12 Best Essential Oils for Relaxation and Sleep

What are the 12 best essential oils for relaxation and sleep? There are a few things more frustrating than tossing and turning in bed at night. Especially after a long, busy day at work or school, you want to get the most relaxing sleep ever. However, with all the pressures and busy schedules of the modern world, most of us find sleep quite hard to come by.  

Yet, it is important that you get good sleep every night. Lack of sleep not only increases the chances of your blood pressure going up but also reduces the effectiveness of your immune system, making you prone to numerous health issues. More so, failure to get enough sleep affects your mental and emotional well-being, impacting your productivity at work. 

But what if you just can’t seem to get quality sleep no matter how hard you try? Does it mean that you are doomed to poor quality sleep and all the associated health problems? Absolutely not! Thankfully, there are several natural methods that can help you improve the quality of your sleep.  

One of the most recommended methods of promoting quality sleep is using essential oils for relaxation and sleep. As most people say, a few drops of essential oils are all it takes to give you a good night’s sleep. 

But what exactly are essential oils? And how can you use these to promote better sleep? This article discusses everything you need to know about essential oils, as well as the Best Essential Oils for Relaxation and Sleep. Read on! 

What Are Essential Oils? 

Essential oils are concentrated oils extracted directly from plants. They are obtained from different parts of plants, such as the leaves, stems, flowers, buds, seeds, roots, or twigs. The extraction process is done in such a way that the oils retain their original properties, such as their natural flavors and smells.  

Essential oils are among the best gifts for anxiety and have found a wide range of uses in modern living; enhancing the quality of sleep is one of their main uses. These oils have soothing properties which help prevent insomnia, improve sleep and reduce anxiety. Also, essential oils have the ability to clear airways, preventing sleep apnea, snoring, and other sleep-related disruptions. 

Furthermore, some essential oils have been proven to aid in stress and anxiety relief. They minimize inflammations, reduce pain and improve a person’s mood. All these benefits encourage a more relaxed state of mind, which is very crucial for good, quality sleep.

Best Essential Oils for a Better Night’s Sleep 

There are hundreds of essential oils extracted from different plants. However, not all these oils offer significant benefits when it comes to aiding your sleep. So if you wish to use essential oils to specifically improve your quality of sleep, you need to find the best and most effective oils. 

Here are 12 of the Best Essential Oils for Relaxation and Sleep: 

1.  Lavender Oil 

Lavender has gained a lot of popularity for its great effectiveness in keeping insomnia at bay. The ability of the oil is to promote good sleep can be attributed to the many other associated benefits that it offers.  

For example, lavender oil helps to lower blood pressure, and heart rate, and body temperature. All these processes are what the body goes through when you are falling asleep. Therefore, by lowering these, lavender oil makes it much easier for you to fall and stay asleep. 

Also, lavender is known for its relaxing properties. In addition to soothing your mind, this essential oil helps to reduce stress and anxiety. This is because lavender oil consists of linalool; a component that aids in anxiety relief. 

Stress has been ranked as one of the leading causes of insomnia and other sleep disorders. Hence, when your stress and anxiety levels are reduced, you can get enough, restful sleep. Lavender oil is usually included in teas, lotions, perfumes, and soaps. And as an added advantage, lavender provides a sweet, floral fragrance; an appealing scent that can help you relax just by smelling it! 

2.  Valerian Oil 

Valerian essential oil has a deeply calming effect on the body. Just like marjoram oil, this oil not only prepares you to sleep but also ensures you stay asleep throughout the night. It consists of valerenic acid, which is known to induce sleep. 

Also, valerian oil has a similar function as that of anti-anxiety medicines. It alleviates stress and tension, such that your brain relaxes and calms down just before your bedtime. More so, the essential oil has a sedative effect on the body. It makes you feel grounded, making it easier to drift off to sleep. It is no wonder that valerian oil is used as a key ingredient in nighttime teas. 

The only drawback about valerian oil is its pungent scent. The strong scent might not prove very appealing to most people. However, you can easily diffuse this scent by blending valerian oil with other essential oils, such as cedarwood and lavender oils. 

3. Ylang Ylang Oil 

Ylang ylang oil is extracted from tropical trees in Asia, specifically the ylang-ylang fruit of Canaga trees. It helps to lower heart rate and blood pressure. In turn, a reduced heart rate and blood pressure prepare your body to sleep, such that you drift easily into the Z’s and stay asleep for longer. 

Ylang ylang oil has a very strong, sweet, and fruity floral fragrance. This pleasing scent alone is enough to calm and help you relax. However, if you are the sort that prefers lighter, delicate fragrances, ylang ylang oil may not be the best for you. 

This essential oil also offers additional benefits, such as minimizing pain, alleviating stress, and improving moods. These properties provide insomnia relief to some extent. Ylang ylang oil is especially beneficial when combined with other types of oils, such as lemon, bergamot, cedarwood, or lavender oil. Making a blend of this oil with other oils also helps to tone down its strong fragrance. 

It is important to note that ylang ylang essential oil can irritate sensitive skin. Therefore, you should avoid applying the oil directly onto your skin. Also, since aromatherapy materials tend to be toxic to dogs and pets, remember to keep these away from the reach of your pets. 

4.  Eucalyptus Oil 

Eucalyptus oil works in a similar manner as peppermint oil. Just like the latter, eucalyptus has sinus-clearing properties, as well as a natural, sweet aroma that calms the brain. Therefore, if you suffer from asthmatic conditions or tend to produce excess phlegm when about to sleep, you need to start using eucalyptus oil. 

5.  Chamomile Oil 

Unlike most other essential oils, chamomile oil offers minimal direct benefits when it comes to regulating body temperatures and lowering blood pressure. However, the subtle floral aroma that this oil produces has significant relaxing and calming effects on the brain.  

Chamomile oil can also help to reduce anxiety. For example, Roman chamomile is mainly used in herbal medicine to stave off anxiety and reduce stress levels. It is considered a mild sedative, which is why you most probably feel drowsy after sipping on a cup of Roman chamomile tea. 

By warding off stress, the essential oil prevents depression; a condition that greatly contributes to sleep insomnia. More so, this particular type of chamomile oil has a fresh, apple-tinged scent which also brings about a calming effect on the brain. It is also gentle enough to be used by young kids. 

According to a research study by Trusted Source, chamomile oil can help to reduce nervousness. Nervousness usually leads to anxiety, which makes it more difficult to fall asleep. More so, it is believed that chamomile might reduce nightmares. The essential oil works best when blended with neroli and lavender essential oils.  

6.  Vetiver Oil 

Vetiver essential oil has a deep, earthy fragrance. And while its aroma may not be everyone’s ‘cup of tea’, the significant benefits provided by the oil are 100% guaranteed. Vetiver oil can help you relax by slowing your brain activity. By so doing, the essential oil helps you stop dwelling on the daily stresses and other anxieties that may be weighing on your mind. 

To use vetiver oil, diffuse it into the air right before your bedtime. As you inhale it, the oil will provide a calming effect on your brain. Hence, you will be able to fall asleep faster and wake up feeling all rested and relaxed. 

7.  Cedarwood Oil 

Cedarwood oil has a similar natural, woodsy aroma as that of sandalwood oil. And while cedarwood is not as effective as sandalwood essential oil, it is much more affordable. This makes it a better alternative for easing stress and promoting better sleep. The essential oil has sedative effects on the body, as well as the ability to reduce stress. 

Cedarwood oil is especially recommended for those who prefer more natural fragrances to citrus or floral aromas. Also, for older adults dealing with dementia, a blend of Virginia cedarwood, pine oil, and Japanese cypress can help to improve their quality of sleep. For other users, you can either apply the oil typically or blend it with chamomile oil for more effective results.  

However, you should not use the oil directly on the skin, as it could increase photosensitivity. Rather, when you decide to blend cedarwood oil with chamomile, diffuse it in the air, such that you inhale it when sleeping. 

8.  Peppermint Oil 

Peppermint helps to clear your head, helping you manage all stress and anxiety habits. The less stressed you are, the easier it will be for you to fall asleep. This essential oil also helps to relieve sore nasal passages and clear the airways. In turn, this prevents conditions, such as sleep apnea and snoring which interfere with the sleep cycle. 

Peppermint oil has a pleasant and relaxing aroma. More so, if you suffer from dust sensitivity or seasonal allergies, the oil can help you find some relief. Simply diffuse some of this essential oil to the air in the room, and you will be able to sleep very comfortably.  

9.  Clary Sage Oil 

Are you battling depression? Since depression usually goes hand in hand with loss of sleep what you need to deal with your condition is the Clary sage oil. Unlike other regular sage oils, clary sage oil helps to combat bad, negative thoughts. It soothes your troubled mind, giving you enough calm and peace to ensure a restful slumber. 

In addition to having anti-depressant effects, Clary sage oil is also a natural sedative. More so, it reduces the levels of cortisol hormone in the body. Elevated levels of cortisol lead to increased anxiety, in turn hindering sleep. Therefore, by lowering cortisol, clary sage essential oil alleviates stress and promotes better, relaxing sleep. 

10.  Bergamot Oil 

Bergamot oil is known for its anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Just like ylang ylang and lavender essential oils, it reduces the heart rate and blood pressure. In turn, this allows the body to drift easily and gradually into sleep.  

Despite being a citrus fruit, bergamot has calming effects on the body (most citrus fruits tend to stimulate the body and give it an energy boost, rather than calm it). This essential oil does reduce stressful thoughts, ensuring that you sleep peacefully all through the night.  

If you have ever had a cup of Earl Grey tea, then you already know the scent of bergamot. This plant-based oil has a unique flavor and scent, all of which bring about a calm and relaxing feel among users. Bergamot oil works best when blended with other relaxing oils, such as melissa (or lemon balm), ylang ylang, clary sage, and lavender oil. 

However, note that bergamot oil is quite photosensitive. Therefore, avoid applying this essential oil if you plan on going outside. The best way to use this oil would be to pour several drops into hot water, then breathe in the steam for a few minutes. Such aromatherapy will allow you to sleep almost immediately after going to bed. 

11.  Marjoram Oil 

Marjoram oil functions quite differently from other types of essential oils. While other oils make you drowsy and prepare you to sleep, marjoram oil actually keeps you asleep. Its sweet fragrance has calming effects on the body; it soothes a person both mentally and physically. 

When your brain is calm and relaxed, your body is then able to fall into a deep, peaceful sleep. In other words, marjoram oil gives to promote the deep kind of sleep that truly heals and recharges your body. And as a buying guide, the sweeter the marjoram essential oil, the more effective it is as a sleeping aid. 

12.  Sandalwood Oil 

Sandalwood is rich in scent; the scent can be described as being earthy and woody. It has proven to be very effective in reducing stress levels and anxiety. Also, this essential oil is believed to have sedative properties, which reduce wakefulness at night. It is such wakefulness that causes most people to keep turning and tossing at night. 

Besides, sandalwood is known to have mood-balancing properties. The fact that this oil can even you out emotionally makes it better and more unique than other essential oils, including those that have low blood pressure and heart rate.  

Therefore, even if you decide to use other essential oils to help you sleep, make sure to add a little sandalwood oil as an ingredient in the blend. However, this essential oil is usually sold at a costlier price than most other plant-based oil extracts. 

How to Use Essential Oils for Relaxation and Sleep 

Are you thinking of using essential oils to help you relax and sleep better? Well, you have different options when it comes to using these. The following are the four most common types of essential oils for aiding sleep.

One little secret: sleeping with a weighted blanket for adults can also help you to further promote relaxation and improve your sleep quality. Given their therapeutic effect, weighted blankets for anxiety can be an excellent complement to essential oils for relaxation

A. Diffusers 

With these types of essential oils, you simply need to add a few drops to a diffuser. You may add either the pure plant-based oil or its blend into the diffuser. Also, it is advisable that you add the essential diffuser oil as your bedtime approaches and leave the diffuser running as you sleep. 

However, diffusers should only be used intermittently. Therefore, if you are planning to leave it on throughout the night, you would do well to go for a diffuser with a timer. Also, make sure to buy essential diffuser oils that are safe for inhaling, both for people and pets. 

B. Massage 

Massage, whether self or partner massage, is in itself relaxing. Therefore, by using essential oils, you make massage much more effective when it comes to relieving stress and promoting better sleep.  

To make massage oil, add a tablespoon of carrier oil to a few drops of essential oil. Examples of carrier oils you can use include coconut, olive, sweet almond oil, and grape seed. Using this diluted mixture, massage your shoulders, chest, neck, feet, back of your neck, and any other tense body areas. The oils will absorb into your skin, providing long-lasting health benefits through the night. 

C. Evaporated Oils 

For DIY aromatherapy, add a few drops of oil to a cotton ball, washcloth, handkerchief, or fabric scrap. Then, let the cloth or cotton ball dry and keep it in an open place in your bedroom, especially near your bed. For example, you can leave it by the bedside or tuck it in the pillowcase. 

However, if you are planning to add some drops of essential oils onto your pillowcases, do a patch test first. A patch test ensures that the oil does not irritate your skin at all. To carry out an effective patch test, follow the steps below: 

  • Dilute your preferred oil in a carrier oil – You are recommended to use 1 drop of oil for every 30 drops of carrier oil. 
  • Using a cotton swab or cotton ball, apply a little amount of this oil to your forearm or inner elbow. To keep your forearm (or inner elbow) clean and dry, cover it with a bandage – Alternatively, you can apply the diluted oil directly to the bandage, then attach it to the forearm. 
  • Leave the bandage for 24-48 hours – If you do not see any itching, swelling, redness or any form of skin irritation during this period, the essential oil is most probably safe to use. 

D. Baths 

These types of essential oils are ideal for people who have a warm bath as part of their nightly routine. The heat in the water usually activates these oils, ensuring that they function well and promote drowsiness. 

Add warm water into your bathtub. Then, dilute 1 tablespoon of carrier oil (or liquid soap) with 3 drops of essential oil. Diluting the essential oils is more of a rule than an option. After all, adding the oil directly to the bath undiluted could cause major skin irritation. 

Also, make sure to swirl the mixture thoroughly before getting into the bathtub. In place of a bathtub, you can still use a large bowl, especially if you intend to get a relaxing foot bath. And even if you lack any essential bath oils, you can still use chamomile or lavender tea bags in the warm bath; these will offer you just as effective sleep benefits. 

Safety Tips for Using Essential Oils 

Essential oils offer numerous health benefits. However, they also do pose some risks when mishandled. Here are some safety considerations that can help you use essential oils safely and effectively: 

  • Never ingest essential oils. 
  • Do not apply photo-toxic essential oils directly to your skin. 
  • Keep all essential oils (both diluted and undiluted) away from the eyes. 
  • If you have any allergies, sensitive skin, or underlying health conditions, first talk to your doctor before using any essential oil. Similarly, talk to your doctor if you are planning to use the oils while pregnant. 
  • Always dilute the essential oils with carrier oils before using them on the skin. 


Do you at times miss getting that afternoon nap at home, just to catch up on those few sleeping hours you didn’t get at night? Well, we all do, don’t we? However, when less sleep at night becomes a regular thing, you need to do something about it. After all, lack of sleep could affect your health, productivity, and even emotional well-being as an individual. 

However, just because you can’t get good sleep does not mean you keep using those over-the-counter prescriptions. Rather, you can naturally promote better sleep by using the Best Essential Oils for Relaxation and Sleep.  

While these oils do not necessarily replace medical treatments, they are a much better alternative. So if you wish to say goodbye to those midday yawns and sleepless nights, it is high time you started using essential oils!