How to get sleep: 4 sleep-friendly scents

Having trouble falling asleep? Add some aromatherapy to your nighttime ritual and you'll be in a sweet slumber in no time.

By Robin Heron

Sleep soundly with these four scents
©istockphoto.com/Kasiam
With the demands that come from career, family and friends, it can be difficult to relax – even when the day is over. According to Statistics Canada one in every seven Canadians aged 15 or over reported insomnia symptoms, and it is more common amongst women than men. So, if you find yourself tossing and turning, or staring at the clock as minutes of precious sleep-time slip away, perhaps it's time to add a little aromatherapy to your nighttime routine.

Here are four sleep-friendly scents that are sure to sooth your senses and pave the way to a restful night.

Lavender
Perhaps the most popular soothing nighttime scent, lavender has been recognized as an effective sleep aid through generations of folk medicine, and has been used in soaps, sachets and perfumes for centuries. And now a study at Wesleyan University by Dr. Namni Goel shows that there is a scientific basis to lavender's medicinal properties. The study showed that after smelling lavender essential oil before bed, participants experienced an increased amount of time spent in slow-wave sleep, the restful and restorative sleep phase. Additionally, the study showed that while the lavender helped both men and women get a better sleep, it was more effective in female subjects.
 
To experience the lure of lavender, try adding a few drops of a lavender essential oil to a nighttime bath, or tuck a lavender sachet underneath your pillow.
   
Chamomile
The daisy-like chamomile flowers of both the German and Roman variety produce a sweet apple scent, and can be found in teas, essential oils, and dried sachets. Chamomile is known to ease tension and promote relaxation of both the mind and body, and in addition to working as a sleep-aid, its calming influence has been recommended to ease the emotional symptoms of PMS and menopause.

Inhaling the aroma while sipping a nighttime cup of chamomile tea 30 minutes before bed can set the stage for a peaceful slumber, or place a few drops of chamomile essential oil in an aromatherapy diffuser in your bedroom.

Jasmine
The scent of fragile jasmine flowers may be more famed for its aphrodisiac properties, but historically jasmine has also been prized for its calming sedative effect, and was used to treat depression, stress and anxiety.

Recently, jasmine's sleep-friendly effects were highlighted in a study conducted by Dr. Bryan Raudenbush, assistant professor of psychology at Wheeling Jesuit University. Researchers found that a slight hint of jasmine in the air where study participants were sleeping led to a deeper sleep, and subjects reported increased levels of alertness throughout the next day.

Make your own linen spray by mixing 2 ounces of distilled water and 25 drops of jasmine essential oil in a spray bottle, shaking thoroughly before each use, or try applying a jasmine-scented lotion before bed.

Vanilla
Not just for cookies and cakes, the mouthwatering scent of vanilla has long been recognized for its anti-depressant and tranquilizing qualities, lowering blood pressure and promoting feelings of well being and calm. In fact, in a study by Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York City in the early 90s, patients reported 63 per cent less overall anxiety when undergoing MRI scans when the scent of vanilla was present in the room.
  
Drift off into a sweetly scented sleep with a few drops of essential oil on a handkerchief underneath your pillow. Or, try relaxing sore muscles with vanilla-scented massage oil.


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Read more:
The benefits of a good night's sleep
5 simple steps to a sleep-friendly bedroom
10 ways to improve your Zzzzs




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