In a time of stressful news stories, pandemic concerns and a volatile economy, it’s understandable that you may be having trouble sleeping. We could all use a good night’s rest right about now to promote better physical and mental health. The good news is that lavender can help.
How Does Lavender Help You Sleep?
Lavender essential oil contains natural chemicals with a relaxing effect to promote sleep. Lavender has also been shown to lower blood pressure and heart rate. Combining the calming benefits of lavender with a peaceful bedtime routine can increase the amount and quality of your sleep. Here’s how it works.
Lavender Has the Power of Linalool and Linalyl Acetate
Linalool and linalyl acetate are perfectly natural chemicals found in plants like lavender, as well as essential oil extracted from lavender. They give lavender some of its health benefits, including better sleep.
According to ScienceDaily, “Numerous studies now confirm the potent relaxing effects of linalool, a fragrant alcohol found in lavender extracts.” The study goes on to suggest that linalool is best absorbed through the olfactory system, by smelling rather than simply inhaling. The scent is important and can be attained with a lavender spray or essential oil diffuser.
Science Focus further explains the benefits of the chemicals found in lavender:
“Lavender oil is mainly linalyl acetate and linalool, which are chemicals that are both rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream. Studies on mice have shown that these compounds inhibit several neurotransmitters and have a sedative and pain-relieving effect.” This may ease the mind and help you settle into a good night’s sleep.
Lavender Also Helps Lower Blood Pressure and Heart Rate
When you are over-stimulated by upsetting news stories or other anxiety-inducing problems, your heart rate may shoot up and make it hard to fall asleep. Lowering your heart rate and blood pressure can help you get to sleep much sooner than if your heart’s racing. And again, lavender offers a solution.
One study, published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), tested the effects of lavender oil inhalation on the nervous system of healthy volunteers. Conclusion: “The results revealed that lavender oil caused significant decreases of blood pressure, heart rate, and skin temperature, which indicated a decrease of autonomic arousal.” In other words, lavender calms people down.
Another study in NCBI tested the effects of essential oil inhalation including lavender on prehypertensive and hypertensive people. They discovered the following, referring to blood pressure as BP: “A four-week home BP monitor shows repeated increases and decreases in BP before and after intervention and an overall decreasing trend. Thus, essential oil inhalation not only has an immediate BP-lowering effect, but also has a long-term effect.”
So regular inhalation of essential oils including lavender helped lower blood pressure immediately as well as over time. However, we want to be clear that anyone with chronically high blood pressure should see a doctor for a complete course of action. We’re not suggesting lavender as a single solution, but a calming essential oil that has been shown to help people relax.
Add Lavender to Your Bedtime Routine for Better Sleep
The Wall Street Journal sums it up well: “Some studies suggest lavender does help sleep, but physicians say it will likely work best as part of a calming bedtime routine.”
This is a great idea. That means lowering the lights, avoiding screen time, and getting your body into a relaxed state as you wind down in the evening. And nowadays, it also helps to turn off the news well before bedtime, and clear your mind of negativity. Then get out the lavender so you can take advantage of its sleep-promoting benefits. The easiest method is to use lavender spray on your pillow or bed sheets before you hit the hay. And if a bad cold is what’s keeping you up at night, learn how lavender can help ease cold and flu symptoms.