Getting your beauty sleep is no joke. Sleep is one of the most powerful tools in your beauty box, and luckily, aromatherapy can aid us in our quest to get to sleep. How does it work? By using one of the oldest evolutionary sensory systems we humans have: the olfactory system. When we inhale through the nose, some of the airborne molecules are absorbed by specialized cells in the nose called mitral cells, stimulating the olfactory receptors and setting of a chain of neurological communication that ultimately allows us to recognize a given scent.
According to a recent sleep study, sleep-deprived people appear less healthy, less attractive and more tired compared with when they are well rested: “As illustrated by the common expression “beauty sleep,” an individual’s sleep history may play an integral part in the perception and judgments of his or her attractiveness and health.”
While there is no solid scientific proof that aromas have a measurable, physiological impact on health, several studies have shown the ability of scents to improve mood. Interestingly, mitral cells in the nose not only lead to the olfactory cortex, they also carry signals from the inhaled scent to the brain’s limbic system, which controls emotion and mood. It also sends signals to the amygdala, which controls emotional learning and memory. This connection may explain why some scents can evoke strong memories, and also why certain scents may lead to improved mood, thus facilitating relaxation and sleep.
Essence of Vali makes a lovely, concentrated aromatherapy product called Sleep, A Bedtime Ritual. Made from a proprietary blend of lavender, marjoram, cedarwood and ylang ylang, each essential oil is known for their de-stressing, relaxing, or anti-anxiety qualities. It’s a floral, herbal, woody concentrate that faithful users say relaxes them and eases them into sleep with just a drop placed on a pillowcase.
Is it a placebo effect? Maybe. But if believing a scent that you find pleasant has relaxing, sleep inducing benefits and helps you drift off without the use of potentially dangerous or habit forming sleep aids, then go with your nose.
Images: Allisa L. Milller (top), Essence of Vali