The Nine Best Essential Oils When You Just Can't Get To Sleep

From vetiver to frankincense, we've got the remedy for those sleepless nights.

Woman lying on her bed with the sun on her face looking at a magazine.
Photo by Leah Kelley from Pexels

If you’re dealing with sleep troubles in this plastic fantastic world, aromatherapy may be just what the Naturopath ordered. We’re not talking energetic medicine here. Sure, vibing on essential oils does often go hand in hand with crystals or sage wielding (two of my favorite pastimes) but the science of aromatherapy is actually very well researched. These babies are the original plant medicine – they contain active constituents that interact with the body in measurable ways. They’re also very safe to use and incredibly luscious to smell. Buckets of research specific to mood and sleep disorders have been done for many oils, in fact, a big part of their magic is in the overlap between these zones. Often a sleep disorder goes hand in hand with stress, depression or anxiety. Keep reading for our favorite essential oils to get you right to sleep! 

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Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

If it were a popularity contest, Lavender would be top dog. This oil is so widely used that we may as well call it – she’s the Beyonce of sleep. Some delightful takeaways for Lavender are:

  • This oil gets the zen zone on tap, making it an excellent choice for anxiety-related insomnia.
  • Some deep breaths of the good stuff can reduce stress and antisocial behavior (even in pets.)
  • It’s been found to specifically increase the deep, restorative sleep stage.

Sweet Orange (Citrus sinensis)

Not to be earmarked as ‘just another stimulating citrus’, Sweet Orange oil likes to live in many directions at once. Yes, it can be uplifting, however – unlike most citrus oils – it is also a calming and balancing oil. It has been found to assist insomnia in several studies like one here and in other news:

  • Sweet orange will reduce worry when inhaled in stressful situations.
  • Tired mums take heart, research from a postpartum specific study says this essential oil will help improve your quality of sleep.

Petitgrain (Citrus aurantium)

We have another citrus that breaking the mold here. Petitgrain is used in Ayurveda for prolonged stress, a condition commonly associated with sleep disruption. It is also:

  • An emotionally harmonizing oil. Used traditionally for trauma, insecurities, and addiction.
  • Petitgrain is believed to strengthen the nervous system, helping to restore peaceful sleep.
  • It’s considered to be an antioxidant, so it will help to protect your body from the stress that’s commonly associated with a sleep disorder.
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Geranium (Pelargonium Graveolens)

This one’s for the ladies. The complete package of hormone balancing in one delightfully calming and stress-free bundle. Some ways it can do this are:

  • By reducing anxiety. There is research to show it even helps women in the stressful, extreme situation of childbirth. Not just a pretty aroma.
  • If cyclical sleep issues are your thing, Geranium is your gal. Researchers found that Geranium essential oil can help reduce symptoms of PMS.
  • It has applications for inflammation, eczema, psoriasis, acne and even aging skin. *douses self in Geranium immediately.*

Atlas Cedarwood (Cedrum Atlantica)

Cedarwood’s calming, woody aroma makes it one of the most grounding essential oils that can help you drift off. It’s effective against insomnia and has other clever uses, including:

Roman Chamomile (Anthemis Nobilis)

Chamomile is a sleepy herb. As a tea it’s historically used to chill on out – and the essential oil works similarly. With proven applications for depression, Chamomile is also helpful for stress and anxiety, making this the trifecta of mood balancers. It can also:

  • Help soothe digestion, so if stress, IBS and sleep issues go together for you, Chamomile should be top of your list.
  • If you’re a frequent waker, there is some evidence to suggest that Chamomile will help reduce the number of times you do this per night

Sweet Marjoram (Origanum Majorana)

Sweet Marjoram works in a few ways to improve sleep. Strengthening and regulating the nervous system is one, dilating blood vessels another. Other specific skills of Sweet Marjoram include:

  • Helping to avoid Shift Work Sleep Disorder (SWD). According to one study of night shift working Nurses, this clever oil – in combination with some others from our Goodnight Blend – improved quality of sleep overall.
  • It’s considered to be cardioprotective. Those of us who don’t get enough sleep are at a higher risk for cardiac disease, so this particular skill is very useful for prevention.

White Frankincense (Boswellia sacra)

It’s got oodles of spiritual connotations and is so broadly applicable it does six impossible things before breakfast. Including ensuring you can achieve a quality night’s sleep, some strong points include:

  • It’s a broad spectrum anti-inflammatory for skin, asthma, and arthritis. If your sleep issues are linked to nighttime discomfort in one of these areas, time to hit up the Frankie.
  • Calming and tranquilizing skills are great but even better – you’ll skip the medication hangover associated with prescription drugs by using Frankincense instead.
  • There’s exciting potential for anticancer properties with Frankie (watch this space).

Vetiver (Vetiveria Zizanioides)

Delightfully woody and smokey, Vetiver brings a grounding tone to this sleepy oil combo. This is a stabilizing nervous system tonic, useful for just about any mood you can throw at it. As well as this:

  • Vetiver is excellent at preventing emotional burnout during periods of prolonged stress.
  • It will reduce anxiety behaviors, so is a great choice for those who struggle to fall asleep due to worry or overthinking.

As you can see, we’ve stuck our fingers in all the sleep pies. You name it, there’s an oil for that. So now that you’ve met the gang, it’s time to try them out as a team. We’re very partial to a blend that can cover a lot of bases, so enter – the new and improved Goodnight Blend. It’s our signature go-to for a restful night’s sleep, which we’ve tinkered with to make even more lovely (and sleepy) with all 9 of these oils.  Get your hands on the upgraded Goodnight Blend here.

Looking for more tips for a good night’s sleep? Head to The Journal to find out more. Read all about Yoga Nidra, the chilled yoga practice that’s more effective than a nap, here

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