In the fast-paced city life we lead, I have often heard people gripe about how little sleep the get or how badly they need a good night's rest. Often, poor quality sleep is a result of stress, anxiety, depression or hormones, which can lead to more chronic problems in the long run. As much as we'd all like to have better quality sleep, many of us are unable to achieve it easily or consistently.
I personally don't experience much stress, depression or hormonal issues but as a full-time mother juggling a home-based business, feeding my insatiable desire to learn new things related to health and holistic matters and meeting new people, I usually find myself struggling to stay awake by the end of the day. By the time I hit the sack I am beyond exhausted. Then I'm up early the next day due to the demands of work and family and the cycle continues. Thankfully I have discovered a way to sleep soundly and wake up more rested despite getting less sleep than I should. If you too want better quality sleep, consider essential oils. They are able to calm and relax you as well as support your body's natural ability to bring back balance.
Essential oils are often referred to as the life-force of plants. Its use has been documented for thousands of years. They are extracted from plant materials through different methods - steam distillation being one of the main ones. They are far more potent than dried herbs, and their molecules are so tiny that one drop, when applied topically on our skin, can permeate our tissues and every single cell in our body.
By learning about the properties of the oils and their effect on different systems of the body you will be able to identify the essential oils suitable for your situation. In this case, we would look for oils that have a calming effect on the nervous system. Some of the most effective ones are Lavender, Roman Chamomile, Neroli, Cedarwood, Bergamot, Valerian, Marjoram, and Ylang Ylang.
Blending two or more oils has a synergistic effect and can actually be more effective than using one oil alone. Once you have selected your oils, the goal is to get them into your body either through the skin (topically) or through the olfactory system (aromatically):
Dilute with a carrier oil (organic, unrefined cold-pressed vegetable oil) and gently massage on the bottom of your feet and legs, wrists, back of your neck, and even your ears. The carrier oil will help the essential oils travel through the skin and enter the bloodstream, where it will circulate and interact with cell receptor sites, enzymes and neurotransmitters.
As you apply the diluted oils to your skin, the odour molecules attach themselves to the olfactory nerves in your nose and impulses are transmitted to the limbic part of your brain - the emotional control centre. This control centre influences stress levels, emotions and hormone balance amongst a myriad of other physiological functions. Be sure to also cup your hands over your nose and mouth and breathe deeply. Using a cold-mist diffuser is also very beneficial. Add a few drops of the oils into the diffuser, sit back and let your senses enjoy. You don't want to heat or burn the oils as this destroys the therapeutic properties of the oils.
A note of caution when choosing essential oils; always be sure to read the labels carefully. Many are adulterated with additives or fillers but are still labeled as pure essential oils, which is extremely misleading. Note that perfume or food grade oils are not pure enough. Find out about the company - make sure it is personally involved in the farming and cultivation process, uses stringent distillation processes, and does a lot of internal and third party testing to ensure purity and potency. Always ask lots of questions. Essential oils work differently for everyone due to body chemistry, so it may take a little experimenting to find your ideal blend, but it'll be so worth it. Wishing you sweet dreams and a restful night's sleep!
Contributor: Audrey Li
Audrey is a certified aromatherapist, jewelry designer and full-time doting mom. She loves learning new skills, crafting new things and meeting people. On occasion she loves to hang up her super-mom cape and travel to new destinations with her girlfriends to recharge. If you'd like to explore the world of essential oils in-depth, Audrey will endeavour to answer your questions or point you in the right direction. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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