The best essential oils to get you sleeping soundly

Sick of counting sheep? Sleep struggles can be frustrating and exhausting, but adding an essential oil into the mix may help.

Many of us struggle with sleep – almost 60 per cent of Australians, according to a Sleep Foundation report.

Increasingly, essential oils are being touted as an effective remedy for insomnia.

But if you’re new to the essential oil game, which ones are worth trying for better sleep, and what’s the best way to use them?


There’s nothing particularly new-agey about lavender, which has long been said to promote relaxation.

Aromatherapist Catherine Cervasio, who works with mothers and babies, says the popular essential oil is still her go-to when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep.

Sleep expert Olivia Arezzolo points to a 2010 study that showed lavender reduced anxiety by 45 per cent in participants.

Olivia says lavender heightens the activity of GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter that helps you feel calm.

Rose oil 

Catherine says she’s also a big fan of rose essential oils, particularly rosa damascena (Damask rose).

She says this oil can help calm anxiety and induce a more restful state when applied to a particular area and in turn, help improve sleep quality.

“For example, if you were to put three to four drops of rose oil in some base oil and massage the back of your neck for several minutes before bed, this would help support a deeper, more peaceful night’s sleep,” Catherine says.

“Personally, I find this method a really, really good remedy for insomnia and sleeplessness in general.”

Sweet orange oil 

Olivia says research has shown that the inhalation of sweet orange essential oil for just 90 seconds decreases arousal in the brain’s pre-frontal cortex.

This means the brain will likely slow down and become more relaxed, making it easier to drift off to sleep.

How to use essential oils to induce sleep

A diffuser will help you inhale the scent of the oil through your nose (olfactory system), with molecules travelling to both the limbic area of your brain and also into your lungs, says Catherine.

But aromatherapy can also work as a topical application, where oils (mixed with a carrier oil) also enter quickly into the bloodstream, in the same way that hormone patches work to enter your body,” she says.

While a neck massage is great, Catherine says applying it to the soles of the feet, which contain many nerve endings, also hits the spot.

A spritz to your pillowslip may also work wonders.

Make aromatherapy part of your sleep routine

Catherine says ideally essential oils would be part of a wider bedtime routine, which would include deep breathing and quiet, screen-free time.

“Really breathe – and keep breathing until your head’s got no more thoughts in it,” she says.

Olivia agrees, saying essential oils are a healthy lifestyle habit – the more healthy habits you have, the better you’ll feel.

“Just like as if you were going for a walk and unwinding at the end of the day on a daily basis, essential oils can help you stay balanced,” she says.

More tips for a better night’s sleep:

Written by Larissa Ham.