Sleep difficulties can often be attributed to an imbalance in the neurological system. Essential Oils for sleep can be used to balance the nervous system.
Specifically, when the sympathetic nervous system – which controls the fight or flight system is over-active (a condition known as sympathetic dominant), our bodies are stuck in a chronic stress response.
In this state, increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol are produced, which stimulates the mind and body to a highly alert and wakeful state. High cortisol levels also depress the sleep hormone melatonin (read more about the synergy between melatonin and cortisol here).
Essential Oils for Sleep
This is one of the reasons that children on the autism spectrum struggle so much with sleep. Many children on the spectrum suffer from a right-brain deficiency and compensate by using their left brain. The left side of the brain is responsible for categorization and conscious thought, so it can be difficult for left brained individuals to “turn it off” before going to bed, leading to a lackluster night’s sleep.
Children on the spectrum often have a lower than normal vagal tone to help them switch into the parasympathetic state of the nervous system – which controls the body’s ability to go into a restful state. These chronic sleep problems can be corrected by helping the brain to regulate the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems correctly, thus bringing the brain and nervous system back into balance.
Essential Oils to Balance the Nervous System for Improved Sleep
Essential Oils, with their unique ability to access and heal the brain, can be powerful tools to help balance the brain and nervous system (Learn more here). Some specific essential oils that can help support healthy sleep patterns, including:
Parasympathetic™: Helps to activate the vagus nerve to trigger the Parasympathetic rest and digest state of the autonomic nervous system, which allows our bodies to relax so we can sleep. The vagus nerve travels down both sides of the neck and is most accessible behind the ear lobe on the mastoid bone. Topically applying Parasympathetic ™ blend on the vagal nerve behind the on the neck can help reset the autonomic nervous system for optimal function. The ease of which the vagus nerve can return the body to the parasympathetic state after a stress response is known as Vagal Tone™.
Circadian Rhythm™ : Melatonin is the key hormone to help us fall asleep. It is typically released by the pineal gland in response to darkness, but modern toxins and artificial lighting can impede this release. Circadian Rhythm™ blend can be applied around the base of the skull (apex of head, above ears and back of head) to help trigger the natural release of melatonin and help us fall asleep.
Calm the Nervous System: Oils to help calm our systems so we can relax include Sleep™ which contains Spikenard which is known for its relaxing qualities. Calm™ and Lavender™ are also very relaxing and work well on small children, especially when added to a healing bath before bed.
- Calm™ available here
- Circadian Rhythm™ available here
- Lavender™ available here
- Parasympathetic™ available here
- Sleep™ available here