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Sleep Expert Reveals 9 Scents to Help You Sleep Better

From reducing anxiety to stopping snoring, these scents could be the key to a peaceful night.


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Incorporating an essential oil into your nightly routine may be the answer to keep you from tossing and turning at night, and even work to fix a skewed sleep schedule.  

Sleep expert Ray Soberano from describes them as a natural alternative to sleep medicines, offering an array of therapeutic benefits for relaxing the mind and body.  

“Essential oils are the liquid compounds extracted from plants, acquired through distillation with steam or other mechanical methods, such as cold pressing,” says Soberano. “While in oil form, the plant’s scent becomes more prominent and is effective in preparing your body for rest.”

The aromas work to ease sleep disruptions, such as snoring, sleep apnea, and night-time stuffiness. 

“The powerful aromas from essential oils stimulate parts of the limbic system, a sector of the brain responsible for emotions, behaviors, sense of smell, and long-term memory,” says Soberano. “Some essential oils have relaxing effects, so when you smell these fragrances, your body’s receptors send calming signals to the brain to help your body decompress.” 

But what scent is right for you? Here are some scents to try to tackle a variety of sleep problems.  

Lavender Oil – Helps with stress and anxiety  

Lavender is the most researched herb for sleep and is revered for its ability to reduce stress and anxiety. As an essential oil, it’s known to relax the body’s muscles to promote restfulness, leading to more slow-wave sleep, and slow-wave sleep is the most restorative kind of rest and allows your brain to recover from daily activities. 

Vanilla Oil –  Helps with snoring and sleep apnea 

As one of the most recognizable fragrances, vanilla is a powerful antioxidant and relaxant. Vanilla contains anti-inflammatory properties proven to help individuals breathe easily at night, making it an especially good choice for those suffering from sleep apnea and snoring. 

Cedarwood Oil – Helps with joint pain 

Cedarwood is known for its woody aroma and has been characterized as a warm and comforting sedative. Like lavender, cedarwood oil also eases pressure on the joints to provide you with a more peaceful sleep experience. Furthermore, this essential oil stimulates blood circulation and helps prevent numbness, tingling, and muscle cramps while asleep. 

Chamomile Oil – Helps with restlessness 

Chamomile is a plant extract containing apigenin, a chemical compound that can induce sleepiness when it binds to the brain’s receptors. Additionally, apigenin increases levels of serotonin, a chemical responsible for regulating your body’s internal clock. Your body uses serotonin to produce the sleep hormone melatonin as this helps with fighting against restlessness. 

Bergamot Oil – Helps to lower blood pressure 

Bergamot oil is an extract produced from prickly trees called citrus bergamia, originating in the tropical climates of Southeast Asia. While some citrus oils may be too stimulating for sleep, bergamot is unique as it relaxes the body by lowering blood pressure. These calming qualities ease racing thoughts and allow sleepers to rest peacefully without feeling anxious. 

Ylang-Ylang Oil – Helps to stabilize heart rate  

Ylang-Ylang oil is an extract from the fruit of Indonesian Canaga trees. It is a beautifully fragrant oil known to enhance the health of the nervous system by reducing tension exerted on nerves and stabilizing heart rate. This is not only beneficial in promoting restfulness, but it also reduces the risk of hypertension and other heart-related diseases. 

Jasmine Oil – Helps tackle insomnia 

Jasmine is another popular essential oil used to tackle sleep disruptions. Its powerful fragrance stimulates the limbic system by promoting feelings of tranquility and helping individuals fall asleep faster. What sets this essential oil apart from others is its molecular structure, which is like medications for insomnia. Research suggests jasmine is just as effective as prescription remedies for sleeplessness. 

Peppermint Oil – Helps with congestion 

The anti-inflammatory qualities in peppermint are useful for reducing obstructions such as nasal congestion and inflammation. Peppermint oil can be beneficial for those who suffer from allergies because the stimulating fragrance clears the nasal passage and allows for more airflow. Peppermint contains the organic compound menthol. When menthol is inhaled, it stimulates the hippocampus, an area of the brain responsible for mental clarity, and may enhance memory for some individuals. 

Geranium Oil – Helps to calm nerves 

Geranium oil’s light floral fragrance acts as an antidepressant to ease stress brought on by insomnia. Struggling to fall asleep each night can increase levels of cortisol, a hormone responsible for regulating stress. However, inhaling geranium can lower cortisol in the body and keep your nerves calm. This way you can get a good right of rest without thoughts of worry plaguing your sleep. 

How to Use Essential Oils at Bedtime 

Essential oils are incredibly versatile, and you can incorporate them into your bedtime routine by adding them in a hot bath or even into a diffuser.  

Many people find it soothing to rub a few drops of oil on their chest, wrist, neck, forehead, hands, or feet. Before you apply your essential oil, mix it with a carrier oil like olive, grapeseed, or coconut oil, because the skin is sensitive to undiluted essential oils, and irritations may develop. 

Another way you can take advantage of essential oils’ relaxing benefits is by placing them into a warm bath. Most individuals combine five to 20 drops with a tablespoon of carrier oil before adding the blend into their bathtub. As you soak, the oils absorb through your skin to help you decompress and release tension. Not to mention, they offer a pleasant aroma to enhance relaxation. 

It’s important to remember many essential oils are adaptogens, meaning they adapt to people differently. Some fragrances, like peppermint or citrus oils, might be too stimulating for sleep and can keep you from falling asleep. It’s best to test out your oil for a couple of nights to ensure your body is relaxed and your sleep quality is enhanced. 

About The Author

Julie is the co-founder of Well Defined and a longtime influencer and advocate in the wellness world. Along with her work at Well Defined, she is an executive recruiter and marketing specialist for Hutchinson Consulting. She is also a consultant and content strategist for numerous wellness brands. She is the former editor-in-chief and publisher of American Spa and was named a 2019 Folio Top Woman in Media in the Industry Trailblazers category and a 2018 winner of ISPA’s Innovate Award. She is also a seasoned journalist, specializing in spa, travel, health, fitness, wellness, sustainability, and beauty. She has been published in Departures,, E! Online,, Insider’s Guide to Spas, Luxury Travel Advisor, Marin Magazine, Ocean Home, Smart Meetings, Spa Asia, and Travel Agent.