Ask The Pharmacist: Essential oils to help you relax, sleep

Suzy Cohen

One of the most powerful attributes of essential oils is that they contain powerful compounds with constituents in them that promote relaxation.

It’s fun to experiment with oils because they work! Doctors from around the world have used oils to relax patients prior to surgery, ease depression and anxiety and impact GABA receptors, which calm us down. Fragrances instead of pills, it’s a novel idea, right?! 

The interest in essential oils has been rising in recent years, Google Trends says, and has hit a new high this year.

In one fascinating study, researchers learned that sniffing jasmine essential oil may be as effective as commonly prescribed barbiturates or benzodiazepines when it comes to inducing calm and sleepiness. 

Essential oils do not pose serious adverse health risks or side effects such as daytime drowsiness, morning hangovers or tolerance withdrawal. Also, unlike OTC sleep aids, they don’t induce anticholinergic side effects such as constipation, blurry vision and dry mouth. 

The easiest way to get essential oils into your blood stream within seconds is to inhale them. Pour a few drops onto the palms of your hands, rub together and inhale deeply. Do this three to five times then rub your palms onto your neck, or the bottoms of your feet. 

Decorative items that include essential oils for customers to use.

My favorite way to use essential oils at night is in a diffuser. You can add a few different oils to the diffuser and enjoy better sleep. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Lavender dreams

If there’s one, number one proven oil to relax the body and mind, ease melancholy, and enhance sleep, it’s lavender.

Combine lavender essential oils with any number of other oils for great sleep. For example, you could mix it with vetiver, frankincense or calendula.

My favorite is three drops lavender combined with three drops sandalwood (equal mix) plus 1 drop of bergamot, all in my little diffuser by the bed. I nicknamed it lavender dreams, lol. 

Used carefully and thoughtfully, essential oils can greatly improve your physical and emotional health

Sleep like a baby blend 

Another blend for enhanced sleep and relaxation is below. Depending on the size of your diffuser, you may want to use fewer drops, but either way, keep the ratio the same: 

  • 4 drops clary sage essential oil
  • 4 drops ylang-ylang essential oil
  • 4 drops of Roman chamomile
  • 2 drops wild orange (or bergamot)

Clary sage, ylang-ylang, and Roman chamomile are wonder ingredients for promoting relaxation, curbing anxiety, and clary sage is especially effective for helping women balance hormones, including fat-storing cortisol, which leads to belly fat.

We've rounded up how to use essential oils, which have been making a splash in the wellness market.

The knock-out blend 

For when sleep seems the farthest thing from your mind, and you’ve been in front of that computer all day, with all that circadian-disrupting blue light pouring into your eyeballs, this is the blend I really recommend.

Combine three drops each of frankincense, bergamot, and sandalwood essential oils.  

Instead of filling your home with synthetic perfumes that have hundreds of strange artificial chemicals, try natural essential oils. 

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Suzy Cohen is a registered pharmacist. The information presented here is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose any condition. Visit