4 Ways Natural Plant Oils Can Help You Sleep

Essential oils have been in use for thousands of years and research does support some uses of the oils.

Until recently few studies had been conducted on the effectiveness of essential oils, although these studies did show that aromatherapy can be beneficial for select health conditions.

One of the best uses for essential oils is to promote healthy sleep.

Numerous recent studies support the use of essential oils for relieving insomnia and providing a calm sleeping environment. Find out more about how essential oils can benefit sleep and how to use them below.

How essential oils fight insomnia

“Essential oils” is a broad term, and can mean any oil extracted from a plant. Not all oils are beneficial for sleep.

According to what research is available, the most beneficial essential oils for sleep include lavender, bergamot, neroli, chamomile, and anise. These five essential oils soothe and relax while promoting healthy sleep.

A 2010 study published in the Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research was one of the first recent studies to test the effectiveness of essential oils.

In this study, researchers tested the effectiveness of lavender oil in improving the sleep habits of patients sleeping in the ICU and CCU. The researchers found that patients who breathed lavender essential oil slept better than the patients who did not breathe lavender. 

In 2013, a similar study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found beneficial results on the sleep quality and anxiety levels of ICU patients who breathed a mixture of lavender, Roman chamomile and neroli essential oils in a diffuser.

Although not as well-studied, anecdotal reports state that both anise and bergamot also have beneficial effects on sleep quality in animal studies.

How to use essential oils to promote sleep

Make your own sleepytime essential oil blend: In the 2013 study, the researchers mixed the three oils together using a ratio of 12 drops of lavender, 4 drops of chamomile, and 1 drop of neroli. For maximum benefits, you can also add in 1 drop of bergamot and 1 drop of anise essential oils. 

You can enjoy the benefits of this essential oil blend using these two application methods:


Place the oils in a diffuser or humidifier and place the diffuser in your room while you sleep. The effect is subtle, but you should feel better rested when you awaken.

Apply to the skin

Always use a carrier oil when applying essential oils to the skin, as some of the oils are too strong and can cause a rash or other skin reaction. A carrier oil such as grape seed oil, coconut oil, or olive oil will prevent the essential oils from harming the skin.

Mix the essential oil blend with the carrier oil in a ratio of 10 drops of essential oils per half ounce of carrier oil. You only need a small amount as a little goes a long way.

Experiment with the oils to see which blend helps you sleep best. You may be surprised at how much better you sleep at night with the right aromas tempting you to drift off into dreamland.