How To Fall Asleep and Stay Asleep (Wake Up Refreshed Every Time)

by Jodi Cohen

Restful sleep, defined as the ability to both fall asleep and stay asleep, is critical for health and healing.  It allows time for the body to rest and repair, detoxify, balance blood sugar levels, burn calories and reset our energy reserves.  Without restful sleep, we feel fatigued and our body compensates with cortisol spikes, sugar cravings and other tricks to keep us awake and functioning. There is also growing evidence that sleep cycles impact other cycles in the body including the rhythmic patterns of the digestive and immune systems.  When we sleep, the brain produces 90 minute cycles of slow wave sleep. This is followed by periods of rapid eye movement (REM) during which dreams occur. During the night, the gut also produces 90 minute slow wave muscle contractions which are followed by short burst of rapid movement. Poor sleep cycles can disrupt this digestive function and the healing process within the gut. Essential Oils for sleep can help you fall asleep and stay asleep.

Low Melatonin Can Impact Gut Health

The sleep cycle, beginning with the release of the hormone melatonin from the pineal gland, appears to support the body’s immune system by resetting the balance of healthy bacteria in the small intestine.  Melatonin, in combination with the hormone prolactin, triggers an immune response that regenerates the micro flora and epithelial lining in the small intestine to restore a healthy balance and negate the threat of viruses, bacteria, and other toxins in the body. Eight hours of sleep is optimal for this melatonin and prolactin production to occur.  Anything less does not allow these hormones to effectively balance the gut flora which is key to supporting the immune system.  Melatonin is also thought to help regulate inflammation and support glutathione levels.

Poor Sleep is an Epidemic: Many clients, including small children, suffer from some sort of sleep dysfunction and attempt to tranquilize the body with everything from over the counter drugs like cough syrup and pain medication to prescription drugs.  Unfortunately, if a client is not sleeping it will be very hard for them to heal.  Further, if they are relying on drugs to sleep, they are adding yet another toxin to the mix that throws the body off balance.

 

How to Fall Asleep and Stay Asleep

In order to really solve sleep challenges, you need to look at the underlying issues.  These can range from low levels of melatonin in the system which can make it challenging to fall asleep to blood sugar and hormonal challenges or an overload of the detoxification organs, such as the liver and gall bladder, which can contribute to night-time waking. In searching for an alternative to over-the-counter medications and prescription drugs, we found that sleep issues lend themselves especially well to essential oil support. We have attempted to help you isolate different sleep issues and have also created an online sleep assessment to help clients learn more about specific sleep issues and natural remedies to consider in place of drugs.

 

Essential Oils For Sleep

Many clients struggle to fall asleep or experience racing thoughts or worries while lying in bed, indicating that the body’s natural sleep and wake cycles, known as the circadian rhythms, might be a little out of balance. As you may know, the stress hormone, cortisol, is released by the adrenal glands. The sleep hormone, melatonin, is released by the pineal gland, a small pine cone shaped endocrine gland located near the center of the brain. Our cortisol rhythms are supposed to be highest in the morning and then wane as the day wears on.  When people are active at night and slow in the morning, the cortisol patterns are reversed.  This throws off the circadian rhythm because cortisol and melatonin have an antagonistic relationship. Elevated cortisol levels at night actually turn off melatonin production.

Similarly, if melatonin is elevated then cortisol is depressed. It might help to think of a teeter totter.  When the stress hormone (cortisol) is high, it forces the sleep hormone (melatonin) to be low.  People often supplement with the melatonin hormone, which can help in the short term.  The challenge here is that the body, specifically the pineal gland, is supposed to make its own melatonin and external supplementation of the hormone sends the signal to the body that it is sufficient in melatonin production and actually reduces the body’s own production of the hormone.  In other words, it throws off the body’s own internal thermostat for self-regulation.

Another option is to help the pineal gland return to its innate intelligence and release more melatonin naturally, which we are doing by applying Vibrant Blue Oils Circadian Rhythm™ blend to specific locations on the head (top of the skull and on the skull right above the ears).  This method emulates the innate intelligence of the body and has been extremely effective for those suffering from sleep issues and anxiety. If you again think of the teeter totter example, when melatonin then increases (goes up), it forces cortisol levels down, effectively serving as a back door to lowering stress, anxiety and the racing thoughts that keep many of us wide awake when our bodies are exhausted and longing for sleep.  My 10 year old daughter suffered from night time anxiety for over a year.  I tried everything I could think of and often just spent the night holding her while she cried, trying to soothe her fears.  The Circadian Rhythm™ blend was really a game changer for us. Not only did it help her fall asleep almost instantly, but within a week she reported that her night time anxiety was gone.

An imbalance in the circadian rhythm can present with indicators such as:

  • Inability to fall asleep
  • Inability to stay asleep
  • Difficulty waking up in the morning
  • Not feeling well after sleep
  • Not recovering from physical activity
  • Drop of energy between 4 and 7
  • Headache only in day parts

  

We have found the following oils helpful for clients who struggle to fall asleep:

  • Vibrant Blue Oils Circadian Rhythm™ blend works well for people who struggle to fall asleep at night due to high stress or racing thoughts.  Restful sleep is a critical component to healing.  When the circadian rhythms flow smoothly, the body heals more easily.
  • Vibrant Blue Oils Sleep™ blend and Vibrant Blue Oils Calm™ blend work well to calm the body and the mind before bed.

Staying Asleep: Nighttime waking, awakening shortly after falling asleep or waking up throughout the night, can often be attributed to:

  1. Blood Sugar issues
  2. Liver and Gall Bladder overload
  3. Hormonal Issues

 Blood Sugar Sleep Issues: Sudden drops in blood sugar during the sleep cycle can cause the body to release cortisol (a stress hormone) that in turn wakes us up and makes us feel wide awake. The connection between sleep and blood sugar issues goes beyond the obvious fact that when a client is tired they will crave sugar and carbohydrates for quick energy.  Researchers at Boston University School of medicine found that as the amount of sleep decreases, blood sugar increases, escalating the issue. The study found that people who slept less than six hours a night had blood sugar problems compared to those who slept for eight hours or more. This has to do in part with burning sugar versus fat for fuel.  Humans are designed to burn fat during the sleep cycle because it burns long and slow, like a log on a campfire, in contrast to sugar and carbs which burn quickly, more like kindling on a fire.  Because of undetected blood sugar issues, many people never go into fat metabolism during the night.  Instead, their bodies attempt to burn sugar and carbs until the supply runs out, causing blood sugar to plummet.  This then triggers a cortisol response which of course wakes them up with so much energy that they could go clean the kitchen and have trouble falling back to sleep.  Many clients find themselves stuck in this vicious cycle of sleep deprivation raising blood sugar, and unstable blood sugar in turn compromising quality sleep. We have found the following oils helpful for clients who wake up in the middle of the night due to blood sugar issues:

  • Vibrant Blue Oils Pancreas™ blend can help with night time waking, especially when you wake up and feel so wide awake that you could go clean the kitchen.  Waking during the night and feeling wide awake can suggest blood sugar issues for which the pancreas is a key organ.  Just smelling the Pancreas™ oil can help balance the pancreas enough to allow the body to naturally fall back asleep.
  • Vibrant Blue Oils Circadian Rhythm™ blend puts the circadian rhythms in balance and as a result help to balance the adrenal glands which are a critical organ in blood sugar management. The Circadian Rhythm™ oil is an incredible adrenal aid, as it stops them for overworking through the night, which will only exhaust them further.
  • Vibrant Blue Oils Adrenal™ blend helps to balance the adrenals, the organ that releases cortisol, thus reducing the intensity of cortisol spikes during both waking and night time hours.
  • Vibrant Blue Oils Parasympathetic™ blend  helps to put the body in the parasympathetic rest and digest state that is helpful both for optimal digestion and relaxing for sleep.
  • Vibrant Blue Oils Hypothalamus™ blend balances and supports the hypothalamus which is the control center in the brain for the entire endocrine system, including all your hormones and your adrenals.  The hypothalamus determines how much cortisol is in the blood, so balancing the hypothalamus can help manage cortisol spikes.

  Liver and Gall Bladder:  According to Chinese Medicine, each organ has a time of the day/night where it does its thing, and waking between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. is “liver time”.  This often reflects an overload in body’s ability to detoxify from toxins or emotions like anger, frustration or resentment. Unlike blood sugar night waking, liver and gall bladder trigger awakenings are often accompanied by a feeling of grogginess and clients find it easier to fall back asleep. For night-time waking due to liver issues or gall bladder issues, consider:

  • Vibrant Blue Oils Liver™ might be helpful if you are considering a cleanse or are often sensitive to smells (smoke, perfume, etc) and or chemicals, easily intoxicated or hung over.
  • Vibrant Blue Oils Liver Support™  can support the release of emotions related to the liver, including the feelings of frequent irritation, impatience, resentment or frustration, if you’re critical of yourself or others, if you have control issues, an inability to express your feelings in a grounded/balanced way, a lack of joy, feelings of not feeling heard, not feeling loved, not being recognized or appreciated or any issues with denial such as an inability to be honest with yourself and others.
  • Vibrant Blue Oils Gall Bladder™ The Gall Bladder concentrates the bile to help break down fat and carry toxins out of the body.  If the bile becomes too thick, it doesn’t flow as well and toxins don’t move out of the system as efficiently.  Some indicators that Gall Bladder Flow might be a helpful blend for you would be motion sickness, floating stools, avoiding fatty food like meat or if you do eating fatty food, needing to use the restroom shortly after, pain between shoulder blades, subtle headache above eyes.

  Hormonal Issues: Hormonal ups and downs from menstruation, pregnancy, and midlife fluctuations can impact sleep.  For example, the hormone progesterone promotes restful sleep and a drop in estrogen can leave you more vulnerable to stress. Similar to blood sugar events, hot flashes are also caused by a rush of cortisol that alerts your mind and wakes you up. For night-time waking due to hormonal issues, consider:

  • Vibrant Blue Oils Hypothalamus™  supports the pearl size region of the brain located just above the brainstem known as the hypothalamus to send and receive the clear messages from the body necessary to facilitate appropriate hormonal responses.
  • Vibrant Blue Oils Circadian Rhythm™ blend works well for people who struggle to fall asleep at night due to high stress or racing thoughts.  Restful sleep is a critical component to healing.  When the circadian rhythms flow smoothly, the body heals more easily.
  • Excess estrogen can make the bile from the Gall Bladder too thick and less able to efficiently detoxify excess hormones.  Gall Bladder™ helps mobilize the toxins out of the body.

 

Resources

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About The Author

Jodi Sternoff Cohen is the founder of Vibrant Blue Oils. An author, speaker, nutritional therapist, and a leading international authority on essential oils, Jodi has helped over 50,000 individuals support their health with essential oils.

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