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What Are the Benefits of Aromatherapy for Sleep?

M.C. Huguelet
M.C. Huguelet

Many individuals who have difficulty sleeping wonder whether aromatherapy, or the use of scented natural oils to promote emotional and psychological well-being, can help them get a good night’s rest. In fact, there are a few potential benefits to using aromatherapy for sleep. First of all, it is generally not necessary to visit a doctor before attempting to use aromatherapy for sleep, and aromatherapy oils are available without a prescription. Additionally, the oils may cost less than other sleep aids and usually do not cause side effects. On the downside, medical research has not fully confirmed or refuted the usefulness of aromatherapy for sleep.

One of the central benefits of using aromatherapy for sleep is that it typically does not require the potentially costly and time-consuming visits to doctors or even sleep laboratories generally needed for traditional sleep disorder treatments. Further, aromatherapy oils can be obtained without a prescription in most health food stores as well as many pharmacies. Thus, those who wish to attempt improving their sleep through aromatherapy can simply purchase oils and begin using them immediately. An herbalist or health food store employee may be able to provide advice about which scents are most soothing and how the oils should be administered.

Aromatherapy oil.
Aromatherapy oil.

Another potential benefit of using aromatherapy for sleep is that aromatherapy oils tend to be less costly than many traditional prescription and over-the-counter sleep aids. Further, these oils generally do not cause the side effects that may accompany the use of some traditional sleep aids, such as next-day sluggishness or dependence. It should be noted, however, that failure to use aromatherapy oils as directed can result in side effects like skin rashes or respiratory irritation.

A woman asleep.
A woman asleep.

While using aromatherapy for sleep may have several potential benefits, it is important to be aware that as of late 2011, medical professionals do not yet fully understand whether this treatment is truly effective or which oils are most likely to improve sleep. This is largely because each kind of oil has a distinctive smell, making it difficult to find convincing placebo scents. Preliminary evidence does appear to confirm, however, that lavender oil may enhance relaxation among some users. In any case, as using aromatherapy for sleep is generally safe and affordable, it may be worth a try for those searching for a non-medicinal approach to their sleep difficulties.

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    • Aromatherapy oil.
      By: wasansrisawat
      Aromatherapy oil.
    • A woman asleep.
      By: Mitarart
      A woman asleep.
    • Lavender is a popular addition to aromatherapy products due to its relaxing scent.
      By: Kimberly Reinick
      Lavender is a popular addition to aromatherapy products due to its relaxing scent.
    • An aromatherapy bath lowers the heart rate and calms the mind, helping to lull the person to sleep.
      By: Günter Menzl
      An aromatherapy bath lowers the heart rate and calms the mind, helping to lull the person to sleep.
    • Aromatherapy does not cause the side effects of medicinal sleep aids.
      By: Anna Khomulo
      Aromatherapy does not cause the side effects of medicinal sleep aids.