How to sleep: Inhale this sweet-smelling fragrance before bed to promote sleep

Sleep deprivation is a widely held grievance, with many people accustomed to the ill effects. Sleep loss does more to the body than merely producing an irritable temperament, however. It can spur on chronic conditions and shorten your life expectancy.


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Correcting your body clock can seem like a tall order but evidence shows that the answer is often surprisingly simple.

Like most ailments, mother nature usually holds the key, and an encouraging body of evidence links essential oils to improved sleep quality.

What is the most effective essential oil you can buy?

Evidence mostly points to lavender oil to aid sleep loss.

A systematic review evaluating the effects inhaling various essential oils had on the sleep cycle, signalled lavender oil for its sleep-inducing properties.

Speaking to the, Dr Deborah Lee, Dr Fox Online Pharmacy provided a slew of studies that demonstrate the benefits of consuming lavender oil for an improved night’s sleep.

“Lavender has been shown to improve sleep in various, small studies of people with sleep-related problems,” reported Dr Fox.

For example, inhaling lavender was beneficial for sleep in a group of 15 healthy college students, a group of 64 people suffering from ischaemic heart disease, and a group of 34 middle-aged women suffering from insomnia.

In another study, 10 individuals with insomnia, used six to eight drops per night of lavender oil via an Aromasteam device (a device that merges distills oil into steam).

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The results showed a 2.5 point reduction on the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) insomnia score.

The PSQI is an effective instrument used to measure the quality and patterns of sleep.

Furthermore, in a study published in the journal The Lancet, four geriatric patients dependent on benzodiazepines (a sedative) suffered from rebound insomnia when their medication was stopped.

Aromatherapy with lavender oil restored their previous sleeping habits.


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How does lavender oil aid sleep loss?

According to Dr Fox, evidence shows that inhalation of lavender increases the percentage of deep – or slow-wave – sleep.

In women, lavender usage increased the percentage of stage two – light sleep, and decreased REM sleep, in one study.

“Slow-wave sleep is deep sleep which is especially good for boosting your mental and physical health,” explains Dr Fox.

She continues: “REM sleep is the time in the sleep cycle when the thalamus is active. This is when dreams occur.”

According to Dr Fox, a lowering of REM sleep might be a sign of a resting brain.

When REM sleep is reduced, this is often coupled with longer periods of deeper, slow-wave sleep, she said.

All those who had used a lavender patch in one study reported feeling more energetic in the mornings which may reflect an improvement in the sleep-wake cycle, Dr Fox concludes.

Lavender oil can be inhaled during aromatherapy, added to bath products, applied to the skin as a massage oil, or taken orally as a capsule.

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