Essential oils have been used for hundreds of years for many different ailments. From stress and lack of energy to insomnia and even depression, essential oils have been developed and used for health and mood improvement across the globe and in a myriad of different cultures, from ancient to modern times. While the efficacy of these oils is still under debate, it doesn’t stop hundreds of thousands of families around the world from using them. One of the most common uses is for the promotion of better sleep. If you’re curious about trying them, here are the top six recommended essential oils for the restfulness and improvement of sleep quality:


Jasmine has been used for stress and tension for centuries, and its use has been recorded as far back as ancient Greece and Egypt. Modern scientists have dedicated a great deal of research to studying its effectiveness. The Journal of Biological Chemistry published a study that seems to make a very strong case for the use of jasmine for anxiety and restlessness. “They tested hundreds of fragrances to determine their effect on GABA receptors in humans and mice and found jasmine increased the GABA effect by more than five times and acted as strongly as sedatives, sleeping pills and relaxants.” (Read about it in The Telegraph here.)

Ylang Ylang

Ylang Ylang is used for a multitude of ailments in the essential oils community, from digestive issues to poor skin and hair quality. One its most well-known uses is as a mood enhancer. According to, “The sedative effects of ylang ylang can also reduce stress naturally and fight insomnia without the need for drugs.” (Read the article here.)


Vanilla has long been used as a powerful relaxer. An article on references a study in which “people who smelled vanilla while completing a stress test had more stable heart rates and better blood pressure readings than those who took the stress test in an unscented room.” (You can read that article here.) Vanilla has a calming effect which many attribute to positive memory associations.


Often compared to the smell of lemons or oranges, the scent of bergamot is often used for its uplifting quality. It is often described as refreshing, relaxing, and calming and is typically combined with other essential oils to improve mood.

Clary Sage

An article published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine references a study that investigated the effect of the inhalation of clary sage on female patients undergoing urodynamic examination. The study found that inhalation of clary sage oil “resulted in statistically significant reductions in respiratory rate.” Furthermore, it concluded that “clary oil inhalation may be useful in inducing relaxation.” (You can read that article here.)


Finally, there is lavender–the king of all essential oils believed to improve sleep quality. Perhaps more studied than any other essential oil, lavender has been shown to significantly reduce tension through its inhalation. An article on the Huffington Post states, “Studies using electroencephalography (EEG), which measures brain waves, and brain imaging using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) show significant changes during lavender aromatherapy consistent with its relaxing effects.” (Read the article here.)

The Bottom Line

Many people believe strongly in the power of essential oils to calm, relax, and promote better sleep. While these may certainly help to get a better night’s sleep, it’s important to consider the source of the sleep problem in the first place. If your sleep is being negatively impacted by stress and tension, essential oils might help ameliorate these symptoms temporarily to allow for better sleep. However, if your sleep is suffering because of health issues, such as depression or sleep apnea, oils will be a very small bandaid, at best. Sleep apnea is especially detrimental to one’s health when ignored, and no amount of essential oils will cure sleep apnea. If you or your loved one is exhibiting symptoms of sleep apnea, the best thing to do is to consult with a health care professional as soon as possible. Click here to find a provider near you!

Signs of Sleep Apnea

To learn more about the symptoms of sleep apnea, read up on our blog: