The ACHS Herbal Medicine textbook defines insomnia as: “a sleep disturbance that is characterized by difficulty getting to sleep, and/or difficulty staying asleep or waking up too early.” People who suffer from insomnia are more likely to have accidents, memory retention and recall issues, and, many times, their body systems are unable to function properly. Those who suffer from insomnia consistently for at least six months are considered “chronic” insomniacs. Chronic insomniacs should be referred to their medical professional to rule out any underlying conditions. Insomnia can come in the form of a few times a week to every night. Eating a healthy, whole food diet and exercising regularly, as well as establishing a sleep routine are key elements to relieving insomnia. (Petersen, 2015)
Additionally, taking a few steps to modify your lifestyle can reduce insomnia, these include:
- Sleeping and waking at the same time daily,
- Avoiding alcohol, simple sugars and heavy meals close to bedtime,
- Forgoing caffeinated beverages at least four to six hours prior to bedtime,
- Exercising in the afternoon approximately three to five hours beforebedtime,
- Eliminating anything beyond sleeping and intimacy within the bedroom,and softening light and sound
- Providing a stable temperature within your bedroom; and,
- Including nervine herbs and oils into your routine, such as: Lavender (Lavendula officinalis), Valerian (Valeriana officinalis), Roman chamomile (Camaemelim nobile), Tangerine (Citrus reticulata) and Ylang ylang (Cananga odorata).
Lavender is known for its ability to promote a general feeling of peace, health and sense of well-being. It has been documented that lavender increases slow wave sleep. These benefits of lavender made it a prime choice for a blend focused on quality sleep. One should be cautious of its toxicity when taken orally, and potential sensitivity when applied topically. Valerian is known for its ability to promote quality sleep. Valerian benefits emotional stability by relieving stress, and acting as a natural tranquilizer. It also promotes balance in our body’s sleep patterns, which aides us in enjoying restful, undisturbed sleep. Follow dosage guidelines when using valerian as excessive use can cause dizziness, cramping, mild depression, stomach aches and skin rashes or hives. (Organicfacts.com)
Roman chamomile is another relaxing oil which focuses on providing peace to our emotional state, and eliminating reactions associated with anxiety. The aldehydes and esters found in tangerine are calming and soothing to the nervous system. Ylang ylang acts as an antidepressant and sedative, and is used to balance and quiet mental fatigue. Which can many times accompany stress, especially when insomnia is a side effect of said stress. Both Roman chamomile and ylang ylang can cause skin irritation, therefore, a skin patch test should be administered prior to topical use. (Modern Essentials)
Dosage guidelines and therapeutic margins should be adhered to when preparing a blend for use in quality sleep. These are imperative to ensuring the correct result. Lavender, for instance, can elicit a stimulating reaction when too much is used. Which in this case would provide the opposite of the intended use.
Health Benefits of Valerian. (n.d.). In Organic Facts. Retrieved from https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/essential-oils/valerian-essential-oil.html
Lavender. (n.d.). In University of Maryland Medical Center. Retrieved from http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/lavender
AromaTools. (216). Modern Essentials: A Contemporary Guide to the Therapeutic Uses of Essential Oils (6th ed., pp. 105-142). Orem, UT: Author
Petersen, BA, Dip-NT, Dip-Acu, RH, D. (2015). Aroma 203: Aromatherapy I. Portland, OR: American College of Healthcare Sciences.