6 Aromatherapy Essential Oils for Stress Relief and Sleep

Scents are powerful — a simple smell can immediately trigger a powerful memory, place, or person. Scents have power to evoke emotions and memories instantly and can directly impact our bodies through our nervous system.

The olfactory nerve gives us our sense of smell and starts from our nose and enters the skull through tiny holes to connect directly to the brain. This nerve rapidly sends signals to many different parts of the brain, including the limbic system and amygdala, which are in charge of emotions, mood, and memory. These systems are also in charge of regulating our autonomic nervous system, which can either trigger a fight-or-flight response, quickening our breath, heart rate and raising our blood pressure, or can soothe us through turning on the parasympathetic nervous system, which relaxing our bodies. This theory helps explain why scents can so quickly trigger physical reactions in our bodies and have lasting effects after the scent is gone. Essential oils like lavender have even been shown to react the same way biochemically that anti-anxiety medications do with certain neuroreceptors.

Aromatherapy is a complementary and alternative medicine practice that taps into the healing power of scents from essential oils extracted from plants in order to balance your mind, body, and spirit. Essential oils can be diluted by water and diffused into the air or a few drops can be gently rubbed into acupressure points on the body. Studies have shown that specific essential oils used in aromatherapy can help relieve stress, relax the body, and promote better sleep.

Here are six essential oils that can help relieve stress and promote sleep [...]

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