Best Essential Oils for Sleep Apnea & Deep Sleep Promotion – Top 4 of 32 Tested – 2018 update
Over the last 10 months we’ve been working on what we think is the most comprehensive guide on essential oils for sleep out there.
The first thing we did is put together an expert panel of 15 aromatherapy experts. They helped us make the initial list of 32 products for further testing.
We then proceeded to purchase 5 packs of each product and test – we used the oils ourselves, but more importantly, we sent the products out to our featured testers. This is a group of people with problems like sleep apnea, insomnia, anxiety or some other sleep disorder.
It took this long to come up with the results because the sample for the statistical analysis had to be substantial enough to produce relevant data. The reviews and ratings you’re about to see a result of that lengthy process.
Best essential oils for sleep – Top 4
Last updated – January 2018
Best essential oil for sleep overall
With 94% of users reporting substantially relief with their sleep problems, doTerra Serenity is the top rated oil overall.
About a third of our testers had a problem with sleep apnea, combined with issues like anxiety and restlessness.
With that “chunk” of people, the doTERRA Serenity restful blend had the highest satisfaction rate of 91%.
- Sleep improvement – overall 94%
- Sleep apnea relief 91%
- Anxiety relief 91%
- Stress relief 88%
- Overall wellness improvement 90%
The blend includes Roman Chamomile, sweet Marjoram, Lavender , Ylang Ylang and Hawaiian sandalwood.
The doTerra blend does cost more than your run-of-the-mill oil but, based on what we’ve seen, it’s worth every cent.
You can read the user experiences at the links below.
Eden Gardens German chamomile
100% therapeutic grade
It was a surprise that one of the two the top-rated oil is not a blend of some kind, but Chamomile in its purest form and of highest-quality.
The German Chamomile has a different aroma compared to any other Chamomile oil we look at – it has a certain sweetness to it.
This one is scarce and won’t find it in wholesale. The explanation we got is that the company doesn’t want to risk the potency being compromised by temperature changes or improper storage.
- Sleep improvement – overall 93%
- Sleep apnea relief 90%
- Anxiety relief 91%
- Stress relief 90%
- Overall wellness improvement 86%
In these 10 months, one of the quality aspects that influenced our ratings is the user satisfaction, not just with a specific product but with the brand itself.
What we’ve seen with Eden Gardens is a consistent 100% positive customer feedback.
We’ve been testing and reviewing sleep-related products for almost a decade now and we have NEVER seen that.
Healing solutions blends
This set of oils tested best with people whose issues go beyond sleep and anxiety.
The doesn’t come as a surprise because the set includes a proprietary blend for a range of problems – from the brand that addresses sleep, stress and immunity blends (Health Shield) and Deep Muscle Relief.
In terms of overall well-being, it’s the most complete set.
We’re not fans of using colloquial terms, but these smell amazing.
The blend includes a range of oils…too many to list here. Some of them are: Bergamot, Peppermint, Lavender, Patchouli, Ylang Ylang and Tea Tree.
- Sleep improvement – overall 90%
- Sleep apnea relief 88%
- Anxiety relief 91%
- Stress relief 87%
- Overall wellness improvement 85%
Asutra Premium Mist 6 blend set
When we set out to complete this guide, we were determined to only focus on oils closely related to sleep, because we had no doubts about how helpful they can be.
We didn’t want to compromise the list by including sets that stray from the purpose into a wider range.
Three months into the testing process, we found ourselves rethinking that because of some fascinating experiences we’ve seen people reporting about this Asutra set.
Apart from the two blends aimed at promoting healthy rest and deep sleep (Pure Soothing Comfort & Instant Stress Relief), the set also includes 4 blends aimed at increasing energy, focus and confidence.
- Sleep improvement – overall 85%
- Sleep apnea relief 86%
- Anxiety relief 88%
- Stress relief 90%
- Overall wellness improvement 92%
The last blend we mentioned above (Confidence Elixir) was especially surprising because, to be honest, claims like these are too vague for our taste because they’re not measurable.
However, too many people reported a dramatic change in this area for us to ignore it – one of the 6 blends included is “Confidence Elixir” and it does seem to justify its name.
As you can see (if you are our regular reader) not much has changed in this months ratings and the Doterra Serentity still “reigns” the category rated at 92/100 Overall with an impressiv rating of 94 in the sleep improvement overall.
In the ret of this guide, we’ll look at some refererence info on the topic.
Reference info about essential oils for sleep apnea, deep sleep and anxiety
This guide is not just about reporting on the results of our research about to the best essential oils for sleep, we also want to offer some reference information on why the specific plants work the way they do. The following section is all about that – exploring the plants, their origins, historical and modern use.
The first thing we’ll do is go over the oils most commonly used in sleep promoting blends; we’ll recommend a few ways to use them.
Being the natural beauty that it is,Chamomile flowers are often used for decorative purposes, but that’s not what it’s known for.
Since the ancient times, Chamomile has been used to promote healthy sleep. It’s native to Western Europe and North Africa and has been integrated into the Western pharmacopeia for as far back as it goes.
Species of Chamomile used in aromatherapy are Roman, German and feverfew.
The range of benefits goes from inflammation to the more important ones (at least for us) like anxiety, tension, insomnia and even some attention disorders.
The Chamomile essential oil is typically mixed with almond oil because the two create a soothing smell that works wonders for promoting sleep.
For insomnia, Roman Chamomile will typically be the most effective one, that’s why we mentioned that the results of our research (that puts the German Chamomile by Eden Gardens at the very top) were a bit surprising.
In blends, it’s typically mixed with Lavender because the combo of the two plants provides the most powerful synergy.
Another plant with soothing properties, but also one more herb that requires a bit of knowledge if you want to choose the right kind. Many oil types go under the name of Marjoram these days.
The one that’s recommended for insomnia carries the original name of Origanum marjorana but it’s widely known as Sweet Marjoram.
Apart from being a sedative, Marjoram also helps with high blood pressure and hyperactive nervous system, especially one exuberated but the feelings of anxiety and grief.
Similar to Chamomile, Marjoram is at its most potent when it works in synergy with other oils. Most commonly, you’ll see it mixed with Lavender and Chamomile.
Some plants do a good job at helping you fall asleep, while other essential oils are best for promoting deep sleep and a healthy balance between sleep phases.
Lavender is one of the few oils that balances the two (it’s as effective in battling insomnia as it is in promoting deep sleep).
The esters and alcohols in the Lavender oil have other therapeutic uses, but none of them is as well known as relief from relaxation and anxiety.
Species of Lavender used in essential oils
The most commonly used species of Lavender is Lavandula angustifolia also known as True Lavender because it has the most potent sedating properties.
Species like Spike Lavender or Hybrid Lavandine are also used in some blends but they’re not as potent.
How to use essential oils for sleep
Proper use of the oils is just as important as choosing the best ones. Below, we’ll make a couple of suggestions.
A warm bath
Including essential oils in your warm bath can be a very effective way to soothe your racing nervous system after a busy day.
The two most common mistakes people make here are using too much oil or making the bath too hot.
The water should be warm and we would recommend no more than 7-8 drops of oil. The setting can be further complemented with a bubble bath, just make sure that the scents complement each other.
Use them with a diffuser
Just before bedtime, you can use the essential oils with a diffuser. Diffusers are especially popular for helping a child fall asleep, simply because they are practical.
You have the option of choosing an electric or a candle diffuser. For an adult, a candle aromatherapy diffuser might offer a more complete experience, but for kids, electrical diffusers are the more practical option.
If you have a kid battling insomnia, the use of essential oils for sleep can go beyond the direct benefits – it can become a part of a familiar pre-sleep ritual. If you can achieve that, essential oils can go a long way in insomnia relief.
Essential oil massage
You might be noticing a pattern by now, essential oils for sleep work best when coupled with another relaxing routine, like a massage.
Note that essential oils are not intended to be used for massage on their own and you would need to dilute them into a massage blend.
Let’s take a moment here and recommend a “recipe” for a massage blend.
The rule of thumb can be to stick with 2 to 3% off essential oils diluted into a carrier oil, like jojoba wax. Here’s an example of that.
2% massage oil will look something like this:
- 1 oz (30 ml) of jojoba wax
- 3 drops of Lavender oil
- 1 drop of Yilang Yilang oil
- 5 drops of Cedarwood oil
- 1 drop of Vetiver oil
Darken the bedroom, put on some relaxing ambient tunes or white noise (like rain of waves crashing) and have your partner gently massage your neck and shoulder area.
Apply some oil to your linen & pillow
Using a water spritzer, dilute a small amount of an essential oil and spray some of the solution around your sleeping area.
To avoid stains, try not to spray directly into the linen or the pillow but over them, allowing the mist to gently fall onto your bed. If your bed frame is polished, do your best to avoid sprinkling the solution onto polished surfaces.
Other oils commonly included in sleep-promoting-blends
Apart from the ones listed above, blends of the best essential oils for sleep might include some of the following plants: Rose, Sage, Ylang Ylang, Neroli, Sandalwood, Valerian, Bergamot, sweet orange and others.
Other plants used in essential oils for sleep
As we outlined at the beginning of this chapter, we’ll now dig a bit deeper and explore some of the lesser-known plants with sedating and soothing properties. The “story” doesn’t end there. To answer the question “What essential oils are good for sleep?”, we have to dig deeper and explore some other plants commonly included in sleep aid blends.
Valerian – commonly used in essential oils for sleep apnea
Although Valerian is known for its sleep promoting action, it’s mainly used in the form of Valerian root – you can see our guide on the best Valerian root supplements here.
The knowledge about what Valerian can do for sleep dates back to ancient Greece. Some of the great physicians of the time (like Hippocrates) have used and recommended it for insomnia.
The Romans resumed the knowledge from the Greeks and explored Valerian into more depth. They used it not only for sleep related issues but physical manifestations, like heart palpitation.
Its wide use lasted all the way through the Middle-ages, when it was even used as a pill.
Following the Renaissance, it was discovered that Valerian was helpful in treating epilepsy.
During the Great War, physicians provided large quantities of Valerian to soldiers who needed help with anxiety caused by bombing and all the traumas that follow a war.
The debate about the mechanisms through which Valerian does its “magic” is ongoing and there are very few double-blind studies about it. That comes as a surprise, because Valerian is the most widely used herb for two battling insomnia.
You can see a summation of the most well-known studies here.
Some of the newer reports show that 1 in 3 people with sleep problems have tried to address them by using Valerian.
It’s fair to say that the effects of the herb still remain a mystery, but only in terms the mechanisms at work…its effectiveness is beyond doubt. There are some scientists who still claim that the results are based on placebo. To be honest, we’re not too interested in the mechanisms and the nitty-gritty and neither are the people who got relief.
The important part is that the herb is safe and is even prescribed to children with insomnia.
Effects of Valerian on restless legs syndrome
In 2009, a comprehensive study has been conducted to explore the effects of Valerian on Restless Leg Syndrome. The study reported that the consumption of 800 mg of Valerian daily for 8 weeks offered significant relief to the people suffering from the syndrome.
Apart from helping with the restless legs, it also reduced daytime sleepiness.
You can see the full results and conclusions here.
The herb is most potent when combined with hops and lemon balm (we’ll look into the two plants in a minute).
Advantages of using Valerian essential oil for sleep
As we mentioned, the main form used is dried root, both raw or in the form of a pill.
For many people, the smell and taste will be too much to handle. That’s where essential oils come in. When combined into soothing blends, the issue of taste and smell becomes a moot point.
Lemon balm origins are scattered around Europe (mostly around the Mediterranean area), Asia and North Africa.
First notes of its use date back to the beginning of our era. In France, the Emperor Charlemagne recommended lemon balm to his subjects as a remedy for nervousness and insomnia.
It’s also been reported to help with digestive problems and heart palpitations.
To date, no significant side effects of lemon balm have been reported. However, this doesn’t mean that you should consume too much of it, primarily because the body tends to get used to it, which mitigates the effects in the long run.
That’s why lemon balm is typically used on intermittent basis, like a cycle of 2 to 3 weeks followed by one week off.
Lemon balm is often mixed with Lavender , Passionflower and Valerian. In this combo, it’s reported to have positive effects that go beyond sleep, like circulation issues or digestive problems.
Lemon tree – used in essential oils for deep sleep
Lemon tree is appreciated by sculptors and furniture makers just as much as aroma therapists…for different reasons, of course. In the Roman era, the bark of lemon tree was used to make mats and ropes.
The sedative effects of its flowers are even described as hypnotic.
Apart from the sleep-related issues, lemon balm has been proven to be a mild diuretic and help with the common cold, especially in children.
All of the above has been extensively explored in a famous book “Flore laurentienne” by Marie-Victorin published in 1953.
With the discovery of the New World, the use of lemon tree flourished, because the settlers learned about it from the native Indians, who used the herb extensively.
Also known as Vineyard of the North, Hops originates from Europe, Asia and North America.
In nature, it’s a perennial climber, but today it’s grown in all climates and altitudes.
The parts used in aromatherapy are the female flowers, known for their distinctive aroma and bitter taste.
In history, the reports of its use date back to the Romans and Greeks, who primarily used it for digestive problems. The Cherokee Indians used hops to treat arthritis and kidney disease.
The first traces of hops used for certain sleep-related problems insomnia trace back to traditional Chinese medicine.
There are no studies to report here and the evidence is mostly anecdotal. The anecdote that stands is that “hop-pickers” tend to fall asleep on the job after a few hours of picking the plant.
The name of this plant is commonly misunderstood and people tend to mistake it for an aphrodisiac.
It has nothing to do with that.
The word “passion” refers to the shape of the central filaments and is given to the plant in reference to the passion of Christ, because it resembles the torns of the crown.
It was introduced to Europe in the 17th century and its popularity has been growing ever since, mainly because of the spectacular appearance of the multiple subspecies.
It originates from the humid forests of South America, where the original strains are currently threatened to be extinct because of the massive deforestation.
The humankind has been fascinated by the flower for so long and, today, we even have an international organization dedicated to the plant – you can see their website at Passiflorasociety.org.
The organization is dedicated to pinpointing every subspecies of the plant and it’s partly because of their work that, today, we know off over 400 Passionflower sub-species.
Used in aromatherapy in medicine
Passionflower has mainly been admired for its appearance and the anxiolytic benefits and has been vastly ignored by the Western medicine until the beginning of the 20th century.
It’s sometimes added to the best blends of essential oils for sleep as an anti-anxiolytic.
Neroli – essential oils for deep sleep & mood improvement
The essence of Neroli has both sedative and antidepressant qualities.
It’s universally recognized and used to calm digestive problems in babies. When it comes to essential oil blends, Neroli is added because of the calming smell (that can even help with sleep on its own).
The pleasant smell is so strong that Neroli is widely used in the perfume industry.
From the angle aromatherapy, the best part is the potency to overcome other smells, like the unpleasant smell of Valerian root.
You might know Vervein by one of its many names: sacred grass, blood grass, grass of the sorcerers and even “grass of all evils.”
Its Latin name is Verbena Officinalis and it’s not as widely known as some of the plants we talked about thus far.
Most of the former infamy can be attributed to Paul-Victor Fournier, a famous 19th century botanist calling it an “iron wire” and shrugging off any of its potential benefits.
Today, we know better because the medicinal properties of Vervein are exceptional – ranging from anxiety to intestinal disorders related to stress.
It’s usually consumed as tea and it’s fair to say that the Vervein essential oil is a “youngster” in the aromatherapy arena.
Those who are privy to it know that it is one of the 14 plans used to make the famous balm of Saint Antoine used to treat gangrene and less serious external injuries like cuts and bruises.
Ylang-ylang is one of the most versatile essential oils. Besides being a sedative, it’s also known as an antiseptic, hypotensive (helps lower blood pressure) and antiseborrheic (helps with dermatitis).
But let’s stick to our topic…ylang-ylang is not only a sedative but it’s used to prevent and repair minor damages to the nervous system.
With all that in mind, it comes as no surprise that the herb is extensively included in some of the best essential oils for sleep apnea and deep sleep.
Most women familiar with the world of aromatherapy will know Clary Sage. It offers relief from menstrual pain and support hormonal balance.
It’s included in sleep promoting essential oils as a nerve tonic with warming properties.
Summary, final thoughts and future updates
At the beginning, we made a bold promise, to put together the most comprehensive guide possible on using essential oils to deal with issues like sleep apnea, imbalance of sleep phases (lack of deep sleep) and anxiety.
To summarize, we reported on the top five best essential oils for sleep-related issues and we did our best to explain how the plants in the oils work their “magic.”
The first section of this guide (the ratings of the oils) is updated every 6 months to ensure that the info presented is fresh and relevant. The 6-month updates include the user satisfaction category that’s partly based on the data we’ve gathered from all around the web.
We’re also setting a goal to re-test the oils (including any new arrivals to the market) once every 18 months.
If you have any specific questions, feel free to reach out in the comment section or by emailing us. If we don’t have the expertise to answer, we’ll seek help from our expert panel and get back to you as soon as possible.
Stay calm and sleep well,
The Sleep Studies Team