Aroma and scent therapies are considered an effective method against stress, lack of relaxation and sleep disorders. You can find out here how certain scents influence our sleep and which aromas can help us sleep more restfully.
Table of contents
- Stress, relaxation & sleep
- Our sense of smell & scents while we sleep
- Aromatherapy: Essential oils for better sleep
- Three essential scents for a peaceful sleep
- Cedar or sandalwood
- Relax & sleep better
1. Stress, relaxation & sleep
More and more people are suffering from sleep disorders or regularly don't sleep enough, even though sufficient and good sleep is the most important basis for our daily performance and a healthy everyday life. Stress and a lack of relaxation in particular not only damage our health, but also our sleep and ensure that the much-needed night-time regeneration is disrupted. If we feel stressed before going to bed, our cortisol levels rise exactly when the body actually needs to rest. This often leads to problems falling asleep and promotes restlessness and difficulty concentrating, which in turn has a negative impact on sleep.
So that our body and mind can recover sufficiently and we wake up really rested in the morning, we should rest and relax early, especially in the evening. Meditation, Music or the tried and tested evening reading are popular methods that appeal to our senses positively and alleviate stress. But can certain scents and aromas calm us down and help us sleep better and more restfully?
2. Our sense of smell & scents while we sleep
Our senses are constantly active and busy transmitting perceived stimuli from our environment via the central nervous system to the brain, where they are further evaluated and processed. When we inhale, fragrances reach the olfactory receptors in our nasal mucosa and trigger certain stimuli, which are passed on to our brain and, among other things, to the "limbic system" which is responsible for emotions and feelings. In this way, smells can trigger both physical and psychological reactions, arouse emotions or become part of our emotional memory.
Even at night, our sense of smell does not switch off completely. However, scientific research has shown that our sensitivity to smell is strongest in the evening (around 9 p.m.) and weakest at night until early morning. This means that we react more intensely to scents or smells, especially in the hours before going to bed, than at night, while important regeneration and processing processes are taking place in the brain.
Scents have a particular effect on sleep because of their potentially relaxing effect and by triggering positive emotions or memories. Positive emotional sensations cause certain messenger substances to be released in our brain, for example endorphins or the “happiness hormone” serotonin. On the one hand, serotonin has a calming effect on the nervous system and, as a precursor to the sleep hormone melatonin, is crucial for a healthy sleep-wake rhythm. Perceiving certain smells, especially before going to bed, can help you optimally prepare for sleep and support falling asleep.
3. Aromatherapy: Essential oils for better sleep
Aromatherapy is a part of herbal medicine that has relied on the natural and healing effects of essential oils for centuries. These are absorbed as fragrances or care substances, particularly in the form of candles, aromatic and body oils or baths, through the smell or the skin.
Various studies have shown that certain essential scents, which are associated with calm, relaxation and a positive mood, have a positive effect on the physical and mental state. Among other things, they help to alleviate stress, tension and fears. Since these factors are directly related to the quality of our sleep and are often responsible for difficulty falling asleep or sleep disorders, aromatherapy can support healthy sleep.
4. Three essential scents for a peaceful sleep
Lavender is considered a classic in aromatherapy and has been known for centuries as a natural remedy for problems falling asleep, inner restlessness or anxiety due to its calming effect. The aroma of the plant has been proven to help relieve anxiety, drive away nervousness and promote inner peace.
Lavender contains over 200 plant substances that reduce the release of stress hormones in our body, protect the nervous system from an overload of negative stimuli and also have a calming effect on the heart rate and blood pressure. At the same time, the production of the happiness hormone serotonin is influenced. Lavender has a positive effect on our mood and melatonin synthesis in the evening, which can support a healthy sleep-wake rhythm.
Cedar and Sandalwood
The scent of sandalwood, which is usually perceived as spicy and distinctive, has a balancing effect and can help promote well-being and positively influence emotions and thoughts. Sandalwood has been used for many decades in traditional Indian Ayurveda to relieve nervousness and restlessness and helps to create optimal conditions for peaceful sleep.
And the fragrant cedar oil is also said to have a sleep-promoting effect. The aroma strengthens the nerves and, in some studies, could help you fall asleep faster.
The lemon balm is also a proven remedy for relieving sleep disorders. The aroma of lemon balm not only has an antibacterial and antihypertensive effect, but has also been proven to calm our minds and relieve stress, nervous tension and negative moods. The essential oils of lemon balm can ensure that nerve activity slows down in the evening, stress and anxiety signals are perceived less strongly and we relax better and sleep peacefully.
5. Relax & sleep better
Many studies confirm that rituals with essential oils support relaxation and can also improve sleep quality in the long term. Especially if mental or physical stress disrupts sleep and makes it difficult to fall asleep, targeted relaxation before bed can be supported with the natural effects of essential oils. Among the numerous possible applications, the aromas of lavender, sandalwood and other medicinal plants are particularly popular in the form of room fragrances and scented candles.
Tip: For a pleasant scent experience and the most effective effect possible, you should also pay attention to the quality and origin of the plant substances used.
Smells perceived have an effect on our body and psyche, can affect the nervous system and awaken emotions or memories
Certain scents can relieve stress, tension, nervousness or anxiety and thus help to improve falling asleep and staying asleep and reduce sleep disorders
The essential oils from lavender, cedar wood, sandalwood or lemon balm have a particularly beneficial effect on relaxation and support a peaceful, restful sleep
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