I think everyone at some time in their life has experienced difficulty in sleeping and this is where essential oils and aromatherapy might be of benefit. 

We all want to feel restored and refreshed when we wake up in the morning but there are many who are sleep deprived and struggle through the next day. We may put it down to stress, either work or family related or some might have 'always felt this way' and had no idea that it should feel differently. 

The short-term effects are many:

Decreased Performance and Alertness: Sleep deprivation induces significant reductions in performance and alertness. Reducing your nighttime sleep by as little as one and a half hours for just one night could result in a reduction of daytime alertness by as much as 32%.

Memory and Cognitive Impairment: Decreased alertness and excessive daytime sleepiness impair your memory and your cognitive ability -- your ability to think and process information.

Stress Relationships: Disruption of a bed partner's sleep due to a sleep disorder may cause significant problems for the relationship (for example, separate bedrooms, conflicts, moodiness, etc.).

Poor Quality of Life: You might, for example, be unable to participate in certain activities that require sustained attention, like going to the movies, seeing your child in a school play, or watching a favorite TV show.

Occupational Injury: Excessive sleepiness also contributes to a greater than twofold higher risk of sustaining an occupational injury.

Motor Vehicle Injury: If you drive after 17 hours without sleep, your performance is as bad as driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.05 percent. Getting up at 7 in the morning, staying awake during the day, going out in the evening and then driving home at midnight gets you to this level. Twenty four hours without sleep is as dangerous as driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.10 percent.

Essential Oils with Sedative Effects

An article in the 1988 International Journal of Aromatherapy (Tisserand 1988) started with the headline: "Lavender Beats Benzodiazepines" and mentioned the use of essential oils as sedatives in a hospital setting. 

They especially mentioned the following essential oils - lavender, marjoram, geranium, mandarin and cardamom.

Helen Passant, an amazing and far-sighted nurse gradually replaced analgesia and night sedation with essential oils. She found her patients seemed to "get off to sleep just as easily, if not better with oils of lavender and marjoram either vapourised or massaged into the skin. And what is more interesting is that the patients were given the option of aromatherapy instead of night sedation or analgesics and nearly all of them chose the aromatherapy approach.

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) has traditionally been used in aromatherapy to promote sleep and relaxation and to relieve anxiety. Linalol and terpineol are the active components of lavender and these seem to have a depressing effect on the Central Nervous System. Other studies have included neroli, marjoram and geranium essential oils which have been shown to help as well.

So next time you feel tense or anxious and are worried that you may not sleep well why not try aromatherapy. It just might work for you.