Essential oils for sleep may offer a natural, non-toxic solution to one of contemporary society’s biggest health problems: insomnia.

Health experts find that 1 in 3 Americans experiences some degree of sleeplessness. Occasionally missed sleep often corresponds to stress, which is in theory temporary. A more persistent cause may be depression, where brain-chemistry both creates and reinforces dark moods. Lack of sleep almost always makes depression worse, creating a cycle of sleep-deprivation and depression symptoms.

Hormones also play a key role in sleep. For the majority of women, peri-menopause and menopause mean lost sleep, sometimes including night sweats, as estrogen, testosterone and progestin levels drop over the course of a decade or more.

Essential oils for sleep may offer comfort in all of these situations, especially when experienced as part of a soothing, warm shower. The precise mechanism of how the particulates contained in aromatherapy actives interact with the central nervous system and brain are imperfectly understood at this time. But without question, essential oils for sleep such as Lavender, Bergamot, Petitgrain, Sage, Basil and Ylang Ylang have been blended and used for centuries to ease the transition into rest and deep sleep.

Many people underestimate the importance of sleep. But emerging research may change this thinking. New studies demonstrate that chronic, long-term¬†loss of sleep creates plaques, or clusters of protein molecules in the brain. These formations resemble those ¬†found in the brains of individuals with Alzheimer’s and dementia, and the effects of sleep-loss bear some resemblance to these conditions, notably disorientation and memory-loss.

Inhaling essential oils for sleep as part of a bedtime ritual can be a gentle and pleasurable method of allowing brain and body to welcome much-needed snooze-time.

Were our ancestors sleep-deprived? Sleeplessness–occasionally howling at the moon– is not new to the human experience. But cultural anthropologists agree that the epidemic of daily sleeplessness (and this is how insomnia is defined, versus an occasional wakeful night) is comparatively new in human history, corresponding with the age Industrial Revolution.

Chronic stress related to urban living is identified as one factor. But perhaps the most significant issue related to losing sleep is artificial lighting. While our great-grandparents may have sat around the campfire or read by candlelight, they did not confront brilliant indoor lighting after the sun went down; this is an entirely modern phenomenon. Many scientists believe that daily exposure to artificial lighting, including checking your email at midnight and watching the late news, disrupts the natural production of melatonin. This disruption, in turn, prevents us from falling asleep, or from staying asleep if we do drift off.

Essential oils for sleep, inhaled as part of a shower using Essio NIGHT blend, can ease the way without the potential side-effects or hangover of both OTC and prescription sleep aids. If you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, here’s a checklist for tips which may help:

ALLOW DARKNESS TO COME. Turn the lights off, or lower their intensity, at dusk.

WORK OUT AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE. The elevation of metabolism which follows exercise will keep you awake.

EAT DINNER AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE. Try to consume heavy foods, including animal proteins, as early in the day as possible. Rich foods take time and energy to process, and this process may disturb your sleep.

AVOID SUGARS, INCLUDING ALCOHOL, in the evening if you have trouble sleeping. Sugar-spikes will pop your eyes open.

MOVE THE TV OUT OF THE BEDROOM. Keep this space exclusively for pleasures of the bed.

ENJOY ESSENTIAL OILS FOR SLEEP as part of your nightly shower before hitting the sheets.