Imagine a bucolic field of lavender swaying in a summer breeze… it’s nearly as somnolent as the plant’s intoxicating scent itself. The word alone is almost onomatopoeic. It rolls off the tongue with a poetic, soporific loll, and the flowers themselves are dreamy little lilac buds of pure ruffled perfume. Lavender has proven sleep-inducing qualities, some of which are scientifically correlated, and others attributed more aromatherapeutic to the relaxing, soothing scent of this esteemed blossom.
According to studies published on the National Center for Biotechnology Information, Lavandula angustifolio, officinais, and vera (the three most common varieties) have been suggested as effective natural remedies to treat insomnia and improve sleep quality. Single-blind, randomized studies investigated the effectiveness of the scent of lavender on sleep quality. They showed that it improved the slumber in all 123 subjects suffering from sleep problems of various natures.
Could some of this be a placebo effect? Sure… but then again, whatever works. That said, the greatest efficacy has been found using lavender essential oils and the dried herb itself, not synthetic lavender-scented imposters. The most common usage is olfactory; however, it is gaining popularity as a flavor component in food and beverages. Be sure, though, never to ingest lavender oil as it can be toxic in large quantities. Aromatherapy oils are intended to be sniffed, not sipped. You can use the essential oil by dabbing it onto your wrists or temples or in a fragrance infuser to disperse the wonderful aroma throughout your sleeping quarters.
If you are up for an easy DIY project, make a lavender sachet. Buy a fresh bouquet of the plant, tie together with twine, and then hang upside-down to dry for seven to ten days. Once completely dried, you can then rub the desiccated buds from the stems. The neatest way is to do this is directly onto a sheet of newspaper. Then furl the paper into a cone and pour directly into a cotton or mesh sachet. Tie with a pretty ribbon, and you’re ready to tuck it under your pillow.
If you’re not the DIY type, there are lavender-infused pillows that work just as good as having a bouquet by your bedside. One of our favorites is Malouf’s Zoned ActiveDough™ Lavender Pillow. It’s a luxurious blend of memory foam and latex infused with real lavender oil. We love it so much that we sell it in our stores! It even includes a lavender spritzer to refresh the fragrance if it ebbs, and the temperature-regulating pillow itself is a beautiful shade of purple.
Lavender is especially useful to bring along in your travels. Foreign hotel rooms with their weird bump-in-the-night noises and unfamiliar surroundings can make sleeping for some problematic. Toting a little lavender sachet or vial of essential oils is a perfect olfactory reminder of your comfortable bedtime routine at home, along with its other sleep-inducing qualities.
Another great remedy is to use lavender soaps or bath bombs right before bed if you bathe at night. Look for brands that use real lavender, and treat yourself to a bubbly scented bath that will almost guarantee to have you counting sheep in no time.
Creating an atmosphere conducive to sleep is one of the greatest tactics to lull you into dreamland. Lavender can be a great addition to your nighttime regimen, and it’s also a pleasant and pretty addition to your home during waking hours.