14 Best Essential Oils for Sleep That Are Proven to Work by Science

By using an essential oil, you could relax your mind, body and train your brain to associate sleep with a certain smell. Helping to build a strong sleep routine.

Updated: April 16, 2020

How much sleep did you get last night?

It’s certainly no secret that getting a good night of sleep has amazing health benefits. Not only do you feel more awake and focused in the morning, but you also get sick less often, maintain a healthy weight, and lower your risk for diabetes and heart disease.

But getting a good night’s sleep isn’t always easy. When you’re stressed about school, work, the kids, the bills, your health, or a myriad of other things, sleep can be the last thing on your mind.

There are many ways to try and get a better night’s sleep, and essential oils is one of the best. It isn’t expensive, you can often find it at your local grocery or health foods store, and it’s easy to use. Have you thought about giving essential oils a try?

There’s many to choose from and several ways to use them. Review our guide to find your perfect starting point.

Best Essential Oil For Sleep Overall – Editor’s Pick

To help improve your sleep, start with lavender essential oil. It is the most well-researched of all the oil options, and has had the best results for the most people.

When shopping for pure lavender oil, no other ingredients should be listed. This is best for diluting on your own at home, or for using in a diffuser or bath soak. If, however, you prefer a  pre-diluted solution, such as a roll-on for topical application, the ingredients label may include coconut oil, jojoba oil, or sweet almond oil.

Lavender essential oil works well as a bug repellant, aids sleep, encourages a healthy nervous system, and can be used as an acne treatment. Used improperly, it can lead to hormonal growth issues in young males, skin irritations, or nausea.

Purchasing lavender oil is a budget-friendly way to improve sleep. A one ounce bottle of pure lavender oil can cost as little as $6. A pre-diluted roll-on of lavender oil for topical applications can cost $10.

Top 14 Best Essential Oils for Sleep

Best Essential Oils for Sleep - Hands running through lavender.
  • Lavender – This essential oil is one of the most widely used in aromatherapy because users tend to have the best results with it.
  • Valerian – Has an earthy aroma and promotes relaxation and eases restlessness to help you fall asleep. Works well when massaged on feet.
  • Clary Sage – Better for sleep than regular sage, this is great for calming skin inflammation and as an antidepressant for menopausal women.
  • Sweet Marjoram – Helps revitalize the body and brings calm and peace with a pleasant and classy scent. Perfect for insomnia.
  • Roman Chamomile – Soothing apple aroma relaxes and calms the mind. Great for use with babies and toddlers and those who experience insomnia, anxiety, and nightmares.
  • Bergamot – Unlike most citrus-scented oils, this calming oil reduces anxiety and stress which alleviates depression and allows better sleep.
  • Peppermint – Relieves physical pains, mental fatigue, and skin irritations. Rub a drop inside or under your nose to reduce snoring and prevent sleep apnea.
  • Olive – This is deal as a massage oil for reducing muscle pains and cramps. Can also be used as snoring or sleep apnea aid.
  • Cedarwood – Derived from cedar tress, use this oil to cleanse the bedroom, activate the mind, and relax the body. Also good for skin irritations.
  • Vanilla – With a very cozy and relaxing scent, this oil lowers blood pressure, inflammation, and depression to help induce sleep.
  • Rose/Geranium – Generates relaxation, emotional stability, and optimism to calm and balance the mind with a mild sedative effect.
  • Jasmine – Popular for its use in Chanel No. 5, this oil can be used as an antidepressant that relieves stress and improves mood.
  • Neroli – Extracted from the flowers of bitter orange trees, this oil reduces depression, anxiety, and high blood pressure to aid sleep.
  • Ylang Ylang – This floral-scented oil has a mild sedative that helps to calm the nervous system and promote relaxation.

8 Health Issues Essential Oils Can Help Treat

Sleep oils have shown positive effects with some people who have self-reported sleep issues. The are various sleep-related problems oils can help to improve.

Bush with neon lights saying "and breathe".
  • Sleep apnea – Best used in a humidifier, essential oils can diffuse into the air to open airways and strengthen breathing.
  • Anxiety/depression – Aromatherapy with therapeutic massage has been shown to decrease depressive symptoms in some patients (source).
  • Sleep quality – Inhaling essential oils before bed and sleeping next to a source can greatly increase the quality of sleep (source).
  • Relaxation – Adding a few drops of essential oils to a warm bath is an easy way to relax before going to bed.
  • Babies, toddlers and infants sleep problems – Chamomile and lavender are often found in baby products to aid sleep.
  • Insomnia – Using essential oils before bed helps you to relax the mind which can help you fall asleep faster.
  • Mild pain relief – Some essential oils can help relieve pain in joints and muscles so you can relax.
  • Aromatherapy – Dating back to 3500 BC, essential oils have been used to treat a variety of ailments (source).

4 Ways Sleep Oils Are Made

  • Distillation – This is the most popular method for creating essential oils. It uses steam to vaporize the source plant’s volatile compounds. It then condenses and is collected as a liquid.
  • Expression – This method is used for citrus fruits. The oils are released by grating or scraping the peel of the fruit, much like zesting while cooking.
  • Solvent extraction – The source plant is mixed with a solvent such as petroleum ether, methanol, ethanol, or hexane, to separate it into a usable essential oil.
  • Florasols extraction – This is a specific type of solvent extraction where the solvent being used to mix with the source plant is called florasols.

Because the oil is such a small part of the source plant, to create just one pound of essential oil, you may need 250 pounds of lavender, 10,000 pounds of rose petals, or 1,500 lemons.

Best Essential Oils for Sleep Recipe

Mixing bowl with flowers and oil.

Every person’s sleep is unique and the beautiful thing about essential oils is all the ways to experiment. Try one of these blends in your diffuser, warm bath, or on a cotton ball and inhale.

  • For peace and calm, combine three drops of lavender with two drops of sweet marjoram.
  • To clear the air in your room, combine five drops of eucalyptus with four drops of peppermint, and four drops of lavender.
  • If a racing mind is keeping you up at night, combine four drops of frankincense with four drops of cedarwood, three drops of rosemary, and two drops of peppermint.
  • If you’re really struggling to sleep, try combining five drops of lavender, four drops of sweet marjoram, two drops of cedarwood, two drops of eucalyptus, and one drop of frankincense.

Essential oils are highly versatile so try coming up with your own blends to see what works for you!

4 Ways to Use Essential Oils for Sleep

  • The most common method for using essential oils is to add a few drops to the water of an air diffuser, turn it on, and enjoy!
  • Massage into hands, forehead, neck, wrists, feet, and chest to feel relief in five minutes (source).
  • Adding a few drops of oil to your bath water works double duty to relax you through the oils and warm water.
  • An essential oil blend sprayed on your pillow can be inhaled and help ease you into sleep at night.

To maintain freshness and effectiveness, essential oils should be stored in a cool, dry place that is out of direct sunlight.

Carrier oils are blended for better dilution of essential oils. This can also help avoid skin irritation from the potency of essential oils.

Practice proper safety methods when storing and diluting essential oils at home. Use this guide as a reference, if needed.

Why You Should Avoid Citrus-Scented Oils

Citrus fruit cut in half.

Citrus oils such as lemon, orange, and grapefruit can increase your body’s production of serotonin, which is a hormone that aids feelings of happiness. It also reduces norepinephrine, a hormone that’s secreted during stress.

Lemon is particularly useful at increasing mental stimulation. Although these qualities have their time and place, right before bed is not the best. For this reason, avoid using citrus-scented oils when trying to sleep and instead save them for morning when you need extra help waking up.

The primary exception to this rule is bergamot, an Italian citrus fruit common in holistic medicine. Using this essential oil will help you prepare for a better night’s sleep by slowing your heart rate, decreasing blood pressure, and reducing anxiety and stress.

Risks and Possible Side Effects of Essential Oils

Single flame.
  • Due to the potency of essential oils, they can cause skin irritation if used too frequently or too heavily on the skin.
  • If a dilution of essential oils is too strong, it can lead to negative health effects. Always check and test your oils before use.
  • Essential oils are meant to be inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Ingesting oils can cause stomach ache and nausea.
  • Lavender, chamomile, and ylang ylang are all safe essential oils to use during pregnancy, but only after the first trimester
  • Essential oils are highly flammable so it’s important to take care when using them, cleaning up a spill, and storing them.
  • Studies have shown cases of gynecomastia in pre-pubescent males who used lavender and tea tree oils (source).
  • There have been instances of pesticide residue in certain methods of producing essential oils, but they are generally safe to use (source).

Are You Ready to Get Better Sleep?

Lavender is likely the first essential oil you’ll try, but chamomile, peppermint, vanilla, and rose are also easy to come by. Visit your grocery store or local health foods store in person, or shop online at your favorite retailer such as Amazon, Target, or Whole Foods.

There are many ways to begin your journey to a more restful night of sleep with essential oils. Whether you start with lavender, bergamot, peppermint, or another oil, you can always add other oils or methods to find the perfect combination that puts you right to sleep. Your body and mind will definitely thank you with increased vitality and health.