The Importance of Sleep
It’s easy for us to overlook the importance and understanding of sleep as a routine vital to our wellbeing and ability to function. Often times we go to sleep simply because we’re tired and forget that sleep affects our emotions, behaviour, memory, mood, energy, ability to carry out tasks, the health of our organs and more [1, p. 2].
What does sleeping really mean?
Did you know that while you’re asleep, your body is actually restoring itself? While asleep, your body passes through various cycles, each responsible for carrying out a different set of functions essential to the human body. This includes muscle, body and cell repair as well as hormones and appetite regulation . Sleep plays an important role in influencing our emotional, mental and physical health.
According to Health Canada, 1 in 4 adults between the ages 18 to 34 and 1 in 3 adults between the ages of 35 to 64 are not getting enough sleep  . As a broad guideline, the recommended hours of sleep for adults ages 18 to 64 is between 7 to 9 hours per night . Are you getting enough sleep?
How Essential Oils Can Help With Sleep
Exploring the science behind essential oils helps us to understand how different individual oils can be used to support our bodies. Each essential oil is comprised of different chemical constitutes that determine its properties and recommended uses. Below are a few brief examples of different chemical constitutes:
One type of alcohol known as linalool has a floral aroma and sedative properties and can be found in bergamot & lavender essential oil; making both a great choice when it comes to winding down [4, p. 462-3]. Santalol is another type of alcohol that promotes sleep and is found in Sandalwood [1, p.6].
Esters are another group of chemicals that have a soothing and calming effect on our emotions and nervous system. Esters with these properties can be found in bergamot, lavender, chamomile, and ylang ylang [1, p. 6], [4, p. 465].
Ketones also have sedative therapeutic benefits and are found in lavender, roman chamomile, vetiver and more [5, p. 467].
Alcohols, esters, and ketones are just a few chemical components that make up essential oils and create positive reactions within the body. Now let's jump into our top 10 suggested oils to support your sleep.
Top 10 Essential Oils for Sleep
Find our top 10 recommended oils for sleep below. Of course, there are so many more oils that can also be used to help but we are just discussing a few of the most popular ones.
Bergamot has a light, citrus aroma that is known to have calming, emotionally uplifting and sedative properties which may help with insomnia, stress, anxiety and tension [4, p. 46].
Cedarwood has a soft, warm and woody aroma. It is used to help calm anxious feelings (both mental or physical) as well as help one feel grounded before bed [4, p. 54].
For centuries, frankincense has been praised for its diverse set of properties such as the ability to help calm a restless or hyperactive body and mind [4, p. 74]. It can be incorporated into yoga, meditation and journaling practices to bring you balance and concentration.
4. Juniper Berry
Juniper berry promotes a sense of peace and may calm nightmares, fears, nerves, and stress in the body [6, p. 90].
Lavender is probably the most well known essential oil out there and is a staple to any oil collection. It has natural sedative properties and is amazing at promoting relaxation, balance and an overall sense of wellbeing; especially for those experiencing stress, anxiety, depression, and insomnia [4, p. 91].
When it comes to physical discomfort, marjoram is a great essential oil to use in a massage blend before bed. It soothes tired sore muscles and when diffused, has sedative properties [4. p.104], [7, p 23].
Just like a good old cup of chamomile tea before bed, chamomile essential oil is used to soothe your body (nervous system) and mind when it comes to tension, stress, insomnia and mental health [4, p. 122]. It is also gentle enough to be used safely with kids & infants [4, p. 122].
Sandalwood is a fantastic oil to use before sleeping and throughout the day. Not only does it smell wonderful when blended with other oils but it helps to calm and ground racing minds and restless bodies [1, p. 10]. Like frankincense, you can also incorporate this oil into your meditation or yoga routine.
If you are familiar with vetiver, you’ll know that it has an earthy smell and very thick consistency. Vetiver is emotionally grounding and supports your nervous system when it comes to sleeping [4, p. 137]. It may help with insomnia, anxiety, trauma, stress, depression, and hyperactivity among other things [4, p. 137].
10. Ylang Ylang
Ylang Ylang has an uplifting floral aroma that is great for balancing hormones and calming negative emotions including stress, anxiety, depression, sadness, tension and fear due to its antidepressant and sedative properties [4, p. 141].
It’s important to note that essential oils react differently with every body so what works for a friend, may not work as well for you. But that’s okay! It’s all about experimenting to find the best support for you! We’ve rounded up a few of our favourite recipes to incorporate into your evening routine. Feel free to make adjustments to the oils or drop amounts called for in each recipe.
Diffusers (available here) are one of the easiest ways to enjoy the benefits of essential oils and are a must-have for every bedroom! We recommend placing your diffuser within the vicinity of your sleeping area (especially if you have a large bedroom) and turning it on about 30 minutes before you go to bed so the aromas have time to disperse throughout the room.
Feel free to add anywhere between 5 to 10 drops of any essential oil mentioned above, depending on the size of your diffuser tank and how strong you prefer the aroma. Here are a few blends in case you need some inspiration:
4 drops Sandalwood + 3 drops Lavender + 2 drops Bergamot + 1 drop Ylang Ylang
3 drops Bergamot + 2 drops Cedarwood + 1 drop Marjoram
3 Juniper Berry + 3 Lavender + 2 Roman Chamomile + 2 Vetiver (great for kids & babies)
Roller Bottle Blends
We recommend applying these roller blends to the bottoms of your feet, along the back of your neck or to your chest before bed.
8 Lavender + 8 Vetiver + 3 Bergamot + 3 Cedarwood + 3 Ylang Ylang + 3 Juniper Berry
8 drops Lavender + 8 drops Sandalwood + 5 drops Vetiver + 5 drops Copaiba
10 drops Lavender + 10 Cedarwood + 5 Vetiver + 5 frankincense
Nightmare blend (for kids): 2 Juniper Berry + 2 Lavender + 2 Roman Chamomile
Add essential oils to a 10 ml Roller Bottle (available here) and top with your favourite carrier oil like Fractionated Coconut Oil (available here). Carrier oils help to dilute essential oils which are potent when neat (straight from the bottle) and allow your body to better absorb the oils by preventing them from evaporating too quickly off the skin's surface.
Lightly mist your pillow and linens before bed to enjoy fresh aromas that will calm your mind.
8 Sandalwood + 4 Bergamot (or any citrus oil) + 3 Lavender
6 Lavender + 3 Roman Chamomile + 3 Ylang Ylang
10 Sandalwood + 3 Ylang Ylang
Add essential oils to a 60 ml Spray Bottle (available here) along with a few pinches of Epsom salt or ½ a tablespoon of alcohol, like vodka (to act as an emulsifier) and fill the rest with distilled water. We like to top our bottle off with a vinyl label (available here).
Bath & Shower
If you’re one of those people who finds it difficult to start winding down before bed, try a warm and soothing bath to make you feel sleepy. You can even read or listen to a podcast too! Add 3-5 drops of essential oils along with a ½-1 cup of Epsom salt to warm bath water and allow your mind and body to release any stress or tension.
2 Lavender + 1 Ylang Ylang
2 Cedarwood (or Sandalwood) + 1 Bergamot
If you prefer showers, add a few drops of essential oil to the corner of your shower ledge to enjoy the aromas in the steam. You can even add a drop or two of essential oils to your shampoo, conditioner or hair serum.
If you’ve ever been for a massage before, you’ll know just how relaxed you feel afterwards. Before bed, apply this blend and massage your temples, neck, feet, hands, and back (or have someone massage you). Combining your oils with a carrier oil and massaging them in helps to drive them deeper into your skin for better absorption [7, p. 4].
2 drops Lavender + 1 drop Marjoram + 1 drop Ylang Ylang
Restless Leg Syndrome Blend:
If you struggle with Restless Leg Syndrome, then you know how exhausting it can be to get a good night's sleep. These essential oils have antispasmodic and sedative properties to help alleviate discomfort.
10-20 drops of each Peppermint + Wintergreen + Marjoram + Lavender (or Petitgrain)
Going beyond essential oils, there are many things you can do to help your body unwind for bed. One of the most important things for us is setting the right ambiance. Make sure your room is dark, cool, and quiet. Try adding a Himalayan Salt Lamp (available here) in your room and listening to ambient sounds like ocean waves or rain to ease your mind. You can also try a warm cup of herbal tea in the evening but make sure to steer clear of caffeine. Also, be sure to avoid exercising before bed.
And next time you are having an off day, check-in with yourself and see whether or not your quality of sleep could be a contributing factor. There are also ways to track your sleep cycles including hours and levels of sleep using apps such as Sleep Score or any of the fitness trackers available on the market.
We hope these tips can help you out in someway!
DISCLAIMER: The information has not been evaluated by Health Canada or the FDA & is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.
 “The Importance of Sleep,” in Essential Oils and Sleep, dōTERRA., n.d.
 “What Happens When You Sleep?,” What Happens When You Sleep?, n.d
 “Are Canadian adults getting enough sleep?,” Government of Canada, 2019. [Online]. Available: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/healthy-living/canadian-adults-getting-enough-sleep-infographic.html.
 Modern Essentials: The Complete Guide to the Therapeutic Use of Essential Oils, 11th ed. Spanish Fork, Utah: Aroma Tools, 2019.
 The Essential Life, 6th ed. Total Wellness Publishing, 2019.
 Essential Emotions, 8th ed. Salt Lake City, Utah: Enlighten Alternative Healing, 2019.
 My Essential Usage Guide, 2018/2019. Rimer Publications, 2018.