This page gives information on the importance of sleep, and resources to help us manage and maintain our sleep pattern in the home confinement period.
Our sleep activity protects and rejuvenates us. By protecting the quality of our sleep we are helping us to protect ourselves.
In stressful and challenging times, our sleep may become disrupted. Sleep plays a vital part in our well-being. It regulates us. It recharges our brain and body, rejuvenating us. Without it, or when it is disrupted, toxins build up which negatively impact our thinking, feelings and behaviours. Without sleep, our decision making is poor, and we don’t have the elasticity to cope with the things that stressful times may require of us.
Ensuring that we can experience the restorative benefits of sleep is vital, as a foundational protective factor against stress. It is normal when we experience an event like the home confinement period, that we have issues with our sleep. This page gives some resources to help us sleep better in times like this.
Self-soothing, sensory activities, like on the coping skills page, are perfect for helping our sleep routines, as they help us to relax. Relaxation is a key physical process needed for encouraging us to fall asleep and to stay asleep. We can prepare our body and mind to embark on our journey into restful sleep.
Here is a fantastic sensory resource from qualified aromatherapist Lindsey, the founder of Akamuti. Akamuti is a natural beauty award winner company in West Wales, that specialises in organic and natural skincare. Lindsey’s resource is called “Sweet Sleep” and uses aromatherapy oils to help promote sleep and relaxation.
Sweet Sleep by Lindsey @ Akamuti.
It’s been an exhausting day. You want nothing more than to collapse into bed and sleep for a decade. But you just need to check Facebook one last time before you close your eyes… And compose that email to your colleague in your head… And worry whether you snapped at the kids too much over dinner… And try to figure out how you would run the country better if you were prime minister. Before you know it, it’s 2am and you’re still tossing and turning.
There are links on this page to all of the Akamuti oils and beauty products that Lindsey mentions in her article here.
If this scenario sounds all too familiar, you’re certainly not alone. But a lack of sleep really does affect so many parts of our waking life, from our ability to concentrate, to our metabolism. You might want to consider aromatherapy. While aromatherapy oils can’t cure insomnia, they may help your mind and body to relax enough to get a good night’s sleep. Oils to try include…
Lavender gets added to lots of baby bath gels, which isn’t surprising, as it really is one of the best essential oils for helping you to sleep. It’s also anti-bacterial and very calming.
Ylang ylang’s beautiful floral smell has been used in perfumes for millennia, but it’s also a great stress reliever, helping you to relax and unwind.
Chamomile is well known for its calming properties; who hasn’t dabbed it onto chicken pox spots, or an irritating skin rash at some point? What’s less known is that the smell itself can help to calm and soothe the senses.
Spikenard has an earthy, woody kind of smell. It’s used to aid relaxation and is one of the best oils for promoting a good night’s sleep. Spikenard is ideal if you’re not keen on floral fragrances.
Another earthy fragrance, vetivert is known as the ‘oil of tranquility’ in India. It can help you to relax and is an effective stress reliever.
Rose otto has antidepressant qualities and can help to alleviate anxiety. So, if you can’t sleep because you’re feeling stressed or worried, you may well find that rose otto can help.
Of course, you don’t have to use individual oils on their own. Chamomile, lavender and ylang ylang is a great combination, as is vetivert, lavender and ylang ylang. Half the fun of aromatherapy is creating your own blends – a few drops of this, a couple of drops of that, until you find a fragrance that works for you, and that you love to inhale.
How to use aromatherapy oils for sleep and relaxation
- Many people find that a warm bath aids relaxation and makes it easier to drop off to sleep. If you’re one of them, try adding a few drops of your chosen oil to the bath. Or, even easier, just add a spoonful of our Fragrant Tranquility Bath Salts, which contain several pure essential oils, including lavender and ylang ylang.
- How about adding a few drops of essential oil to a carrier oil and asking your other half for a massage?
- You can also try an electronic aroma diffuser, which works by releasing a light mist of water mixed with essential oil. These diffusers also add moisture to the air, which can help to improve sleep. Do look for one with a timer however, in case it works too well and you fall asleep before turning it off.
- Some oils can be dabbed directly onto the skin – to the pulse points or solar plexus. Do be careful not to overdo it, however, or you risk irritating your skin.
- One of the simplest ways to use essential oils is to just dab a few drops on a hanky and keep it beside your pillow.
- Try our Lavender Aromatic Roll-On, which can be used on pulse points before bed, or at any time of the day when you need help relaxing.
- While an oil burner or candle is a great way to help the scent to fill your room, there are obvious dangers with using them straight before sleeping. So, it’s best to light one in your living room in the evening, making sure to blow the candle out before you go to bed.
Still struggling to sleep? The tips below might help:
Ditch the technology
Studies have proven that technology can affect sleep, so try to turn your phone, tablet, laptop and so on off before you go to bed. Both the light and the mental stimulation can keep your awake.
Forgo the cocoa
Hot chocolate is a real treat, but it’s packed with sugar and caffeine, so may be stopping you from sleeping.
Write down your worries
If you wake up in the night plagued by worries about the next day, it can sometimes help to keep a notebook to hand. Write down anything you’re worried you might forget, whether it’s paying a bill or an email you need to send. Your brain may then find it easier to take a rest.
Time to switch off
If your mind is still racing, you could try some gentle relaxation exercises.
SELF-SOOTHE for gentle relaxation. We can use our senses to help “self-soothe” ourselves. Sensory-based activities can help to support our mind to calm down and also help our bodily relaxation. Try out the self-soothing activities on the coping skills page, in section 3, for some gentle relaxation.
To help relax, resettle and self-soothe within a broken night’s sleep.
For broken sleep, use any of the activities above to help relax and resettle yourself. There is also a “midnight and early hours” sensory den activity on the coping skills page. This activity is at the bottom of the “creating our sensory den space”, in section 4 on the page, for you to try out and explore.
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Harvard Medical School. 2019. Sleep and mental health. Sleep deprivation can effect your mental health. Harvard. Harvard health Publishing.
Haspel et al. 2020. Perfect timing. Circadian rhythms, sleep and immunity – an NIH workshop activity. JCI Insight, 5 (1), e131487. doi: 10.1172/jci.insight.131487
Kalmbach, D.A., Anderson, J.R. and Drake, C.L. 2018. The impact of stress on sleep. Pathogenic sleep reactivity as a vulnerability to insomnia and circadian disorders. J Sleep Res, 27 (6), doi: 10.1111/jsr.12710
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Soden, K., Vincent, K., Craske, S., Lucas, C. and Ashley, S. 2004. A randomised controlled trial of aromatherapy massage in a hospice setting. Palliative Medicine, 18, pp. 87-92.