Some essential oils can improve sleep quality. This statement is not the result of beliefs but of a scientific study performed recently and published in The journal of alternative and complementary medicine thanks to the work of a team of Texan scientists (McDonnell et al, JACM, 2019). Today we are talking about this study to understand which are the best essential oils that can help guarantee us a good restful sleep.
Sleep disturbances, also a health problem
Sleep disturbances can increase stress levels in the body, causing higher blood pressure and an increased risk of developing arteriosclerosis, diabetes, heart attack, stroke and obesity. Often the medicines that are prescribed in these cases, such as benzodiazepines, are not without side effects. This is why scientists are focusing their studies on finding alternative and more natural methods to tackle the problem of disturbed sleep. Essential oils are natural remedies that are increasingly gaining attention for their beneficial properties on the health of body and mind. Therefore, the researchers wondered whether a particular blend of essential oils, such as lavender, ylang ylang and bergamot, could improve sleep quality.
Why these essential oils?
Linalool, which is a substance contained, for example, in the essential oils of lavender and bergamot, has shown neuroprotective, calming and sedative properties. Ylang ylang contains organic compounds, the esters, capable of regulating and balancing the nervous system and instilling a feeling of relaxation. Then, given these properties, the researchers created a blend containing these essential oils and tested their sleep properties.
Does the goodnight blend exist? Here's the research
42 people were recruited, all between the ages of 45 and 85, with heart problems and difficulty sleeping at night. The scientists divided the volunteers into two groups. The first group was asked to place a cotton ball near the pillow for 5 nights on which a few drops of the mixture prepared with the essential oils of lavender, bergamot and ylang ylang had been poured. The second group, on the other hand, used a cotton ball on which vegetable oils such as jojoba and walnut oils, without aroma, had been poured. At the end of the experiment, the volunteers were subjected to tests to evaluate any changes related to the quality of sleep. What emerged was that, in those who had breathed the mixture of lavender, bergamot and ylang ylang, the quality of sleep had improved significantly. In particular, sleep was restorative and continuous, with fewer interruptions, caused for example by getting up to go to the bathroom or by sensations of excessive cold. The explanation provided is that the blend of essential oils was able to induce a deeper sleep in the volunteers who smelled it during the night. These essential oils are likely to have prolonged phase three of sleep, which is the phase of deep sleep in which the body regenerates and relaxes.