Essential oils are extremely popular right now. They are said to be a natural cure for many health conditions, including treating anxiety, curing infections, and improving sleep. But do essential oils really work?
Lavender – one of the most popular essential oils – has been linked to improved sleep quality and duration in multiple studies. However, it’s important to remember that essential oils can carry side effects. For example, one study showed that lavender can mimic the actions of estrogens, potentially causing prepubertal gynecomastia (breast growth) in young boys. For this reason, lavender essential oils should not be used by boys under the age of 12.
Is There a Better Way to Improve Your Sleep?
If you’re having trouble sleeping, the best first step to take is to work on what’s called your ‘sleep hygiene.’
Darek Eggleston, Primary Care Physician at Ogden Clinic, offers the following tips:
- Establish a bedtime routine
- Go to bed early enough to get seven hours of sleep, if possible
- Don’t drink caffeine after 4pm
- Try to wake up at the same time every day, even on vacation and/or during weekends
- Don’t use electronics within 30 minutes of bedtime
- Exercise regularly (preferably not right before bed)
- Eat a healthy, well-rounded diet
Dr. Eggleston cautions that essential oils should be used with discretion.
“If you’re using essential oils, and you believe they’re helping, that’s great,” said Eggleston. “If you have reactions to the oils, stop using them. Above all, please do not use essential oils in replacement of proven medicine.”