Stress, Sleep, Melatonin and Essential Oils

Essential Oils Promote sleep
Stress leads to a lack of sleep, irritability, impatience and a very short temper in many cases. The link between stress and lack of sleep is now medically accepted – almost unquestionable – and so those of us who do feel severe stress from the impacts of jobs we hate, bosses who grind us down, insensitive spouses, uncontrollable children and maybe worst of all, money problems, need to think clearly about the impact on our lives and what we can DO to make things better.

Lack of sleep can result in generally impaired performance socially and at work which can drive us into a death-spiral of ever diminishing capacity to cope, worsening performance and further stress…we’ve GOT to break that cycle.

A recent meta-analysis of more than a dozen European cohort studies reported that job strain is extremely common, with prevalence rates of 13% to 22%.2 Clearly articulated theoretical models and measurement tools, combined with existing longitudinal cohort studies, have contributed to a wealth of data on the causes and consequences of job strain.

The journal SLEEP showed a reciprocal association between job strain and sleep over a two-year period. I quote:

The reciprocal link between work demands and disturbed sleep described by Åkerstedt and colleagues highlight the inextricable nature of the stress-sleep relationship. While observational and experimental studies suggest that psychological stress can disrupt sleep, an emerging literature suggests that disturbed sleep may also contribute to psychological stress. For example, short sleep duration and experimental sleep deprivation have both been associated with emotion dysregulation and increased physiological reactivity to stress. In early theoretical work that has received strong empirical support in the ensuing decades, Arthur Spielman identified reactivity to stress as a key individual difference in vulnerability to insomnia.”

Some people recommend strong drugs for this, and I will never go against the word of a qualified medical professional – I can’t afford the insurance! However, even medical professionals do generally accept the need to avoid strong drugs except as a last resort. This site is all about natural relaxation using Essential Oils, Massage and other natural therapies, but there is one site (it’s one of mine), called Insomniactive that has a whole range of tips on the sue of the natural substance melatonin as a gentle aid to sleep. Taking melatonin isn’t as pleasant and relaxing as aromatherapy, but it does help you to sleep!

Essential Oils to Break the Cycle

Essential Oils are known to provide significant health benefits, used within aromatherapy, massage and even in food (caution!!!). In the area of sleep, I suggest that whilst simply becoming less tense and stressed can help greatly, and Essential Oils are well-known stress-breakers!

Lavender Essential Oil for Stress and Sleep

Researchers have concluded that conclude Lavender essential oil can aid in achieving significantly improved sleep, relief from anxiety and sometimes Lavender can have a pronounced antidepressant effect.

The most active ingredients in lavender are Linalool and Linalyl Acetate. Lavender oil both diffused and applied to the skin is absorbed in the bloodstream. Although it seems that it will work even if you don’t smell it (and it would be hard not to!), I personally think that the beautiful odor is a big part of any treatment, and maybe the most important psychological component.

According to Robert Tisserand in “Essential Oil Safety”, oral ingestion of an essential oil increases absorption by about 10 times compared to topical application. He notes that lavender is non-toxic and non-sensitizing.

Summarising, we should note that:-

Lavender essential oil is safe for ingestion up to 160mg/day ~ about 4 drops – BUT check with a medically qualified person before ingesting anything!
Lavender essential oil can  significantly improve sleep quality.
Lavender can be effective as an anti-depressant

So there it is!

One more thing – if you’re going to try essential oils, do try the Mystical Breath Diffuser – it’s brilliant!