Insomnia is a debilitating condition. Sufferers lie awake night after night, sometimes tossing and turning, occassionally dropping off for short periods of broken sleep. They rarely awake in the morning feeling refreshed and well-rested from a good night’s sleep. Prescribed or over-the-counter sleeping pills can help but are not a long-term solution, and can have the side effect of making you feel groggy the next day.

A natural approach to sleeplessness can often provide the best long-term solution. In aromatherapy, essential oils traditionally valued for their relaxing properties include: lavender, clary sage, chamomile, juniper, sweet marjoram, mandarin, neroli, rose, ylang ylang and sandalwood. These oils help to promote a restful state of mind and body, and so encourage good sleep.

Essential Oils For Bedtime

There are a number of ways in which you can use these essential oils in the evening to ensure a good night’s sleep.


Burn four to five drops of one or two essential oils of your choice in your bedroom. Do this one hour before you intend to go to bed, to allow the vapours to spread across the room.

For example, burn:

  • 2 drops juniper with 3 drops clary sage
  • 2 drops chamomile with 3 drops lavender
  • combine 2 drops neroli with 3 drops mandarin

Other good combinations include: chamomile and mandarin, sweet marjoram and lavender, rose and neroli, and ylang ylang and sandalwood. You can also pour four to five drops of essential oils of your choice onto a pad of cotton wool and place this by your pillow. Throughout the night you will inhale the relaxing scents and so allow the sedative effects to linger.

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Sweet marjoram

This essential oil is probably the most potent natural sedative aromatherapy has to offer. If you have real difficulty getting to sleep, pour five drops on to a cotton wool pad and put it by your pillow. After a few nights of using sweet marjoram, most people find that they are better rested and that their sleep patterns begin to return to normal.


Aromatherapy baths can put your body in a deep state of relaxation before bedtime. Two hours before bed run a warm bath, then make the blend below to slosh around the water:

  • 30ml full-fat or semi-skimmed milk
  • 6 drops each neroli, mandarin and rose

This bath is deeply comforting to your mind and nurtures your emotional self. Rose is known to be a ‘mothering oil’. It puts your mind at ease and promotes feelings of inner warmth. These oils put you in a state that prepares you for sleep.

Other good combinations for relaxing bath blends are, mixed in 30ml full-fat or semi-skimmed milk:

  • 6 drops each lavender, chamomile and sweet marjoram
  • 4 drops ylang ylang and 6 drops each sandalwood and mandarin

A Word Of Caution

Take care not to combine drinking alcohol with using clary sage as a night oil. It can be tempting to have a drink to help you fall asleep. However, too much alcohol before bed can disturb your sleep and when drunk at the same time as using clary sage, this can cause you to have vivid and disturbing dreams, or nightmares.

Too much lavender oil can also have the opposite effect than is intended. Lavender is a balancing oil, it can relax and stimulate. If you use too much at bedtime, it will excite rather than relax, and prevent a good night’s sleep. Use lavender in moderation for relaxation.

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If symptoms of insomniaa persist for longer than a fortnight, consult your GP.