Aroma Therapy For A Good Night’s Sleep

How Do We Sleep

Sleeping WolfIn today’s world of stress and anxiety many people are suffering from insomnia or restless sleep. A warm cup of milk, a relaxing meditation or even the soothing sounds of a gentle surf playing on your stereo can help ease tension. But sleep doesn’t often bring relief for everyone. Some people take their fears and tears into the night and play them out through dreams. Restless dreams or nightmares can be just as disruptive as no sleep at all. While analyzing your dreams might be helpful to resolving issues, sometimes you simply want a good nights sleep, a nice deep refreshing sleep!

Learning a little about the mechanics of sleep may help in understanding how we affect ourselves during the day and create bad sleeping patterns at night. Which is kind of circular in its process. Deep in your brain you have a “Master Clock” that coordinates a series of biological clocks that exist throughout your body. The biological clocks are a grouping of interacting molecules in the cells through out your body. These biological clocks control the Circadian rhythms, which are found in most living things. Including animals, plants and many tiny microbes. Circadian rhythms are physical, mental and behavioral changes that follow a roughly 24-hour cycle, responding primarily to light and darkness in an organism’s environment.

While they are controlled by the biological clocks, they are also influenced by the “Master Clock” which also controls the production of melatonin, a hormone that makes you sleepy. Melatonin is produced in the pineal gland in the center of your brain. It’s this hormone that helps to regulate the body’s circadian rhythms. Those are daily rhythms such as your sleep-wake cycle. The levels of melatonin in the blood are highest prior to bedtime.

Here in the states many people maybe more familiar with melatonin and those much needed naps after a large Thanksgiving turkey dinner. Turkey is high in melatonin and it can trick the body into thinking it’s bedtime as it’s ingested.

Circadian rhythms have been linked to various sleep disorders, such as insomnia and disrupted sleep-wake cycles. Abnormal circadian rhythms have also been associated with depression, bipolar disorder and seasonal affective disorder.

Alternative Solutions / Remedies

Before you run out and buy an over the counter medication or supplement, you might try a natural remedy first. There are many ‘old wives’ tales that say they help promote a good night’s sleep.

  • A cup of warm milk before dinner. Calcium has long been known to promote sleep and this is one of the first old remedies on anyone’s list.
  • Having a plain piece of turkey or plain turkey sandwich an hour before bed can induce sleep.
  • Chamomile is a popular herbal sleep remedy that’s been used for centuries. This herb also has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. German chamomile is best taken as a tea.
  • Have a cup of Green tea 30 minutes before bedtime. Green tea contains an amino acid called L-theanine which not only helps maintain a calm alertness during the day but also a deeper sleep at night. Most green teas do not contain enough L-theanine to be effective however. A brand called Suntheanine, which is pure L-theanine.
  • Lettuce with dinner can be calming. Both lettuce and cucumbers are ruled by the moon. Wild lettuce is also effective at calming restlessness and reducing anxiety and may even help reduce the pain associated with restless legs syndrome. 
  • Beer fans will no doubt be familiar with the calming effect of hops, the female flowers used in beer making. For sleep purposes, this extract has been widely used as a mild sedative for anxiety and insomnia for decades if not centuries. A small glass an hour before bedtime can help aid in relaxation and promote getting to sleep.
  • Gentle Yoga and meditation one hour before bedtime can help to release stress and anxiety. Both are used for mental clarity and psychological sleep issues. 
  • Lavender has been proven to aid in sleep. This narcotic non-toxic herb can add a wonderful scent to your bed sheets or pillow. Find a real lavender spray on a sachet that you can add to your linen closet and scent your sheets. Or spray a small amount directly on your bed and pillow.
  • Aroma pillows create a fragrant sleep aid. But it’s also great in the bath. A little camomile, lavender, or lemon in a warm bath before bed can relieve aching muscles and promote relaxation for sleep.
  • Lavender Eye PillowEye pillows masks. These are wonderful little things! I love mine! These are little pillows, often stuffed with lavender and various other herbs. Placed over the eyes, they gently weigh down the eye lids and help induce quicker sleep. Their aroma goes to work and the lavender fragrance promote deep sleep. If you’re interested in making your own, I suggest the Learning Herbs Eye Pillow.

Warnings:
Kava, also known as kava kava, is an herbal remedy that’s used for stress and anxiety relief and insomnia. While kava has some sedative properties, it is now considered unsafe. Reports in Europe of more than 20 cases of cirrhosis, hepatitis, and liver failure suggest the possibility of liver toxicity associated with its use.

Soap, skin lotions, shampoos or styling products containing tea tree oil and lavender oil have been linked with temporary breast enlargement in young boys, a condition known medically as prepubertal gynecomastia. The National Institutes of Health conducted additional studies and reports that tests showed both oils may boost estrogen, the female hormone that stimulates breast growth, and inhibit androgens, the hormones that inhibits breast tissue growth.

Creating an Aroma Pillow
Aroma pillows are a popular alternative to ingesting remedies, because of the potential harm some homemade or self prescribed supplements can cause.  But be careful what kind of herbs you place in your pillows. Some herbs can produce a strong fragrance and cause morning headaches. Those with pollen allergies or asthma should be extra careful in selecting their herbal mixtures.

Chamomile, hops, passion-flower, lemon balm, and ashwagandha are other herbs that are often used for insomnia.

There are two pillow recipes that I’ve found very helpful. They’re easy to make and you can tweak the size and shape of the pillow to your own personal preferences.

Sleep Pillow
This pillow helps to promote deep sleep.

  • ¼ yard cheese cloth. Fold and sew into a square to desired size. Leave one side open for herbal ingredients.
  • ½ cup chamomile flowers
  • ½ cup rosemary leaves
  • ½ cup pine needles
  • 1 cup lavender flowers
  • 2 tblspoon lemon verbena leaves
  • ½ teaspoon oil of lavender
  • Combine ingredients and fill cheese cloth square.
  • Sew the opened side of your pillow closed.
  • Slip it inside any washable pillowcase

Dream Pillow
This pillow helps to promote dreams

  • ¼ yard cheese cloth. Fold and sew into a square to desired size. Leave one side open for herbal ingredients.
  • ½ cup mugwort leaves
  • ½ cup lavender flowers
  • ½ cup spearmint or peppermint leaves
  • 2 tblspoon thyme leaves
  • 2 tablespoon rosemary leaves
  • Combine ingredients and fill cheese cloth square. Sew the opened side of your pillow closed.
  • Slip it inside any washable pillowcase

Sleep well and sweet dreams

 © 2012 Springwolf, D.D., Ph.D. Springwolf Reflections / Spring’s Haven, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

2 thoughts on “Aroma Therapy For A Good Night’s Sleep

  1. I take Kava Kava regularly and have studied the topic of it being banned and unsafe. It is only another conspiracy theory by the FDA and big pharma because so many people were taking it and it was working for them. The outcome of the studies that were done showed Kava Kava could not be directly blamed for any liver toxicity, there were other factors also responsible. Also, the actual number of liver toxicity cases was only a tiny fraction compared to the number of persons taking it. I have no doubt that a handful of people did experience liver toxicity from Kava Kava. And so have people taking asprin, tylenol, antibiotics, and just about everything else.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience. I suggest anyone interested in Kava Kava talk with their physician and request monitoring for a few months to ensure they are not affected adversely. Remember you have patient/doctor privileged and it’s much better to be safe, than to be sorry later.

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