Does Lavender Help You Sleep?

Many scents help you sleep, but none are as popular as lavender. 

But is it true that lavender helps you sleep? 

In this article, you will find the answer. 

After reading, you will know how to use essential oils for sleep, including lavender. 

You will have a scientific understanding of how lavender works. 

Also, we will give you practical tips, including where to put essential oils for sleep and the various applications of lavender.

What is lavender?

The scientific name of lavender is Lavandula angustifolia. However, there are many other species of the genus Lavandula, most of which are taken as lavender.

This plant is popular in alternative medicine as a remedy for anxiety. Lavender odor has a soothing quality that helps quiet the mind, especially when combined with breathing exercises. It is also available as an essential oil for sleep, one of the most popular uses nowadays.

You can definitely use lavender to relax. But is there anything in lavender flower buds that trigger this response? Does it really work?

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Does lavender help you sleep?

Lavender is usually ranked first among the list of plants that induce sleep. Indeed, smelling lavender can be quite pleasing. But the same can be said of other natural aromas. So, does lavender make you sleepy for real?

According to clinical trials in humans, it does. For instance, a study of postmenopausal women used a test called Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index to measure sleep problems. 

Women took the test and then received aromatherapy with lavender or a control infusion. The lavender group significantly improved the Sleep Quality Index score (1). 

Another study evaluated the effectiveness of lavender in inducing sleep. The researchers used lavender capsules and compared their results with placebo capsules. After using the same Sleep Quality Index score, they also found that people slept more pleasantly with lavender (2).

A third study also found significant improvements, this time in elderly patients. All subscales of the index score improved, including overall sleep quality, sleep efficiency, sleep latency, and sleep disturbances. 

The patients needed fewer sleep medications and did not experience rebound insomnia. After reviewing the evidence, we can say that lavender helps with sleep problems, and it is superior to a placebo (3).

Even a research paper compared the effects of lavender to those of Valium. Of course, lavender won’t give you the side effects and grogginess caused by this medication (4)

Why does lavender help you sleep?

Have you experienced the effects of lavender essential oils for sleep and anxiety? Lavender scent reaches the bloodstream through inhalation, transported by smell receptors. They have volatile components with an application to the human brain. 

The relaxation effect can be immediate or take a while to be processed. In some cases, it can even reduce anxiety levels.

But how does lavender help you sleep? It helps through the main components, linalool, lavandulol, coumarin, and terpinen-4-ol. 

Studies suggest a few mechanisms of action in the central nervous system (4,5):

  • It blocks acetylcholine secretion in the brain. This is a neurotransmitter that is very active during the cognitive process. By blocking transmission, the brain becomes silent and ready to sleep.
  • It interacts with gamma-aminobutyric acid receptors. These receptors in nerve cells inhibit neuron transmission. Lavender helps you fall asleep by reducing the noise in the brain.

By changing brain chemistry, lavender can also promote changes in brain waves and produce a chain reaction that helps you fall asleep

It also has anticonflict effects in family crises because it calms down reactivity in a problematic situation. As such, it is considered adjuvant therapy for sleeping problems, anxiety, and other stress-related ailments.

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How to use lavender for sleep

Lavender has been noticed to produce relaxation for centuries. Only recently has it become famous as a mood lifter, sleep inducer, and stress buster. It has also been used to reduce stress, anxiety, and even pain perception.

You don’t need a prescription to obtain lavender oil for sleep or any other lavender product for sleeping. But once you buy your bottle, how can you use it more efficiently?

Diffusing

The most common use is diffusing lavender and using it as aromatherapy for sleep. Put some lavender essential oil drops in the diffuser and add water.

Lavender essential oils for sleep

You can also apply lavender essential oils directly to your skin. It won’t burn or cause any side effects in most people. 

If you notice a rash, it is probably due to allergies. Discontinue its use and consult your doctor. 

That won’t happen in most cases, and you can apply a few drops diluted in a carrier oil. You can also get creative and make a lavender spray for sleeping or a lavender body lotion.

Massage oil

Blend a few drops with a carrier oil, and you will have an excellent lavender massage oil. You’ll probably doze off in a few minutes if you receive a massage with this aroma.

Hot baths

Hot baths are excellent for promoting sleep because they regulate body temperature. Adding lavender will also contribute to the experience. In most cases, 6 to 8 drops are more than enough for a bathtub.

Lavender pills

There are also lavender pills for sleep. The benefit of taking lavender capsules is that you can have better control over the dose, and it goes more directly into your system. 

Can you eat lavender essential oil? 

We don’t recommend eating the essential oil unless you read a clear specification. The answer depends on the brand and the manufacturing process.

Where to put lavender for sleep

Another question people ask very often is where to put lavender oil for sleep.  Here’s a list of ideas:

  • You can spray some lavender under your sheets. Lavender essential oils on pillowcases can help a lot with sleep problems. You can crush dried lavender flowers and place them in a sachet under the bed linens.
  • You could also use it in laundry detergents if your problem is generalized anxiety and stress. 10 to 20 drops will be enough for a bottle of laundry fragrance.
  • If you have an air conditioning device, you can also use two or three drops on the filter. This will give you a fresh aroma for many hours throughout the room. It is also a good idea for your car.
  • Another interesting choice would be cleaning your house with lavender essential oils. You can mix vinegar, water, and lavender to create your own surface cleaner.

How much lavender do I take to sleep?

Lavender is one of the best essential oils for sleeping. But how much of it do you need to sleep? 

Using essential oils works almost the same regardless of the effects you want to achieve. Dose changes will only give you a stronger or weaker aroma. The number of recommended drops depends on the quality of the essential oil you are using.

In most cases, you will only need two or three drops in a standard diffuser. 

If you’re taking a bath with lavender, you may need around six to eight drops in the bathtub water. 

If you’re making a lavender spray, use five drops for a water bottle. After this, if the scent is still not noticeable, you can always increase one or two drops at a time. The same applies to all other aromatherapy oils for sleep.

Lavender for sleeping and anxiety is also offered in capsule form. One of the studies mentioned above used 500 milligrams for every capsule. Their capsules contained a blend of bitter orange and lavender flowers, and patients took only one every night. The study was successful and did not report any side effects. Thus, up to 500 mg of lavender sounds like a safe and effective dose.

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3 health benefits of lavender

The health effects of lavender are not only related to sleeping and relaxing. This essential oil can also be useful for various health problems and applications. For instance (6):

Lavender promotes healing and has antimicrobial benefits

Like other herbs, lavender contains substances that protect the plant against microbes. Otherwise, it won’t survive in the wild. These substances are also active in humans and give lavender antimicrobial and antifungal effects. 

This can be one of the reasons why lavender has been found beneficial for wound healing. It keeps the wound clean and promotes faster repair. It also has antioxidant properties and protects the affected tissues from free radical damage. 

Lavender also has other applications for the skin, and some patients with alopecia report an improvement in baldness after using it topically.

Lavender can also treat different types of pain

Pain and emotion are closely linked to one another. In some cases, negative emotions can increase the sensation of pain or cause new symptoms in a given patient. 

By soothing one’s mood, lavender can also reduce pain perception. This benefit has been applied in surgery, recovery after surgery, dental treatments, and premenstrual syndrome in women. 

It is beneficial to treat migraines, mainly when they are triggered or worsened by emotional factors.

Lavender may provide some protection against diabetes-related conditions

Studies also suggest that lavender protects the organism against sudden rises in blood glucose in patients with diabetes. These essential oils may also protect from metabolic imbalances and can affect weight gain when associated with binge eating and anxiety. 

It is also suggested that lavender essential oils protect against liver and kidney disease. However, these claims are yet to be tested before adopting lavender to treat or prevent these conditions.

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Tips to improve your sleep

Essential oils for better sleep

Besides lavender essential oil for sleeping, you can also have a blend of many other fragrances. They work similar to lavender and can provide significant improvements in sleep parameters.

Chamomile essential oil

It is known to reduce stress levels and anxiety. Chamomile’s sleep-enhancing properties are caused by its sedative effects, which are also available in infusions.

Cedarwood essential oil

Similar to lavender, this one is also a mood lifter. It works excellent with accumulated stress and negative emotions.

Sandalwood essential oil

This particular essential oil promotes non-REM sleep. It also reduces the propensity to wake up in the middle of the night.

Bergamot essential oil

This essential oil lowers blood pressure levels and slows your heart rate. It provides the calming effect you need to wind down after a long day at work.

Marjoram essential oil

If your problem is not getting asleep but remaining asleep all night long, marjoram essential oil is recommended as a blend with lavender.

Peppermint oil

This is not your typical choice, but it is still a good one if you want to clear your head before going to sleep. It also provides a fresh environment in your room to promote relaxation when it is hot, and you can’t do much about it.

Lifestyle changes

If you still have not seen improvements after blending essential oils, it is probably because there’s a more profound problem to attend to. In such cases, there’s usually a problem with sleep hygiene. Your habits and lifestyle may need a slight change.

Simple recommendations can make a big difference. For instance:

  • Waking up and going to bed at the same hour.
  • Getting a comfortable mattress and pillow.
  • Sleeping with soft clothes and bedding.
  • Lowering room temperature in summer.
  • Choosing relaxing activities and dimming the lights one hour or two before bed.

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Conclusion

In a nutshell, is lavender good for sleeping? It is actually one of the best essential oils for sleep. 

Human studies show that the simple act of sniffing lavender can improve almost all sleep parameters. The effect is superior to placebo, and some authors have even compared it to the drug Valium.

It is available in the form of essential oils, pills to be taken orally, aromatic candles, and many other products. 

It does not require a prescription and has no recorded side effects. However, allergies can be triggered by almost any substance, including lavender. 

If you ever use lavender essential oils topically and experience a skin rash, suspend its use immediately, gently wash the area, and talk to your doctor.

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Sources

  1. Gholamalian, F., Tadayon, M., Abedi, P., & Haghighizadeh, M. H. (2015). The effect of lavender aromatherapy on sleep quality in postmenopausal women. The Iranian Journal of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Infertility, 18(157), 18-25.
  2. Kamalifard, M., Farshbaf-Khalili, A., Namadian, M., Ranjbar, Y., & Herizchi, S. (2018). Comparison of the effect of lavender and bitter orange on sleep quality in postmenopausal women: a triple-blind, randomized, controlled clinical trial. Women & health, 58(8), 851-865. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28749734/
  3. Faydali, S., & Çetinkaya, F. (2018). The effect of aromatherapy on sleep quality of elderly people residing in a nursing home. Holistic nursing practice, 32(1), 8-16. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29210873/
  4. Harada, H., Kashiwadani, H., Kanmura, Y., & Kuwaki, T. (2018). Linalool odor-induced anxiolytic effects in mice. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 241. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6206409/
  5. Roozbeh, N., Ghazanfarpour, M., Khadivzadeh, T., Kargarfard, L., Dizavandi, F. R., & Shariati, K. (2019). Effect of lavender on sleep, sexual desire, vasomotor, psychological and physical symptom among menopausal and elderly women: A systematic review. Journal of menopausal medicine, 25(2), 88. ​​https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6718645/
  6. Sharma, L., Chandra, M., & Puneeta, A. (2020). Health benefits of lavender (Lavandula angustifolia). International Journal of Physiology, Nutrition and Physical Education, 4(1), 1274-1277.

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