Sleeping Problems and some Natural and Aromatic Approaches

Sleeplessness or insomnia is a major problem in our modern, stressful society. Millions and millions of people all over the world suffer from it. Our hectic life style in a modern society with constant demands for better and faster performances, the global media connectedness, disharmonious day and night rythms in general etc. have also left their echoes in terms of sleep deprivation and problems of insomnia all over the world. And the chemical pharma-industry makes billions and billions every year in unison with the medical profession prescribing pills with cruel side-effects which anyway do not touch the underlying causes of this collective dilemma. 

According to the latest INSV survey, almost a third of people in France for example say they have at least one sleep disorder. And especially: Insomnia (16%), sleep rhythm disturbance (17%), restless leg syndrome (5%), sleep apnea syndrome (4%). These disorders particularly affect people between 45 and 65 years of age.

In the US, an estimated 60 million people are suffering from sleep disorders. And one can say in principal scientific research is not even able to fix the real causes of this problem.

Lacking sleep is as if a plant does not get water

Deep restful sleep is part of the alternating patterns of Nature: without good rest no good activity, without sun no moon, the circadian rhythm of day and night are structured in our biological system and influence innumerable reactions on all levels of body, mind and soul.

Of course, it is significant to note that one sleeps on average two hours less than a century ago, one hour and 30 minutes less than fifty years ago and one hour less than twenty years ago. So, over the last decades we have changed a part of our sleeping habits. But is this due to a natural tendency or rather caused by new cultural habits, particularly a more demanding, often more hectic and chaotic life-style? And a life-style where we often expose ourselves to irregular and late sleeping modes with manifold exciting activities before.

And then, waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to ‘fill the cup again to its brim’, and become more or less ‘night owls’ with too many agendas which besiege us in a time when the body screams for real rest. Of course, it is tempting after work to finally focus on our own ‘solitary business’– with the ever-present help of social media. But with what price? Once the sleep rhythm has been turned upside down, it is not easy for many to put it ‘back into shape’ with a lot of physical, emotional stress in the background… 

The medical profession does not really grasp the problem. In general students at medical colleges do not even learn about the possible underlying causes of sleep problems. Nor do they learn about the real potential of natural answers to this. 

Numerous health risks with insomnia

These are some of the health problems linked to insomnia:

  • diabetes
  • obesity 
  • drop in job performance
  • trouble concentrating
  • attention disorders and less memory 
  • reduced vigilance (road, work accidents, etc.)
  • anxiety
  • mood disorders
  • depression
  • cancer
  • heart problems
  • vulnerability to infections, especially those caused by parasites and fungi
  • hormonal imbalance

And the essential oils – can they help?

Some experiences: 

Ylang Ylang

“(I) tried the Ylang Ylang. The first night that I tried it, I slept through the whole night and was well rested the next day. And being a non-believer, I told myself I slept because I was worn out, but the next night I slept even better. Needless to say, I use it every night now and some other oils. And I am now a firm believer in what they can do.”

Cherryl Hayne – CO

“I purchased Ylang Ylang and can say I’ve actually had some great nights of sleep since then (I often wake in the middle of the night and would rarely sleep a full night). Since ‘sniffing’ the Ylang Ylang before I go to bed, I’ve slept through the night and wake more refreshed than in the past. I’ve never been one to take or like the effects of sleeping pills and got to say this is much better.”

Cindy & Nichole – San Bernardino, CA
Lavender

Lavender, Ylang Ylang, Neroli

“The Lavender did, indeed, help me with getting better sleep. I’ve since found it more effective by opening it with a jar of Mandarin. The one that has best helped me with sleep has been Neroli. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve had to go off all caffeine as it was just sticking too long in my system, making sleep difficult. In doing this and in using the above, whenever needed, my sleep is deep. However, when I need some energy, I have found that Ylang Ylang has been absolutely wonderful for this.”

Ruth Dollar – Long Beach, CA

Lavender

“I’ve been taking medication for borderline high blood pressure for a few years. Without medication, my BP is about 140/90. On medication, it’s about 125/80. I started using the Lavender oil (without medication) on July 5. Today, July 10, my blood pressure is 112/72… 

For the past few years, I’ve had to take ibuprofen every night before bed because by the end of the day, I’d feel a dull ache in my legs that I knew would get worse if I didn’t take anything. On my first ‘Lavender oil night’, I decided to skip the ibuprofen and see what the Lavender oil could do to relieve my leg pain. After a while, the pain in my legs dissipated, and I was able to fall asleep (unheard of before the Lavender oil). The best news is that I haven’t had leg pain since that night!”

Mari V.

Essential oils may act like Melatonin

Numerous essential oils, especially those stemming from wood, resins and roots have a bio-chemical structure which releases calming, soothing and even sedating compounds into the blood stream. They activate for example certain centres in the brain which are linked to our emotional, pre-cognitive behaviour. It is not a coincidence that the ‘oldest brain’ which we share with the animals is called ‘rhinocepahalus’ which means ‘smelling brain’. So then, why not use this ancient organ of our central nervous system and access it with the beautiful fragrances of essential oils? People told me that they sleep much better if they have diffused some essential oils in their bedroom some time before going to sleep. 

For example Jasmine oil: Research in 2002 showed that Jasmine oil is a good helper for sleep. Dr Bryan Raudenbush of the Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia, USA, confirmed that those who slept in Jasmine fragranced rooms had a more peaceful night, woke up more refreshed and reported higher alertness in the afternoon of the day. 

Did you know that Sandalwood oil is high in compounds called sesquiterpenes and sesquiterpenols? They stimulate the pineal gland in the brain which creates Melatonin and which is responsible for our day and night rhythm. Melatonin is also a powerful antioxidant and helper for our immune system. Sandalwood has been used since ages for meditation either via fumigation (incense sticks) or, today, via the use of its precious essential oil. One can say that many of the sesquiterpenic oils like Sandalwood oil are a natural alternative for sleeping pills and – not only this – bestow many beautiful positive side-effects to body and mind. 

And keep away from these awful benzo-diazepines which are prescribed worldwide for millions of people every day! It is a real disaster, not only because of the dependency these pills create, but because of many risk factors they carry with them – for example the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease! In a study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), researchers from Inserm Unit 657 confirm that the use of benzo-diazepines for three months or more was associated with an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease after 65 years. The side effects of these benzo-diazepines are beyond description; if at all, they should only be used for a short time when they are needed urgently.  Unfortunately, these figures do not point in this direction: A third of people over 65, nearly 3.5 million people in the US , and almost 40% of those over 85 yers old consume benzo-diazepines and related synthetic drugs every day.

Ylang Ylang

And one important thing:

If you do not fall asleep or you have a pattern of sleeplessness, do not wait for sleep! Any nervous expectation for sleeping will make you less open to fall asleep. 

Better than keep lying in the bed, take a little filtered LED lamp for example next to your side and read something relaxing, uplifting while you are lying. And a drop of Lavender oil on the cushion…

Somehow the sleep will come when you do not wait for it.

And here we go to the sleep medicine of Mother Nature!

Suggestions of essential oils:

According to different plant families we can choose essential oils which help sleeping problems and easily blend oils of these groups together if we want. 

  • Rutaceae (Mandarin, Bergamot, Petitgrain big., Petitgrain mandarin, Lime, bitter Orange, Amyris…)
  • Apiaceae (Angelica, Lovage, Celery)
  • Valerianaceae (Spikenard, Valeriana wallichi (Tagar), Valerian)
  • Lamiaceae (Lavender, Lemon balm, Marjoram, Spearmint, Tarragon, Clary sage, Basil, sweet) 
  • Burseraceae (Frankincense, Palo santo)  
  • Verbenaceae (Lemon verbena, Melissa)
  • Poaceae (Lemongrass, Vetiver)
  • Pinaceae (Cryptomeria japonica, Atlas Cedar, Stone pine)
  • Asteraceae (Roman Chamomile, Angelica root, Helichrysum)
  • Lauraceae (Ravintsara, Litsea)
  • Myrtaceae (Lemon Myrtle, Eucalyptus citriodra)
  • Myristicaceae (Nutmeg)
  • Santalaceae (Sandalwood)
  • Annonaceae (Ylang Ylang)
  • Oleaceae (Jasmine)

Two possible blends which give some hints

BLEND NO. 1

This insomnia synergy acts in various ways on the problems accompanying or causing sleeplessness. It targets the central nervous system with powerful soothing agents, but at the same time bestows tonus and helps detoxifying the physiology from mental, emotional and psychological ‘trash’. 

TRUE LAVENDER oil mainly works on the central nervous system making it a choice oil for problems like insomnia, mental agitation, nervousness, headache, depression, and anxiety. It helps building up alpha-waves in the cortex, associated with deep relaxation.

MARJORAM oil has a known powerful soothing, tranquilizing energy. It gives this blend an uncompromising agent to fight diverse neuro-psychological problems such as neurasthenia, anxiety, obsessions, psychotic upsurge etc. as well as all kinds of stress related agitation or nervousness. 

TARRAGON is a strong neuro-muscular anti-spasmodic. Its soothing energy helps opening the solar plexus, where fears and tensions are accumulating (the famous ‘knot in the stomach’) and  makes it easier to ‘digest’ emotions, opening up the flow between body and mind.

SWEET BASIL’S neuro-regulating properties make it a choice oil against asthenia, nervous disorders of all kinds, stress and anxiety.

VERBENA bestows the high solar energies of the aldehyde group, making it a choice oil against gloomy moods, apathy and depression. It soothes mental agitation and yet builds up concentration power in the mind, enabling us to let loose and cling on at the same time, indispensable for ‘restful alertness’, the so called 4th state of consciousness, associated with profound relaxation.     

LEDUM GROENLANDICUM is major hepatic and kidney detoxifier, but also used in cases of insomnia and nervousness.

VALERIAN WALLICHII is a soft tonifying and soothing agent.

LEMON BALM, with its high solar frequencies acting on the pineal gland, is calming and invigorating simultaneously. It chases away melancholy and disharmonious feelings, reconciling the mind and the psyche with our higher Self.

A few drops to rub on the soles, the forehead, the chest and into the elbow vein  before sleep.

With carrier oils:

Sweet almond oil
All skin types, against dryness, inflammation

Olive oil
Soothing, strengthening, inflamed skin 

Sesame oil
All skin types, nourishing, softening – as base

St. John’s Wort oil
Sore muscles and for nervous conditions

BLEND NO. 2

The ingredients of this Insomnia synergy have been chosen for their direct approach to the problem of insomnia. They can, without any problems, accompany an allopathic medication with sleeping pills and – if applied regularly – reduce or even replace the same medication in a more natural way. 

SPIKENARD from Nepal is an old Ayurvedic plant used since ages for soothing overagitated cerebral activity. It is an excellent neurovegetative harmonizer, neutralizes fears and is a also very helpful for the heart.

PETITGRAIN BIGARADE from the leaves of the Bitter Orange tree serves as a powerful tranquilizer. It also has anti-spasmodic effects and acts in a balancing way on the central nervous system.

PETITGRAIN MANDARIN, a powerful tranquilizer. Just as PETITGRAIN BIGARADE it has anti-spasmodic effects and acts in a balancing way on the central nervous system.

YLANG YLANG (complete distillation) reduces mental and emotional agitation and psychological stress. It bestows tonus to this synergy and at the same time opens and uplifts the mind and calms the heart. Its exotic floral fragrance makes it a ‘joyous’ oil able to chase away sadness and depressed feelings – and it has interesting effects on hypertension.

ANGELICA ROOT is an ancient healer, used in folk medicine of Europe for its sedative and anxiolytic capacity. It has a proven localized action on the nervous system. Angelica helps ‘digest’ hidden negative emotions, making it one of the choice oils against anxieties and abdominal spasms.

VALERIAN, stemming from the same family as Spikenard and famous for its powerful sedating effects,  it is used since old to calm the central nervous system, inducing the psycho-somatic tranquillity necessary for sound sleep.

CELERY SEED oil is an aromatic tonifier for the nerves and helps sedate a restless mind.

NEROLI, precious oil from the flowers of the Bitter Orange tree, has a profound effect on depressed states of mind accompanied by fear and negative emotions. It is also a choice oil for tonifying the nervous system.

A few drops to rub on the soles, the forehead, the chest and into the elbow vein.

With carrier oils:

Sweet almond oil
All skin types, against dryness, inflammation

Olive oil
Soothing, strengthening, inflamed skin 

Sesame oil
All skin types, nourishing, softening – as base

St. John’s Wort oil
Sore muscles and for nervous conditions

And here some personal advice from my own experience with a burn-out kind of insomnia I experienced long ago…

  • Naturally: No discussions, no TV or emotional-intellectual reading 1-2 hours before sleeping
  • Do not force sleeping, let it happen, learn meditation, read light literature (best: spiritual) while lying in bed with a filtered LED lamp
  • Check your pH level and your blood pressure
  • Eat light dinner – no meat, no root vegetables or mushrooms in the evening
  • Use omega oils and algae products 
  • Practice aroma-massage (4 – 5 minutes) morning and evening with soothing essential oils (esp. Sesquiterpene- and Sesquiterpenol oils)
  • Ayurveda:
    Maharishi Ayurveda MA 1401 –  2 Tablets 30 minutes before sleep, also Maharishi Ayurveda ‘Nidra’ is very good – 1-2 Tablets,
    Maharishi Ayurveda 686 – (Ashwagandha) – 1-2 Tablets,
    Sumenta 1-2  Tablets
  • Western medicine: Melatonin – 1 Tablet 3 or 5 mg – 30 minutes before sleeping – in no case Benzo-Diazepine pills!
  • Aromatherapy: Jatamansi, Valerian, Petitgrain Mandarin, Neroli, Petitgrain bigarade, Clary Sage, Marjoram, Hops, Lavender, Sandalwood, Sweet Basil, Tarragon, Ylang Ylang, Ledum, Verbena, Ravintsara…
  • Best: Try out different oils yourself, also in blends… Can be taken also orally – 2 drops 2x/day in honey
  • They can be taken as pillow spray or on a cotton handkerchief to put near the head
  • They can be used as full body massage oil with 3-5 % essential oils in a carrier oil (i.e. Maracuya Oil = super for the night)

A few more recipes

Recipe for kids:

Olfaction:

  • HE Ravintsara: 5ml
  • HE Mandarine: 10ml

Spread the mixture 10 to 15 minutes per hour to benefit from the sedative action of the mixture.

Or Dermal:

  • HE Ravintsara: 2ml
  • HE Pin Patagonia: 1ml
  • Marjolaine HE shells: 1ml
  • HE Roman Chamomile 2ml
  • Hazel HV: 3ml 
  • Transcutol: additional 15ml

Apply 3 to 4 drops of the mixture on the solar plexus, or on the arch, on the inner wrist, or along the spinal column (from Pharmacist D. Baudoux)

Insomnia in pregnant women

Difficulty falling asleep and waking up at night due to various stresses and morphological changes caused by pregnancy.

  • Neroli: 0.5ml
  • Bergamot: 1ml
  • Roman Chamomile: 1ml
  • Carrier oil Hazelnut: supplement to 15ml

Three drops under the tongue 1/2 hour before bedtime (from Pharmacist D. Baudoux)

And here some scientific research 

On Jasmine and Lavender 

“Research in 2002 helped to confirm the long held belief of aromatherapists that Jasmine oil is a powerful relaxant that works as an effective aid to promoting restful sleep. The researcher, Dr Bryan Raudenbush (…) at the Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia, USA, found that people who slept in rooms fragranced with Jasmine appeared to sleep more peacefully and report higher afternoon alertness than when spending the night in a Lavender-scented room, or one with no added fragrance at all… Although people slept the same amount each night, those exposed to Jasmine reported feeling less anxiety when they woke up.” 

On Spikenard oil (Jatamansi) 

“The plant has the power to reduce stress, anxiety and tension by balancing biochemical reactions in the body. It is good to have the mind cool and healthy and the oil acts as one of the finest mind rejuvenator tonic. It facilitates sound sleeping thus good for those who have a stressful life.” 


Cf. http://www.gyanunlimited.com/health/

On Neroli, Lavender, Ylang Ylang, Marjoram
– On sleep problems and high blood pressure (often a cause of isomnia) 

“In a 2013 study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, an aromatherapy blend containing Neroli essential oil was found to reduce anxiety and alleviate sleep problems in a group of coronary angioplasty patients in an intensive care unit… Neroli essential oil may aid in blood pressure control, according to a study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine in 2012.4… 83 people with high blood pressure or prehypertension inhaled the aroma of either a placebo fragrance or an aromatherapy blend containing Neroli, Lavender, Ylang-Ylang, and Marjoram essential oils for 24 hours. Results revealed that those assigned to the aromatherapy blend experienced a significant decrease in blood pressure, as well as in levels of the stress hormone cortisol.” 

And last but not least a few more points on Aroma Massage – a great helper for insomnia

  • Aroma-massage is more profound than normal massage: Essential oils have a high penetrability through the skin and can be traced within minutes in our organism.
  • A good aroma-massage improves on a long term basis the quality of our sleep and the degree of relaxation. It is a first class neuro-physiological relaxation therapy.
  • Aroma-massage enlivens blocked energies and mobilizes hidden reserves.
  • Aroma-massage leads to marked decrease of stress.
  • Aroma-massage improves bad circulation and decreases nervous tension and lack of self-confidence in women with PMS.
  • Aroma-massage is a direct way to influence and purify our auric energy.

Wish you great success! Have a peaceful and good night! Nature is watching on us for a happier life!

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