If you'd prefer something a little more low-key, however, you could always turn to essential oils—the ever-so-strong plant and botanical extracts known for their health-boosting benefits (like reducing anxiety and improving mood) and calming scents. Just as these elixirs can lift you up, they're also capable of helping you get a good night's rest. And, never a bad thing: You and your bed will smell amazing.
"Essential oils are great because your body doesn't grow dependent on them," says Kiara Le Blanc, vice president of brand and creative director of Saje Wellness, the quickly growing Canadian natural-beauty store. "As a society, people are too used to the one-pill-and-go approach. This natural alternative has zero side effects, even when used regularly."
While energizing oils include powerful scents like grapefruit and peppermint, the blends that are perfect for bedtime are all about reducing stress and relaxing the body—in other words, they take a more holistic approach to calming you down for sleep.
Since you aren't ingesting them like you would with, for example, melatonin, Le Blanc notes that it's all about applying essential oils the just the right spots. "Either rub them on the bottom of your feet or your pulse points with a carrier blend, or drop into your diffuser," she says. Voila—your room will transform into a dreamy, serenity-now sanctuary.
5 essential oils to turn to for some solid shut-eye
Chances are that when you think of natural extracts that help you sleep, the pretty purple flower is the first that comes to mind. It definitely has a reputation for being an all-natural option when you're powering down at the end of the day, but science backs it up: Researchers have found that lavender calms the nervous system, resulting in a peaceful hitting of the hay. "Lavender's incredible," says Le Blanc. "It's important for sleep regularity."
When it comes to fighting anxiety, chamomile—that soothing white flower—reigns supreme. "This herb counteracts that anxious feeling that happens when you're not sleeping," explains Le Blanc. "The Roman chamomile is anti-inflammatory and very healing."
Though citrus scents are typically energizing, orange actually calms—in fact, its cheery scent is known as an anti-depressant, according to Le Blanc. "That depressive feeling of despair you get when you can't fall asleep is tremendously helped by orange essential oil," she says. "It gives an anti-anxiety effect."
Ever wonder where Valium gets its name? Yep, that would be the perennial flowering plant valerian root. "It's been used for centuries to combat insomnia," notes Le Blanc. "Valerian root's not for relaxing—it's for literally going to sleep, and it's one of the oldest and most-studied herbs for this purpose."
The exotic, earthy grass carries serious benefits when it comes to prepping for bed. "Vetiver's a very grounding essential oil that has an antispasmodic effect," says Le Blanc. "When you're having trouble sleeping, your nerves are not totally relaxed—which is why an oil like this is key." Next step: Sliding into dream land.
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