Shortly after you crawl into bed, do you often realize that your eyes are still open? Me too. Welcome to the can’t-relax club. As a card-carrying member, I’ve tried nearly everything, even a noise machine, and still have trouble winding down and falling asleep. I'm not into the idea of taking sleeping medication, and am always looking for sleep aids. Tata Harper, founder of the 100% natural, nontoxic eponymous skin care line, touts a different approach to catching Z's, and one I can get on board with: aromatherapy.
You’ve all heard the word before, but if you don't know exactly what it means, aromatherapy is an alternative form of medicine. In aromatherapy, you use plant-derived essential oils topically, and the idea is that they work with your olfactory [smell] senses to improve mood, cognitive behavior, breathing, and overall health. Harper describes how it works this way: “Ten million olfactory nerves carry scent molecules through the nasal cavity, and signals are sent to our mood center. The limbic system then releases neurotransmitters that produce certain feelings in our mind and body.”
Skeptical? Studies have shown that being exposed to certain essential oils like lavender or orange can help improve cognitive functions. In a 2007 study, cancer patients who were massaged with aromatic oils saw a significant improvement in anxiety and depression—two things that can also interfere with getting a good night’s sleep.
And as you all know, sleep is a priority when it comes to beauty. That’s when your body goes into repair mode and skin is regenerated, and new cells replace old ones. “The good thing is, tired skin can recover quickly, with just a couple of 7-8 hour nights of sleep,” says Harper. At this rate, I’ll give any product that claims to help me sleep a go. So I picked up Harper's roll-on aromatherapy treatments, which came out earlier this year, for a test run.
The line includes three different products: the Aromatic Bedtime Treatment, Aromatic Irritability Treatment, and Aromatic Stress Treatment. Each comes little 0.16-oz roll-on is packed with up to a dozen carefully chosen natural ingredients and concentrated, high-quality essential oils (like lavender, linden blossom, and mandarin) that are known to relax the mind and body.
These are designed to be used before bed or during a stressful time. All you do is apply the oils to high-blood-flow pressure points (wrists, neck, bottoms of feet, and temples), take a few breaths, and the oils will begin to work!
I found that after using the Bedtime and Stress oils consistently before bed, they worked for me. It may be because I began to associate the scents with a good night’s rest. The smell is pretty potent when you first apply them, but the oils absorb quickly into the skin, leaving a much more tolerable scent. But after putting on the Bedtime and Stress, I feel instant calming effects, and since using them, I've actually been sleeping better. I also love that you can even mix a few drops into a warm bath to maximize all of the oils’ benefits. Even though they are a bit of a splurge ($65 each) I definitely plan to keep using them when need be—after a bad work day or what have you. And I’m even considering trying other forms of alternative medicine like acupuncture, since I’m so pleased with the results.
I tried the Irritability product, too, and didn't notice an effect immediately (for me, perhaps, it takes more than a roll-on oil to snap out of a bad mood, but Harper says she's actually used it to help calm a fussy child). Still, any of these little potions might be just the thing to have on hand for a stressful or insomniac spell.
Have you tried aromatherapy products to lull you to sleep? Let us know in the comments!