If COVID anxiety is sabotaging your sleep schedule, sniff out a laidback solution with anatomē
New research suggests that it takes the average Briton around one hour and 45 minutes to fall asleep at night, with coronavirus concerns the main culprit. And that’s playing havoc with your health and fitness. A separate study compared the impact a restful versus a restless night can have on your mental health and the results were eye-opening. A full night’s sleep helped anxiety levels to decrease by 30% the following day (1). Researchers concluded that deep sleep is crucial for improving neuronal connections that link to your emotional health. The key is good sleep hygiene; finding a bedtime routine that works for you.
A great bedtime routine is one that allows both body and mind to relax. When you are completely relaxed, your brain produces alpha brain waves, a type of wave that is necessary to start the sleep process. If you go to bed feeling worried or anxious then those waves will be inhibited and you’ll not only struggle to fall asleep, your sleep will be less deep and less restful once you do drop off. This is due to elevated levels of cortisol (the stress hormone), that prevents relaxation.
One of the most effective ways to achieve this sleep-enhancing brain state is using aromatherapy and essential oils to aid relaxation and calm the mind.
How does scent help you to de-stress?
Scent is a powerful trigger that activates our ‘brain of emotion’ known as the limbic system – a network of connected structures towards the middle of the brain that links to the central nervous system. These structures work together to affect a wide range of subconscious behaviours including emotions, motivation, and memory.
Any time we smell something, especially in natural fragrances like essential oils, we inhale volatile particles called esters. The sense of smell, like taste, comes from specialised sensory cells found in a small patch of tissue inside the nose. The odour (esters) floats in the air reaching the nostrils and dissolving in the mucus (which is on the roof of each nostril). Underneath the mucus, in the olfactory epithelium, specialised receptor cells called olfactory receptor neurons detect the scent and then transmit messages directly to the brain, where they can influence emotions, memories and even modify conscious thoughts. This is how smell can cause behavioural changes, relaxing the mind and the body.
What scents are scientifically proven to help?
Lavender is the best researched and most effective aid in putting anxiety to bed. Lavender essential oil is rich in linalool and linalyl acetate, which were shown to lower anxiety and depression symptoms. Particularly important for sleep, linalool increases adenosine, a hormone that helps you to drift off more quickly. Additionally, Lavender essential oil is suggested to modulate GABA neurotransmission, which relaxes the body and mind (2).
At anatomē they have created a collection of essential oils to support sleep based on scientific evidence. Harnessing the power of botanicals, our Recovery + Sleep oil contains, English Lavender, Blue Chamomile, Somali Frankincense and Japanese Seaweed to help your brain achieve the desired alpha brain waves prior to sleep.
How to incorporate essential oils into your bedtime routine for better sleep?
To maximise the benefits, it’s important to start using the oils in an already relaxed state. Put your phone away and be present in yourself and space. Once you’re settled in bed, drop a few drops of sleep oil onto your fingertips, then bring them to your nose and breathe in and out slowly for the same breath counts.
Next, you can massage vigorously and slowly into your shoulders, chest, ears and the soles of your feet. Reapply the oils if you think you need more and, in the end, bring your palms to the nose again and breath in and out slowly, allowing the scent to travel into your nose, opening up your airways to help promote better relaxation of the body. Together this will all help to decrease your breathing rate, helping to lower blood pressure and as a result help to release relaxing neurotransmitters that will support you through the night and make achieving a great night’s sleep much easier.