy. It contains phenol, a compound proven to help relieve anxiety.
How to use: Add several drops of oil to a diffuser or inhale.
Valerian is another herb, similar to jatamansi, and its usage has dated back to ancient times. It’s believed to contain compounds that promote sleep and soothe nerves, and it may have a sedative-like effect on the body.
How to use: Add a few drops to a diffuser and inhale.
Vetiver oil comes from the grassy plant native to India and has a sweet, earthy scent that is used as an aphrodisiac. Some studies show that vetiver has anti-anxiety abilities similar to the drug diazepam.
How to use: Dilute and massage into skin or add to a diffuser.
Ylang ylang is a staple in aromatherapy that has a floral scent and is believed to help promote relaxation.
How to use: Apply diluted oil to skin, inhale directly, or add to a diffuser.
Lavender is by far one of the most useful essential oils for anxiety and is a staple in aromatherapy. It contains linalool, which has a sedative effect, and helps relax muscles, lower blood pressure and cortisol levels, and increase circulation.
How to use: Add to a warm bath, use in a diffuser, inhale directly, or dilute and rub into chest and neck.
Before Using Essential Oils
As mentioned before, you only want to use true, therapeutic-grade essential oils, so stay away from oils made from chemical processes. Read all the labels and research the production company thoroughly before purchasing any essential oil.
Another good practice to keep in mind before using an essential oil for the first time is to conduct 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 and if you need to worry about a negative reaction. If you experience any abnormal symptoms after trying an essential oil, don’t use it.
Finally, it’s best to consult with a professional before starting the use of essential oils. Most times, treatment requires more than simply using essential oils, but they would be a great inclusion in a treatment plan. Advanced Sleep Solutions of Virginia can give you reliable information on essential oils, help you find the best ones to use for you specifically, and aid you in the process of using them.
Interested in Essential Oils?
If you are interested in essential oils and/or are struggling to sleep due to anxiety and stress, we are here to help! Our highly trained team of sleep professionals here at Advanced Sleep Solutions of Virginia are dedicated to your health and well-being. 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 indeed a safe and natural way to help improve sleep health, every person is different and requires different things. Consulting with one of our specialists will help you determine and understand your situation and needs while being provided with a personalized treatment plan designed specifically for you.
Anxiety or stress keeping you up at night? Interested in essential oils? We’re here to guide you in your health journey! Schedule an appointment online or call us at (703) 689-2480 for a free consultation. Keep in mind that if you struggle with snoring, you may also be asked to use the app Snorelab to monitor your sleeping patterns before coming in for your appointment.