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March 06, 2023
The month of March is an exciting time of the year if you live in a place that observes Daylight Savings Time. This month we move our clocks ahead to “spring forward”. I’m looking forward to an extra hour of daylight in the evening. Where I live, sunset jumps from 6pm to 7pm overnight! Magical.
There is a downside to having the clocks change, however. Some people find the loss of one hour of sleep, and the time change in general, takes a toll on their circadian rhythm, causing disruption in their sleep pattern.
When we have difficulty sleeping we have an increased risk of hypertension, weight gain, and depression. Our cognition and memory can be affected. Our resiliency decreases and our level of stress increases. We put ourselves at a higher risk for heart attack and stroke. [i]
When we sleep the recommended 7-8 hours we are more able to regulate our hormones, which affect pretty much everything. Our mood is better, we handle stress better and with a higher level of resiliency. Our blood sugar level is more stable and our immune system works better for us. We more easily maintain a healthy weight which can lead to a healthier life overall. [ii]
If you are a person who has trouble falling asleep during the time change, I have suggestions for you!
In a study conducted in 2015 at National Yang-Ming University in Taiwan, it was shown that slow breathing exercises for 20 minutes before bed improved sleep significantly. Participants who described themselves as insomniacs were able to fall asleep faster, and woke up less frequently during the night. [iii]
Aromatherapy is particularly suited to help people relax and get some sleep. Many chemical components in essential oils are known to create calming effects, provide a sense of relaxation, and calm our minds from some of the days’ racing thoughts. When you find a relaxing scent that you love, the action of breathing in deeply to appreciate that scent calms the parasympathetic nervous system. When paired with an intentional clearing of the mind and visualization, deep breathing exercises divert our attention away from negative thinking.
How can we use aromatherapy to help us out? Here are my top 5 essential oil picks to help you fall asleep during the days surrounding the time change.
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia): Lavender has many qualities but is probably most famous for it’s relaxation properties. Lavender can help lessen stress and anxiety. Two of the chemical components in lavender that are helpful in relaxing us are linalool and linalyl acetate. Lavender pairs well with almost any other essential oil, however, a satchel of lavender flowers is always nice as well. Place a satchel of lavender in your linen closet to lightly scent your pillowcase.
Cedarwood (Juniperus virginiana): Cedarwood is a grounding oil that inspires calm. Cedarwood is high in the chemical component cedrol, which has a sedative effect. I find Cedarwood to be a light woodsy scent, that is unassuming and easy to blend with. If you are a fan of spending time outdoors, you need to have Cedarwood in your essential oil toolkit.
Roman Chamomile (chamaemelum nobile): Roman Chamomile is high in esters, which provide a soothing and calming effect. The scent of Roman Chamomile reminds us of the soothing tea that can be made from its dried flowers. It brings us thoughts of soft music, warm blankets and a good book. It’s becoming more well known that our digestive system is our second brain. While Roman Chamomile can ease digestive issues, it can also ease the mind.
Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata): Ylang Ylang is a very powerful oil, which helps us when we use it in small doses. Overuse of Ylang Ylang can cause headaches and nausea. Ylang Ylang is a strongly scented essential oil that will overpower the scent of a blend if not used sparingly, but when used correctly can be a beautiful oil that is uplifting and can calm the stress around situations that we feel we cannot change.
Neroli (Citrus arantium var amara): Neroli, one of the more expensive essential oils, is especially suited to help with anxiety and stress. Neroli can relax the nerves and calm the heart. It can be a beneficial oil for people going through very hard times. Neroli is often an adulterated oil. Know your source! When buying Neroli (and any essential oil, to be honest), only buy from companies that can provide you with batch specific chemical reports.
You’ll find these essential oils in my Get Me To Sleep bar. This solid lotion bar is packed with moisture. The essential oils help to produce a feeling of relaxation as they encourage a deeper breath and signal to your body that it’s time to wind down for the night. This bar is most effective if you rub the bar on your feet about 20 minutes before bed. Give yourself a foot massage to encourage the oils to soak in. The butters in this bar may make your feet slippery, so be sure to wear socks after you apply the bar to your feet if you know that you need to get up and walk a bit before staying in bed for the night. You can also use the bar as a solid hand lotion. After applying the lotion, cup your hands close to your face and inhale the scent of the oils.
If you are having trouble falling asleep at bed time during the time change, try to not nap during the day or take a short one. Signal to your body at night that it is approaching bedtime by creating a night ritual to get you ready to fall asleep. If you continue to have trouble sleeping talk to your doctor about options.
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