As a child, I was plagued by terrifying nightmares that seemed so real at the time they even affected my daytime thoughts. As an adult, I now suffer from far fewer nightmares but many people continue to have bad dreams on a regular basis. While there is no out and out cure for nightmares, there are plenty of things you can try.
One of the best possible options is to calm the mind with an essential oil. This article will take a look at the best essential oils for preventing nightmares and night terrors and helping you to get a better night of sleep.
What are Nightmares?
Nightmares are dreams that occur during the REM cycle of sleep. REM means rapid eye movement. During this phase of sleep, the dreamer may sense strong fear or anxiety. Frequently awakening a sleeper, a nightmare is normally recalled in its entirety.
If you tend to suffer from nightmares, you may understandably feel nervous and anxious about going to sleep. You may also fear trying to fall back asleep once you have awakened from this type of dream. A nightmare can trigger upset in the form of anger or helplessness.
Essential oils can assist in preventing nightmares as certain oils calm the nervous system, thereby reducing feelings of anxiety. The following information can be valuable in reducing the number of bad dreams in your life.
Signs and Symptoms
People usually have nightmares during the second phase of sleeping or the REM phase. The episodes are short in duration but can awaken the sleeping, making it challenging to get back to sleep. Nightmares are represented by the following:
- The dream is both vivid and upsetting.
- The scenario of a nightmare involves a threat to the dreamer’s safety or survival.
- The dream often awakens the sleeper.
- The sleeper, in turn, may feel anxious or scared.
- Sleepers often perspire or their hearts pound during one of these episodes.
- It is difficult to think clearly upon awakening.
- It is hard to get back to sleep.
A nightmare is diagnosed as a disorder if the following takes place:
- The dreamer experiences frequent occurrences.
- The dream upsets the sleeper to the point that it is difficult to function in the daytime.
- Problems with memory or concentration result from the dreams.
- The sleeper is plagued with tiredness or fatigue during the day.
- The sleeper has problems with socialization or performing work tasks.
- Behavioral problems result that relate to fear of the dark or issues with getting to sleep.
The sleeper should see a doctor if nightmares occur persistently or his or her sleep is regularly disrupted. If the sleeper has difficulty getting to sleep, he or she should schedule a medical consultation immediately.
Causes of Nightmares
Nightmares develop because of the following:
- Stresses of Daily Life: If a problem at school, work, or home is not resolved and is ongoing, it can lead to a nightmare. A major life change such as a move can also trigger bad dreams. People who experience anxiety often have dreams more often.
- Trauma: Any change in a schedule can lead to irregular sleeping patterns and increase the risk of having a bad dream.
- Insomnia: Research shows that people who experience sleep deprivation or insomnia often experience nightmares. Irregular sleeping habits or a change in one’s schedule can also lead to nightmares.
- Medicines: Some medicines, such as blood pressure medications, antidepressants, or drugs used to help a patient stop smoking can cause the user to have bad dreams.
- Substance Abuse: People who recreationally use drugs or drink alcohol to excess may have problems with sleeping and nightmares.
- Mental Health Disturbances: Depression or similar mental health disturbances are connected with nightmares. Nightmares may also occur when a person has another medical condition such as cancer or heart disease. Sleep disorders also trigger bad dreams.
Some Facts about Nightmares
Nightmares happen more often when the sleeper has a history of nightmares in the family or other parasomnias during sleep, such as walking or talking in one’s sleep.
Suicidal thoughts or attempts at suicide can be extreme complications from recurring bad dreams.
Essential Oils for Nightmares
The idea of using essential oils for treating nightmares is to relax the mind. This can be more successfully accomplished when you use oils that are known to calm the nervous system and promote relaxation and sleep.
The following oils will aid in helping you sleep peacefully and might well also help keep nightmares and night terrors at bay.
Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender oil can be used before you go to bed. Scientists have discovered that this essential oil eases stress and anxiety and will help you sleep better. You will also wake up in the morning more energized and refreshed. Lavender has a very long history of use and has been associated with stress relief for hundreds of years. As far back as the 1600s it was noted that lavender was particularly helpful for any discomfort of the brain or head.
Many people these days use lavender oil to help calm their nerves, promote sleep and combat insomnia and there is a good chance that this soothing oil can also help prevent those nightmares and night terrors.
Simply diffuse your lavender oil near your bed through the night or add a few drops to your pillow. It should help promote a better night of sleep leaving you more refreshed in the morning.
Lavender oil is considered suitable for young children and even babies who have problems sleeping. It may even help them to overcome common childhood fears like sleeping alone or darkness.
While no studies have been done into the effects of essential oils on nightmares, studies have demonstrated that lavender essential oil can promote a better night of uninterrupted sleep. (1) (2)
Chamomile Essential Oil
Often used in the form of a tea to settle an upset stomach, chamomile provides excellent restorative properties for anyone plagued with night terrors. As well as using the herb to combat sleeping troubles, chamomile essential oil can be diffused or applied topically before bed to help relax your mind and get you in the right mood for sleep. In fact, studies have demonstrated that chamomile and its essential oil can have a very positive effect on sleep. (3)
Chamomile essential oil can help reduce stress and the feeling of anxiety that causes many people to suffer with nightmares. It can also help relieve physical exhaustion and calm the mind and body to prepare you for sleep.
Bergamot Essential Oil
Bergamot essential oil features a citrus scent that elevates the user’s feelings of happiness and well-being. By diffusing this oil at night, it can help soothe the nerves and calm down your mind. This can help you get a much better night of sleep and may even help you to have more pleasant dreams.
Mandarin Essential Oil
This essential oil possesses a mild aroma that successfully treats bad dreams. Besides using the oil in vapor form, you can add about five drops on some cotton next to your pillow before you go to sleep. When this oil is mixed with a carrier oil such as jojoba, you will find that the scent in and of itself will blissfully cause you to fall asleep.
Sandalwood Essential Oil
This oil is derived from trees that are several decades old. Trees that are around 80 years old or older are considered the best trees to use for extraction. This relaxant oil eases any nervous tension and aids the user in feeling more relaxed. According to studies, the scent of sandalwood oil has a very positive effect on the mind and can help you achieve a clear sense of peace and awareness and a greater calm.
Sandalwood essential oil is used by many people to promote a better night of sleep but unlike lavender oil, it does not cause you to feel overly drowsy.
Rose Essential Oil
This is an outstanding oil to use to feel more relaxed. Rose essential oil has a wonderful calming effect on the body and mind and can reduce the feelings of anxiety that often lead to disturbed sleep and nightmares. Try diffusing rose oil near your bed through the night or rubbing a few drops of oil into the soles of your feet before jumping into bed.
If you want to enhance the effect, you can blend rose essential oil with patchouli and sandalwood essential oils. Blend the oils together or use each one by itself. This combination leads to a more peaceful and relaxed sleep.
Vetiver Essential Oil
This oil is known for its earthy scent and it calms a person’s emotions. If the main cause of your bad dreams is physical, vetiver is on of the best essential oils to use.
Vetiver essential oil can help shut down an overactive mind that is preventing you from getting to sleep and may be the root cause of your nightmares. If you find the scent of this oil to be overly powerful, try diluting it with a lighter oils like lavender or Roman chamomile oil.
Sweet Orange Essential Oil
Sweet orange essential oil is another fragrant oil that can help relieve stress and anxiety and promote the calm needed to get a good night of sleep. According to some users, not only does it help them to sleep but it also banishes bad dreams.
How to Use Essential Oils
Oils for treating nightmares should either be placed under your or your child’s pillow or diffused in the sleeping room throughout the night. In the case of chamomile, you can use the herb in a tea as well before going to bed.
You may want to drink the tea and place a few drops of another essential oil under your pillow to guarantee a good night’s sleep. Place about five drops on the oil on a soft cloth or cotton.
You can also dilute your chosen essential oil with a suitable carrier oil and massage it into the bottoms of your feet before getting into bed.
Selecting the Right Carrier Oil
You can combine essential oils together, such as rose with sandalwood oil, for the best effect or use a carrier oil such as jojoba oil. Jojoba oil is an excellent oil to use with mandarin as it conveys a most pleasing scent.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best mix to use for getting a relaxing night’s sleep?
One of the best ways to get the full benefits of relaxant oils is to mix four drops of orange or mandarin essential oil with four drops of lavender oil and 10 drops of bergamot EO. You may also want to include a drop of chamomile oil or geranium oil for good measure. Vaporize the mixture and breathe it in before you go to bed at night.
Can you use essential oils in the bath? If so, what should you mix together?
You can use essential oils in the bath. A good recipe for a relaxing bath and good night’s sleep is to mix two drops of cedarwood essential oil with 12 drops of lavender essential oil. Add 30 drops of sandalwood EO along with 125 milliliters of jojoba oil.
Mix the ingredients together and place them in a glass bottle that is dark. Store the mix in a dark and cool area such as a closet. Apply the mix in the bath water before going to sleep at night.
What lifestyle changes should you make if you suffer from nightmares?
Make sure that you are eating a well-balanced diet. Stay away from processed foods and junk food. Eat nutritionally rich and lower-calorie foods to stay healthy and thin. Foods that are more nutritional or natural assist in relieving the stress that can trigger bad dreams.
Other Ways to Prevent Nightmares
Apart from trying essential oils to banish your nightmares, there are several other lifestyle and dietary changes that may help.
- Eat a good, nutritious diet and stay well hydrated.
- Don’t eat a heavy meal too near to your bed time to ensure you avoid any digestive troubles.
- Avoid drinking alcohol and caffeine near bed time since they can cause sleep disturbance and nightmares.
- Avoid watching tv or using your laptop, telephone or tablet in bed and make sure that your children also stay away from them before hitting the sack. Try playing some relaxing music or one of the many sleep inducing soundtracks available these days.
- Exercise can improve your mental state of mind and relieve the stress that causes nightmares.
- Hyperactivity in children may lead to nightmares so make sure your child is relaxed before they go to bed. Try reading a nice bed time story which may well help your child nod off and have more pleasant dreams.
Essential oils can help you get rid of bad dreams and sleep better. You just need to know what oils to select. The best oils to use for this type of treatment are lavender, chamomile, bergamot, mandarin, sandalwood, vetiver, and rose.
While there is obviously no guarantee that one or any of these oils can cure you of your nightmares, they are certainly worth trying. Many people have found that diffusing oils like lavender and chamomile can relax their minds and help them get a better night of sleep. If one oil does not work for you, try another or even a blend of oils until you find the right one for you.
You can either use a carrier oil such as jojoba to diffuse an oil or place one of the oils directly on a piece of soft cloth or cotton under your pillow.
Oils can be used in the bath water and vaporized as well for use. If you want to increase the effects of the oils, you should drink a soothing tea such as chamomile tea before going to bed. Anything you can do as well to reduce the stress in your life will help.
Focus on staying organized and reducing the number of activities that may you feel nervous or anxious. If you have any problems that you are not sure how to handle, schedule an appointment with a counselor to iron out your feelings and learn how to manage personal or professional issues.
Besides the oils, it is also good to develop a healthier diet. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables and eat wheat and grains instead of white bread, processed foods, and foods containing extra sugar. If you exercise more and eat more of the right food, using relaxing essential oils will make you feel better overall. Make sure that you are well versed in what oils are more relaxing and fully make use of them.