Insomnia, whether temporary or of long standing, is a situation which can be dramatically helped by aromatherapy. There are many essential oils which help to induce sleep safely and naturally, without any of the possible side-effects of sleeping tablets, and the simplest methods of use, such as aromatic baths or a few drops of essential oil on the pillow, are usually very effective.

Lavender, Camomile and Neroli are the essential oils which have proved to be the most effective in helping insomnia, and it is worth notice that each of them has a profound effect on the mind and emotions; calming, soothing, balancing and relieving anxiety. Any of the oils classified as sedative can be helpful, and indeed it is important to vary the oils used, especially if help with sleeping is needed over a period of more than a week or two.

The sedative oils include Benzoin - very helpful where external worries are at the root of sleeplessness, Bergamot - a good choice where insomnia is linked with depression, Clary Sage — a very profound relaxant which should never be combined with alcohol, as the two together can induce nightmares or very strong dreams, Marjoram — very warming and comforting, Sandalwood, Juniper, Ylang Ylang, and others. This list is not exhaustive but includes the oils considered most useful. Almost any of these can be mixed together in blends, so experiment until you find those you consider most pleasing and most effective.

Any of these oils or blends should be put into a comfortably warm bath before bedtime. The water should not be too hot, as this can be stimulating rather than relaxing. About 6 drops is enough to perfume a bath for an adult, though 4 drops of Sandalwood or Neroli will be sufficient, and Melissa should be used sparingly (not more than 3 drops), as a higher proportion may cause skin irritation, especially for people with blonde or very sensitive skin. For a child, 3 or 4 drops of any oil will be enough, and remember that you should always dilute the essen­tial oil before adding it to the bath for a baby or young child. (See BATHS.) No single oil or blend should be used for more than about two weeks at a time, as the body will quickly become accustomed to the oil and it will cease to be effective. If necessary, change to a different oil or blend, and return to the original choice after another week or two, if sleep patterns have not returned to normal.
These simple uses of essential oil are safe, enjoyable and very effective in helping anybody who is unable to sleep for a few nights; but if insomnia is a long-term problem, simply relying on baths and other uses of essential oils night after night, is little better than taking prescribed pills. The underlying causes should be sought and remedied.

Very often, relatively simple physical reasons can be found for insomnia, such as a sedentary lifestyle, unsuitable diet, stimulating drinks such as tea or coffee late in the evening, an uncomfortable bed or some other physical discomfort; and more exercise, lighter suppers, a change of mattress and so forth may be all that is needed to put matters right.

However, insomnia is increasingly caused by the anxieties and stresses of modern living and here some form of structured relaxation may be helpful. Yoga, meditation, and breathing techniques can all be very helpful, but perhaps the best approach of all is regular aromatherapy massage. The combination of gentle, therapeutic touch and deeply relaxing essential oils will work on both mind and body to reduce the level of stress, and sleep will follow quite naturally. Most people feel very relaxed, and possibly drowsy, after such a massage, and an evening massage given at home is obviously the very best therapy. But even if it is necessary to visit a salon or clinic earlier in the day, the benefits of increased relaxation will last for many hours, or even days, and combine ideally with aromatic baths. A single massage session will often break the vicious circle of sleeplessness though a course of treatment is obviously better if insomnia has persisted for a long time. The benefits of massage are cumulative, with really significant reduction in stress being experienced after several sessions.

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