The dreaded ceiling stare. We’ve all been there—pleading with our minds in the middle of the night to let us get some sleep. Tossing and turning is never fun, and restless nights aren’t planned. They just happen. Turning off your brain can be difficult, but there are things you can try to make the process easier.
Preparation should start well before your head hits the pillow. You’re probably familiar with the obvious solutions like avoiding digital screens and caffeinated beverages before bed. But there are also a few lesser-known natural solutions to nighttime restlessness that your routine can benefit from.
One such solution lies in the well-known scent of lavender. (In fact, we recently compiled nine surprising things that can help you fall asleep, and lavender was one of them.)
Most of us know lavender’s powerful fragrance from perfumes, shampoos, and even body wash. But lavender is also known as the secret scent of sleep. Its aroma is incredibly soothing and has been proven to improve sleep quality, relax the body, and even improve moods.
Can lavender be the sleep aid you’ve been looking for? Here’s what we know about how lavender affects sleep.
1. Lavender increases the amount of deep sleep we get
Wesleyan University studied the effects of lavender on men and women. The study found inhaling the lavender scent before bed increased the percentage of deep sleep, also known as slow-wave sleep (SWS), in both men and women. Our bodies need deep sleep because that’s where we recharge, heal, and detox. If you don’t get enough deep sleep, your immune system can be weakened. Set up an essential oil diffuser in your bedroom to infuse the scent of lavender into the air and encourage deep sleep.
2. Lavender can ease stress
Bath time can be stressful for a lot of parents. A study on the effects of lavender bath oil on infants revealed that the plant can be the secret ingredient to a more relaxing nighttime routine. In addition to spending a greater percentage in deep sleep, the infants exposed to lavender oil spent less time crying post-bath and prior to sleep. Lavender oil wasn’t just beneficial for the babies, though: The mothers, in turn, were more relaxed and smiled a greater percentage of the time.
3. Lavender increases stage 2 sleep
We spend most of our time in stage 2 sleep, or light sleep. It’s where we dream, and even where we transfer short-term memories into long-term memories. It’s also where we’re most likely to be disturbed/woken. Lavender is a great option for those who tend to be restless and wake up with any slight disturbance. Dab a bit of lavender oil on your wrists or behind your ears before you go to bed to keep the scent close.
4. Lavender eases anxiety
Another study from a University in Thailand on the effects of inhaling lavender oil revealed that it can decrease blood pressure, heart rate, and skin temperature. The study showed that the subjects who inhaled lavender categorized themselves as fresher and more relaxed.
It’s important to note that lavender is not a magical cure for sleep. But using lavender when you’re also practicing good sleep habits could be just what you need for a great night’s sleep. For another sleep solution, read up on the science behind how white noise helps you sleep.