Lavender oils are well-known oils that have long been used for many reasons. In fact, when it comes to sleep, lavender increased slow-wave sleep cycles in patients who used it. Using lavender for sleep is probably one of the most natural and healthy methods used by people today. There are multiple benefits of using the oil not just for sleep but for other conditions as well. However, some people do experience side effects and others should completely avoid the oil.
What are the Benefits of Lavender Oil for Sleep?
Without using harmful chemicals or synthetics, lavender oil can help a person with sleeping problems relax physically and mentally, causing them to fall asleep faster. It has also been shown to increase the quality of sleep a person gets when they use the oil before going to sleep.
Using lavender for sleep has been shown to have similar effects as that of pregabalin, a prescription medication used to treat anxiety. The main difference between the two is that the oil has sleep-promoting properties but it does not have sedative properties which can leave a patient completely unconscious, not asleep.
A German study showed that 2 out of 5 women in the double-blind study experienced a greater sleep duration and a higher sleep quality. This happened over the course of 6 to 10 weeks straight. These results confirm that while the oil is not guaranteed to work for everyone, it can certainly aid in some people’s sleeping habits.
How Can You Use Lavender for Sleep?
There are several different ways that lavender oil can be used as a sleeping aid. These can include applying it to the skin, drinking a mixture, and spraying it.
The oil can then be applied to the skin in two different ways: massaging it into the skin and putting a few drops into a bath. When using the massaging method, the oil should be diluted by mixing it with a carrier oil. The key areas that should be massaged are the back of the neck and the bottom of the feet. When using the bath method, as the bath fills up, a few drops of oil should be dropped into the tub. It is common for people to become relaxed after 15 to 30 minutes and by doing this right before bed.
Taking the oil by mouth is considered one of the simplest methods. It is recommended to only mix one or two drops to a single cup of water. This mixture should be drunk within an hour of going to bed. An alternative to this is drinking another liquid like tea that is primarily lavender-based.
The oil can be applied to the air or a fabric by either putting it in a diffuser or using a distilled spray bottle. Using a diffuser is another simple method because all that has to be done is putting a few drops of the oil into the device and letting it fill the room with a small amount of the scent. The diffuser does have to be cleaned regularly and maintained daily.
To spray lavender oil around a room, on fabric, or on upholstery, it must be diluted first. Take a small spray bottle, about 14 ounces or so, and fill it up almost to the top. Put a few drops of the oil into it, 2 to 6, close the top and shake the bottle slightly to allow it to thoroughly mix. Then spray the desired area. If you do not smell the lavender oil as much as you wanted to, add a few more drops, 1 to 3, at a time until you do.
All of these methods can take anywhere from a few minutes to about an hour, which can be convenient for those who may not have time to spend taking a bath every night. For long-term improvement, use any combination of these methods within a 6 to 10 week period. However, it is possible to use too much oil. Try to limit the use of the oil to only one or two methods per day and don’t use more than the recommended amount.
Are there other uses for Lavender Oil?
Yes, there are many different uses for Lavender oil. There is scientific evidence that the oil can effect and/or improve at least 6 different conditions and there are studies that have been done to suggest it can treat over 2 dozen other conditions, but there is not enough evidence to support that theory. The conditions that the oil can improve are hair loss, anxiety, canker sores, menstrual pain, fall prevention, and pain after surgery.
Patients that were treated with a mixture of several different types of oils, including lavender oil, noticed up to 44 percent more hair growth after 7 months of use.
People with anxiety who took an oral delusion (1 cup of water with 1 to 3 drops of lavender) of lavender oil for 6 to 10 weeks noticed signs of improvement as well as less recurrence of the mild-to-severe anxiety. However, there is still some doubt if the oil does improve anxiety or not and it requires more studies and results to confirm.
People with canker sores who placed 2 drops of lavender oil three times a day noticed a reduction in swelling and less pain. The healing time was also noticed to be shorter than normal.
Back and stomach pain brought on by menstrual cramps and pain were relieved in women after they breathed in the oil within three days of menstruation. Some of the women said this method was more effective than regular massages on the areas that ached.
By using a pad with lavender oil, there is evidence that falling in nursing homes can be reduced by nearly 43 percent. These pads are placed on the neckline of the patient’s clothing at any time of the day.
There were two different studies done on patients who just had surgery. One study was done on women who just had a C-section while the other was done on children who just had a tonsillectomy. Research on the women showed that along with painkillers, inhaling the oil can help with pain reduction.
The research with the children, ages 6 to 12, showed that the need for acetaminophen was lowered because of the effects the lavender oil had. The children inhaled the lavender for 3 minutes every 6 hours and noticed less pain.
Other conditions that lavender oil might be used to improve include eczema, colic, dementia, depression, fatigue, high blood pressure, labor pains, lice, menopausal symptoms, migraines, osteoarthritis, ear infections, restless leg syndrome, acne, cancer, headache, loss of appetite, nausea, toothache, bug repellent, vomiting, and more. As of now, there are no studies that determine if the oil does treat any of these conditions and more results from future studies will be needed to confirm this.
Are there any side effects or risks when using Lavender oils?
Some people may be allergic to lavender and lavender oil, and some people have sensitive skin that reacts to the oil. It is important to do a simple skin test before using lavender for sleep. To do a skin test, place a small drop on the inside of your arm and spread it around in a small spot, about the size of a coin. If you experience any itchiness, discomfort, discoloration, or any other signs in the spot you applied the oil within 24 hours, contact your doctor. However, it is uncommon for the skin test to cause these symptoms.
The skin test can be cleared, but ingesting the oil can show signs by itself. This is more common than having a reaction to the skin test. Some of the symptoms of ingesting the oil include having an upset stomach and nausea. It can also cause constipation, headache, and/or increased appetite. If this is the case, you should contact your doctor and ask if you should continue to take the oil.
Women who are pregnant or are breastfeeding should try to avoid using lavender oil even though there is no information that says it is unsafe or safe. The oil should also not be used on or around children. If these are your, or your child’s, circumstances, contact your family doctor and ask them if you should use the oil.
It is also recommended that a patient not use lavender oil two weeks before a surgery because the oil has been known to slow down the central nervous system. If this happens while the patient is on anesthesia and/or other medications, it can increase the possibility of a negative side effect during/right after the surgery.
Anyone with any kind of health condition should also contact a medical professional and ask if it is safe to start or continue using lavender oil, what methods should be used, and the appropriate dose that should be used daily, weekly, or monthly.