In the next few months, I will discuss a variety of factors in healthy sleep. Today’s post from Jodi Cohen, founder of Vibrant Blue Oils, discusses some of the reasons why truly restful sleep escapes you and how to use natural solutions like essential oils to address the root problems. Vibrant Blue Oils are proprietary blends of therapeutic-grade essential oils developed in a clinical setting, and you can learn more about Vibrant Blue Oils in my review here. I’ve seen remarkable changes in my heath due to VBO and I can’t recommend them highly enough.
Natural Sleep Remedies with Essential Oils
Restful sleep, defined as the ability to both fall asleep and stay asleep, is critical for vibrant health. It allows time for the body to rest and repair, detoxify, balance blood sugar levels and reset our energy reserves. Without restful sleep, we feel fatigued and our body compensates with cortisol spikes, sugar cravings and other tricks to keep us awake and functioning.
The most common sleep remedy is to tranquilize the body with everything from over the counter drugs like cough syrup and pain medication to intensive prescription drugs. While tranquilizing the body can help in the short term, in order to really solve sleep challenges, you need to look at the underlying issues, which can range from low levels of melatonin in the system which can make it challenging to fall asleep to blood sugar and hormonal challenges or an overload of the detoxification organs, such as the liver and gall bladder, which can contribute to night-time waking.
Fortunately, sleep issues lend themselves especially well to essential oil support. I have attempted to help you isolate your individual sleep issue below. If you want to learn more about your specific sleep issues and what oils might be the best for you, you can take our personalized online sleep assessment here.
Why You Can’t Fall Asleep
If you struggle to fall asleep or experience racing thoughts or worries while lying in bed, your body’s natural sleep and wake cycles, known as the circadian rhythms, might be a little out of balance.
As you may know, the stress hormone, cortisol, is released by the adrenal glands. The sleep hormone, melatonin, is released by the pineal gland, a small pine cone shaped endocrine gland located near the center of the brain.
Our cortisol rhythms are supposed to be highest in the morning and then wane as the day wears on. When people are active at night and slow in the morning, the cortisol patterns are reversed. This throws off the circadian rhythm because cortisol and melatonin have an antagonistic relationship. Elevated cortisol levels at night actually turn off melatonin production. Similarly, if melatonin is elevated then cortisol is depressed.
It might help to think of a teeter totter. When the stress hormone (cortisol) is high, it forces the sleep hormone (melatonin) to be low. People often supplement with the melatonin hormone, which can help in the short term. The challenge here is that the body, specifically the pineal gland, is supposed to make its own melatonin and external supplementation of the hormone sends the signal to the body that it is sufficient in melatonin production and actually reduces the body’s own production of the hormone.
Another option is to balance the pineal gland return to its innate intelligence and release more melatonin naturally, which we are doing by applying Vibrant Blue Oils Pineal Rhythm blend to specific locations on the head (top of the skull and on the skull right above the ears). This method emulates the innate intelligence of the body and has been extremely effective for those suffering from sleep issues and anxiety.
If you again think of the teeter totter example, when melatonin then increases (goes up), it forces cortisol levels down, effectively serving as a back door to lowering stress, anxiety and the racing thoughts that keep many of us wide awake when our bodies are exhausted and longing for sleep.
An imbalance in the circadian rhythm can present with indicators such as:
- Inability to fall asleep
- Inability to stay asleep
- Difficulty waking up in the morning
- Not feeling well after sleep
- Not recovering from physical activity
- Drop of energy between 4 and 7
- Headache only during the day
Natural Sleep Remedies to Fall Asleep
- Avoid artificial light and electronics such as television, computers and phones before bed
- Try taking a warm shower or a hot bath with 2 cups Epsom salt, 1 cup baking soda and a few drops of lavender oil. The magnesium in the epsom salt is absorbed through the skin and has a relaxing effect on the nervous system.
- Try a relaxing yoga pose, like putting your legs up the wall while practicing deep breathing. This can help the body shift into the parasympathetic mode, the “rest and digest” mode of the nervous system.
- Vibrant Blue Oils Pineal Rhythms blend works well for people who struggle to fall asleep at night due to high stress or racing thoughts. Restful sleep is a critical component to healing. When the circadian rhythms flow smoothly, the body heals more easily.
- Vibrant Blue Oils Sleep blend and Calm blend work well to calm the body and the mind before bed.
Why you can’t stay asleep
Nighttime waking, awakening shortly after falling asleep or waking up throughout the night, can often be attributed to:
- Blood Sugar issues, when you wake up and feel so wide awake that you could go clean the kitchen.
- Liver and Gall Bladder overload when you wake up between 1 a.m. – 3 a.m. but are still groggy enough to fall back to sleep.
- Hormonal Issues that can lead to disrupted sleep
Natural sleep remedies to stay asleep
Blood Sugar: Sudden drops in blood sugar during the sleep cycle can cause the body to release cortisol (a stress hormone) that in turn wakes us up and makes us feel wide awake. For night-time waking due to blood sugar issues, consider:
- Include high quality fats at dinner or eat a snack high in fat like coconut butter or nut butter before bed to help manage blood sugar levels throughout the sleep cycle
- Avoid simple sugars such as desserts, alcohol, and bread before bedtime.
- Try a couple of Lauren’s blood-sugar-balancing Buttermints – recipe here – before bed
Oils that will help balance blood sugar include:
- Vibrant Blue Oils Pancreatone blend can help with night time waking, especially when you wake up and feel so wide awake that you could go clean the kitchen. Waking during the night and feeling wide awake can suggest blood sugar issues for which the pancreas is a key organ. Just smelling the pancreatone oil can help balance the pancreas enough to allow the body to naturally fall back asleep.
- Vibrant Blue Oils Pineal Rhythms blend puts the circadian rhythms in balance and as a result help to balance the adrenal glands which are a critical organ in blood sugar management.
- Vibrant Blue Oils Adrenal Balance blend helps to balance the adrenals, the organ that releases cortisol, thus reducing the intensity of cortisol spikes during both waking and night time hours. (Note from Lauren: I swear by the Adrenal Balance oil! It has been one of the most effective solutions in addressing the chronic fatigue that lingered even after my dietary changes.)
- Vibrant Blue Oils Parasympathetic blend helps to put the body in the parasympathetic rest and digest state that is helpful both for optimal digestion and relaxing for sleep.
- Vibrant Blue Oils Hypothalamus blend balances and supports the hypothalamus which is the control center in the brain for the entire endocrine system, including all your hormones and your adrenals .
Liver and Gall Bladder: According to Chinese Medicine, each organ has a time of the day/night where it does its thing, and waking between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. is “liver time”. This often reflects an overload in body’s ability to detoxify from toxins or emotions like anger, frustration or resentment. For night-time waking due to liver issues, consider:
- Increasing your consumption of healthful fats, such as coconut oil, ghee, and pastured eggs
- Castor oil packs
- Epsom salt bathes with a few drops of Parasympathetic oil. The clove oil in the parasympathetic blend helps to pull toxins out of the skin, so the liver and kidney do not need to work as hard
Oils that will help the liver and gall bladder include:
- Vibrant Blue Oils Liver Vitality might be helpful if you are considering a cleanse or are often sensitive to smells (smoke, perfume, etc) and or chemicals, easily intoxicated or hung over.
- Liver Support can support the release of emotions related to the liver, including the feelings of frequent irritation, impatience, resentment or frustration, if you’re critical of yourself or others, if you have control issues, an inability to express your feelings in a grounded/balanced way, a lack of joy, feelings of not feeling heard, not feeling loved, not being recognized or appreciated or any issues with denial such as an inability to be honest with yourself and others.
- Gall Bladder Flow. The Gall Bladder concentrates the bile to help break down fat and carry toxins out of the body. If the bile becomes too thick, it doesn’t flow as well and toxins don’t move out of the system as efficiently. Some indicators that Gall Bladder Flow might be a helpful blend for you would be motion sickness, floating stools, avoiding fatty food like meat or if you do eating fatty food, needing to use the restroom shortly after, pain between shoulder blades, subtle headache above eyes.
Hormonal Issues: Hormonal ups and downs from menstruation, pregnancy, and midlife fluctuations can impact sleep. For example, the hormone progesterone promotes restful sleep and a drop in estrogen can leave you more vulnerable to stress. Similar to blood sugar events, hot flashes are also caused by a rush of cortisol that alerts your mind and wakes you up. For night-time waking due to hormonal issues, consider:
- Using the steps discussed above to support balanced blood sugar, which goes hand-in-hand with hormone balance
- Decreasing the omega-6 fatty acids in your diet, since too much omega-6 inflames the body and disrupts hormones. Omega-6 fatty acids are highly concentrated in vegetable oils and meat/eggs from animals at factory farms.
Oils that will help the liver and gall bladder include:
- Vibrant Blue Oils Hypothalamus supports the pearl size region of the brain located just above the brainstem known as the hypothalamus to send and receive the clear messages from the body necessary to facilitate appropriate hormonal responses.
- Vibrant Blue Oils Pineal Rhythms blend works well for people who struggle to fall asleep at night due to high stress or racing thoughts. It supports a regular circadian rhythm.
- Excess estrogen can make the bile from the Gall Bladder too thick and less able to efficiently detoxify excess hormones. Gall Bladder Flow helps mobilize the toxins out of the body.
About Jodi Cohen
Jodi Cohen, founder of Vibrant Blue Oils, is a Certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, yoga enthusiast and busy mom of two children, aged 8 and 10. Her journey to understanding natural remedies for sleep was sparked by her own sleep issues and her daughter’s intense anxiety. After a year and a half of trying everything she could think of to help her anxious child, the pineal rhythm oil (described below) alleviated all symptoms within a week. She firmly believes that sleep is the cornerstone for most health issues and once sleep issues are resolved, other issues are easier to tackle.