How To Choose Essential Oils for A Better Sleep
Anyone who has spent a sleepless night knows the toll that it can take on both the mind and the body. Regular, uninterrupted sleep is a critical component of good health. Unfortunately, though, around 1 in three individuals experience mild to severe forms of insomnia. Many people try sleeping pills, but these can lead to a toxic dependency that ends up causing more harm than good. Instead, it’s best to turn to natural methods when you’re having trouble drifting off.
Aromatherapy has long been used as a way to help relax the mind and body, inducing a peaceful, sleepy state. Today, many people still turn to essential oils to help themselves sleep, either diffusing them, using them as a topical ointment, bathing with them, or sprinkling the scent onto pillows. There are several essential oils commonly found on the holistic market that are thought to have calming properties.
Many of us have heard from our mother or grandmother that Lavender helps to soothe the soul, but this is more than just a pass-me-down home remedy. Studies have shown that lavender can act as a mild sedative, inducing sleep and stabilizing mood. You can add two drops of lavender into a pillow or use an oil extract to help calm yourself before bedtime.
Translated as “flower of flowers,” this plant is used in traditional medicine to help alleviate stress and anxiety and restore a sense of peace at the end of the day. It comes from the flowers of the Cananga tree, a species native to Indonesia, and it’s known for its sweet yet fruity scent. Ylang ylang oil may irritate the skin, but for most people, it’s fine in aerosolized form.
As the name suggests, chamomile was used extensively in the Roman era as a medicinal herb. It’s known as a natural sedative, and chamomile tea is often brewed for sick of colicky children to help with sleep. In addition to tea, chamomile can also be vaporized or dried and used in potpourri.
Essential oils offer a safe and natural way to help induce sleep in people who suffer from insomnia. Herbs and flowers can help to calm our minds and bodies through smell alone, leaving us feeling calmer and more at peace. If you’re having difficulty sleeping through the night, you may want to consider adding essential oils to your bedtime ritual to help yourself relax.
Top 5 reasons to try a weighted blanket or weighted lap pad
What is a weighted blanket?
It is a heavy blanket filled with pellets that help distribute weight evenly across the body to promote relaxation.
Weighted blankets have long been used in the occupational therapy field as an aid for children on the autism spectrum and those suffering from attention deficit disorder (ADHD) or sensory issues. Similar to cuddling, hugging or squeezing, the blankets or pads provide deep pressure therapy that helps to calm the body and reduce the physical effects of stress, such as a raised heart rate and high blood pressure.
Top 5 reasons to try a weighted blanket
1/ Stress and anxiety
Stress manifests in the physical body in ways such as raised heart rate, short, shallow breathing and increased blood pressure. The deep pressure touch provided by weighted blankets can help reduce stress and anxiety by lowering the physiological indicators of stress. It also promotes the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate certain brain functions such as mood regulation, sleep, and memory. This helps the body to naturally switch from the parasympathetic nervous system (“fight or flight”) to the sympathetic nervous system (“rest and recover”).
The positive calming effects of weighted blankets can also have a positive impact on sleep time and behaviour, allowing you to sleep longer and deeper.
3/ A complementary tool for many psychological, physiological and neurological conditions
It is not surprising then, that the calming effect of weighted blankets can be beneficial to people suffering from a wide range of conditions such as restless leg syndrome, depression, bi-polar, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), sensory processing disorder, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, neurological problems and even menopause.
4/ Chronic pain
Acute pain is usually a signal to the brain that an injury has occurred. Chronic pain is different, as it can last for months or even years after an injury occurred, often completely independent of the original injury or medical condition that started it. Chronic pain can lead to anxiety, irritability, poor sleep and depression. The deep pressure therapy provided by weighted blankets can be beneficial to those suffering from chronic pain by reducing stress and helping them sleep.
5/ Tool for self-regulation
Children who experience sensory overstimulation experience very real physiological symptoms. Weighted blankets can be used as a tool to promote regulation, calming and re-focusing. Children can easily use a weighted blanket to drape around their shoulders or their legs when seated, or covering their bodies when lying down. It can lower stress and provide a coping strategy for times when they feel anxious.
How much weight do I need?
For adults, it is recommended to use a blanket that weighs about 10% of their body weight. It is a matter of personal preference, though, and probably a good idea to try a couple before settling on the one you want.
It is not recommended to let children use weighted blankets unsupervised under the age of 6. Even then, children should be able to remove the blanket independently.
If you have a medical condition, it is recommended to consult a doctor or occupational therapist before using a weighted blanket. Weighted blankets are a complementary tool and should not replace medication and appropriate medical supervision.
What is a weighted lap pad?
A weighted lap pad is a sensory tool that applies deep pressure touch to the legs while seated. It functions much like a weighted blanket, but is smaller in size. The weighted lap pad is often used for its calming, grounding effect that allows the user to focus for longer.
Top 5 reasons to try a weighted lap pad
The weighted lap pad applies deep pressure touch to a person’s legs, providing a calming, grounding effect and can help with focussing for longer. Many people claim that it helps them when studying, writing or working.
Weighted blankets can be expensive and weighted lap pads provide a more affordable option.
3/ Easier Washing
Lap pads are usually easier to clean due to their smaller size. Many weighted lap pads will have removable covers that are machine washable.
4/ More Discreet
Their smaller size also means weighted lap pads are a more discreet and comfortable option for the workplace. It is also easier to take it with you to work or school.
5/ Meditation tool
The calming, grounding effect of the weighted blanket can also be used as a meditation tool. Whether you meditate sitting in a chair, on the floor, or lying down, the weight of the lap pad can help you focus on the here and now.
Things to consider when choosing a weighted blanket or lap pad
Fabric – The fabric should be soothing but not overly distracting. A soft, plush fabric is usually a good choice.
Washing – Is it easy to wash? Some weighted blankets have removable weights to make the cover machine washable. Some are washable with the weights still inside but you should check that it is not too heavy to be washed in your washing machine. Weighted lap pads will often have removable, machine washable covers.
The Warm Buddy Warming Blanket
The Warming Blanket is 15″ x 19″ in size and weighs 4.5 lb. It can be used as a weighted lap pad when seated, or on the torso while lying down. You can also drape the Warming Blanket over you hips, lower back or any area of your body where you are experiencing aches and pains. It applies deep pressure touch to the body, helping to reduce the physiological indicators of stress.
The Warming Blanket can also be heated in the microwave for the added benefit of heat therapy, helping to reduce aches and pains and improve sleep. You could also add a few drops of essential oil to the heat pack after heating.
All Warm Buddy heat therapy products have undergone extensive testing and are recognised and sold as a Class 1 Medical Product.
The cover is made from a luxurious, soft fabric and is machine washable.
The Warm Buddy Warming Blanket is proudly made in Canada.
A recent study revealed that one in three Canadians is sleep-deprived. Given the known links between quality of sleep and mental and physical health, this is a very worrying statistic that needs to be addressed. Raising an awareness of the importance of sleep is vital, together with ways in which you can regularly sleep well. Scented heat wraps are very effective at promoting sleep, for example. Keeping electronic devices and other forms of stimulation out of our sight at bedtime is also crucial.
Benefits of sleep to our health
Finding ways of getting to sleep seem tricky. However, heat therapy can be very helpful in this respect. Heat increases oxygen flow around the body, easing any aches and pains whilst also helping you calm your mind and ‘switch off’. Simply place a heat wrap on any areas of tension and relax into it.
To be well rested, we need to go through two stages of sleep: ‘quiet’ sleep, during which we gradually enter deeper and deeper levels of sleep, and Rapid Eye Movement (REM), which is when we dream. These stages all play a huge role in our physical and emotional health:
1. Sleep improves our mood
Sleep quality suppresses activity in the amygdala, which is the part of the brain responsible for emotions. By doing so, we are less likely to wake up feeling agitated or depressed, but rather refreshed and positive about the day ahead. One way of helping your mind to relax is to put all electronic devices away and allow yourself to enjoy the comfort of your bed. In this way, it is important to ensure that you have a supportive, high-quality mattress. There are various types of materials and sleep-inducing cushioning to choose from and it is worth putting the time into doing so.
2. Sleep makes you strong
It may be surprising to know that during sleep, your muscles are growing. While you sleep, your body repairs all the tissues in your body, including muscles. It creates more of the growth hormones testosterone and melatonin, resulting in stronger muscles. Adequate sleep is therefore particularly important for bodybuilders; you can’t just rely on the gym and diet.
3. Sleep helps keep weight down
Studies show that you are 55-89% likely to gain weight if sleep-deprived, depending on your age. Sleep deprivation disrupts the hunger hormones leptin and ghrelin, resulting in higher consumption of calories. It is also the case that tiredness results in people reaching out for a quick sugar-fix, which means more calories.
4. Sleep improves our memory
Research suggests that memory consolidation takes place during sleep. This is when our brains process short-term memories and convert them into long-term ones. This includes learning new skills: sleep helps us to retain new information. A lack of sleep does not allow enough time for this process to happen, resulting in a hazy head and forgetfulness.
5. Sleep makes you more creative
Recent research has revealed how the brain reorganizes memories during the consolidation process. This can often boost creative in people – thanks no doubt in part to feeling refreshed and energised.
6. Sleep strengthens your immune system
The fourth and final stage of ‘quiet’ sleep is the most crucial for ensuring you feel energised when you wake. Your muscles are at their most relaxed and your breathing and heart rate slow right down. These physiological changes strengthen your immune system, putting you at less risk of illness and burnout.
7. Sleep improves your reaction times
This is quite straightforward really. If you have not slept enough, you are likely to feel lethargic when you wake. This means you will be slower to react to sudden movements or noises. Being well rested therefore makes you safer, particularly in potentially dangerous situations like driving.
Make time for sleep each night. It is as important an activity in your daily life as what you eat and drink and the amount of exercise you do. The role it plays in your emotional and physical health is crucial.
Lavender and its many uses
Do you remember as a child walking past lavender and pulling off a few of the flowers and squeezing them between your fingers and smelling the sweet aroma all the way home?
Now when you do the same thing in milliseconds it takes you back to your childhood.
A smell can bring on a flood of memories, influence people’s moods and even affect their work performance. Because the olfactory bulb is part of the brain’s limbic system, an area so closely associated with memory and feeling it’s sometimes called the “emotional brain,” smell can call up memories and powerful responses almost instantaneously.
That is one of the beauties of Aromatherapy it transcends all boundaries.
Here are some of the other benefits and uses of Lavender:
(if you haven’t used lavender before always do a test to see if allergic)
Lavender oil is one of a few oils that can be put directly neat onto the skin.
Acne, allergies, anxiety, asthma, athlete’s foot, bruises, burns, chicken pox, colic, cuts, cystitis, depression, dermatitis, dysmenorrheal, earache, flatulence, headache, hypertension, insect bites, insect repellent, itching, labor pains, migraine, oily skin, rheumatism, scabies, scars, sores, sprains, strains, stress, stretch marks, vertigo, whooping cough.
Here are some of the many uses of lavender essential oil:
Relaxing nervous tension (Stress):
Lavender aromatherapy has been clinically evaluated for its relaxing effects on the nervous system. It helps with migraines, headaches, anxiety, depression, nervous tension and emotional stress. Just dab a few drops on your temples, neck and wrists and put a few drops on a cotton ball and keep close by & sniff throughout the day, this will calm you.
Because lavender aromatherapy is so relaxing and calming, it helps induce sleep and is often used for insomnia. Put a few drops on your pillow at bedtime, or in the bedroom in a diffuser.
Lavender’s relaxing and anti-inflammatory qualities make it an excellent remedy for muscle pain and tension. There’s nothing more wonderful than a taking a hot bath with lavender essential oil to soothe and relax sore or overworked muscles or rheumatism. Be sure to add the lavender oil to bath salts or epsom salts first so they will mix with the water.
Gently massage lavender over the lower abdomen, in a circular motion for menstrual, pre-menstrual or menopausal tension.
Lavender aromatherapy is extensively used for various respiratory problems including throat infections, asthma, bronchitis, flu, cough, cold, asthma, sinus congestion, etc. It can be diffused into a vapor or applied topically onto the neck, chest and soles of the feet.
Lavender Skin Care:
Lavender essential oil is ideal for skin care because it is gentle, yet effective. It moisturizes, helps skin maintain elasticity and prevents the build up of excess sebum – a skin oil that bacteria feed on. It helps skin conditions such as acne, wrinkles, dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis and rashes and helps minimize stretch marks. It is also beneficial for cleansing cuts and wounds as well as burns and sunburns as it stimulates healing. It is also helpful for bruises, hives and insect bites.
Lavender essential oil is useful for the hair and scalp as it conditions the scalp and prevents the build up of excess sebum. It’s antiseptic qualities disinfect the scalp, help dandruff, hair loss and prevent and treat head lice.
A massage with lavender essential oil is a supremely relaxing and aromatic experience. Both sore muscles and joints respond to lavender’s anti-inflammatory and relaxing effects.
In ancient days, small bundles of dried lavender were placed in closets to help keep clothes smelling fresh and keep moths away. You can do the same today by hanging sachet bags inside your closet or placing them between your sheets, in the laundry room and on your pillow. Or you can hang ceramic pieces that you’ve infused with lavender essential oil.
Lavender aromatherapy is ideal for restless children and babies because it it so gentle and calming, yet powerfully antiseptic. Also because of lavender’s gentleness, it can be used “neat” (full-strength) even on baby’s skin without dilution.
Put a couple of drops of lavender on a piece of cloth and place this in your drier; it will make the clothes smell oh so fresh.
Lavender essential oil is also good for improving blood circulation in the body. It also lowers blood pressure and is used for hypertension.
Lavender oil is useful for digestion as it increases the mobility of the intestine. The oil also stimulates the production of gastric juices and bile and thus aids in treating indigestion, stomach pain, colic, flatulence, vomiting and diarrhea.
Regular use of lavender essential oil provides resistance to diseases.
The health benefits of lavender oil for the skin can be attributed to its antiseptic and antifungal properties. It is used to treat various skin disorders such as acne, wrinkles, psoriasis, and other
Excellent for aching muscles, relaxation, stress relief. Add 6-8 drops Lavender essential oil after running the water and vigorously agitate water. Add the drops to a cupful of milk or Epsom salts and then put in the bath as this helps to disperse the oils through out the water. This is a great way to receive the benefits of Lavender oil. Lie back and enjoy!
After wetting your hair, add 3 drops Lavender oil to a cupful of water and tip onto your head. Stand under running water and allow oils to rinse off. Cup your hands over your face and breathe in the vapours. Add oils when shampooing your hair and rinse off as normal.
Fill the top dish of an ‘oil burner’ or ‘vaporizer’ with water and add 6-8 drops of Lavender oil. Place a lit tea light candle in the space provided underneath the dish. This is a very good way to receive the benefits of the Lavender oil. Use in the bedroom or living room. Vaporization is especially good to use when you have a cold or feel unwell. Keep burner away from draughts and open windows. Hint: use warm water in the dish for quicker results.
Lavender Oil Massage
This is a particularly effective way to apply the oils when you have tight and sore muscles or have sustained an injury. The oils will be absorbed quickly into the blood stream, thus assisting the body and mind. NEVER massage UNDILUTED oils, always use a good quality vegetable or carrier oil. Add 5 drops of Lavender oil per 10ml of vegetable oil. Use 1-2 drops for babies and the elderly. Only use lavender with babies.
Good for instant relief from flu, sinusitis and anxiety. Use 1-3 drops Lavender oil and inhale immediately as required.
Lavender Steam Inhalation
Great for colds and flu or as part of a skin/care acne regime. Add 4-6 drops to a bowl of hot water. Place a towel over your head and breathe in the vapour. Keep your eyes shut. Continue to breathe deeply for a few minutes, occasionally removing the towel and your head from the bowl.
Lavender Hand/Foot Bath
Great for tired feet, fatigue or sore/dry hands. Add 4-6 drops Lavender oil to a large bowl of warm water and soak for approx 10 minutes. Then apply a Lavender lotion for added benefits.
In a bowl or warm water add 6-8 drops Lavender oil and swirl around. Soak a cloth then gently squeeze out and apply to area of your body you wish to treat. Use cold water for treating new muscular injuries or sprains.
Lavender direct for Burns
After running cold water on the burn for approx 10 minutes, put a few drops of neat lavender oil onto the burnt area (including sunburn). This will greatly assist the healing process. ONLY use lavender. Remember serious burns must be seen to by a doctor.
The dosages mentioned are recommended for average sized adults. For the elderly, disabled, the very sick or young children, half the dose is recommended.
Business cards and Stationery:
When you give out business cards or stationery why not make a more memorable statement.
Take a tissue and place a few drops of lavender oil on it, then take a freezer bag and place your business cards, stationery, Christmas cards in the reseal able plastic bag then put the tissue with the lavender oil on it into the bag and seal it, leave it for a day or so, the lavender aroma will be absorbed by the paper.
Add a few drops of lavender oil to the vacuum filter, this will make this job more appealing and less stressful.
Lavender should not be used during the early stages of pregnancy. Use Lavender with caution if you have low blood pressure.
Some oils can cause sensitization or allergic reactions in some individuals. Lavender is one of the few oils that can be used neat,it does not have to be diluted with a carrier oil,to get better coverage when massaging it is best used in a carrier oil.
When using a new oil for the first time, do a skin patch on a small area of skin. Place a small amount of the diluted essential oil (never use essential oils undiluted on the skin, however, Lavender is an exception to this rule as is tea Tree oil.) on the inside of your elbow and apply a bandage. Wait 24 hours to see if there is any form of reaction. Even if a particular essential oil is not known to cause irritation, this step should not be ignored. Even if oil does not irritate you, it still can irritate someone else. It is important that you always keep that in mind.
Aches and pains: We have been using lavender in our body wraps since 1995, as the therapeutic benefits of the heat and lavender help to relax muscles and keep you calm.
Lavender is also antimicrobial, anti-infectious and antiseptic, making it effective in the treatment of wounds and as a front line defense against respiratory infection. It is tonic to the cardiovascular and digestive systems, lowers blood pressure and helps thin the blood due to the presence of coumarins. Lavender is indicated for muscle spasm, sprain, strain, cramp, contracture and rheumatic pain. It is sedative to the central nervous system and relieves headache, nervous tension, and insomnia; it can also help balance mood swings. Spiritually, lavender is said to balance the physical, astral and etheric planes.
Because of lavender’s many therapeutic properties, if I were stranded on a desert island with only one essential oil, it would be lavender (it also takes the itch out of insect bites and helps heal sunburn!) But what other essential oils can be called in to use here in civilization? What should you use if your client does not want the deep relaxation or sleep-inducing effect of lavender, or if they have a tendency toward lowered metabolism or low blood pressure? What if they need to relax because they are about to take an exam, give a presentation or walk down the aisle?
*Article taken from www.wildflowersaromatherapy.com
Poor Katelyn had lost her Dream Pet Bear sometime in the spring of this year.
She was so attached to the bear that her mother, Alanna, made her a LIFE SIZE Warm Buddy Bear for her Halloween Costume! Very talented mom!!
If you have any information regarding the disappearance of this bear, please let us know.
Our Warm Buddy Body Wrap and Aromatherapy Sleep Mask were recently reviewed by Dr. Cary A. Brown. She is a Professor at the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Alberta.
This product is well suited for many people to help promote sleep. Research shows that one way to help people fall asleep naturally is to raise the core body temperature slightly. When the heat source is removed, the core body temperature drops. This slight drop in core body temperature signals the body to make certain hormones that help with sleep. The heated body wrap, either held across the lap, or laying lengthwise on top of the body, is ideal to raise core body temperature slightly. Then, when the wrap cools, core body temperature will start to drop and you are more likely to fall asleep. The key is the heating up and then cooling down process. That’s why we like to be cozy when we go to bed but cannot sleep if it is too warm all night long. The Body Wrap is very pleasant to hold and soft on the skin. The aromatherapy is relaxing as well. People I spoke to all felt that the way the Body Wrap draped and conformed for full body contact was a very positive feature. Research also shows that moderate pressure, for most people, is more relaxing than light and so the weight of the Body Wrap is also helpful to produce a pleasant, relaxing sensation.
Aromatherapy Sleep Mark
This is the best sleep mask I have ever tried! I and three other people tried it out and we all agreed it conforms to the contours of your face perfectly and does not allow any light to creep in around the edges. This is important for sleep because as soon as the light level (measured in lux) in the bedroom is 30 lux or greater, your body slows down the production of hormones that you need to go to sleep and stay asleep. Thirty lux is equivalent to the light level at dusk and the average office is about 300-500 lux. The strap needed some adjusting the first time but we all agreed that the nice wide elastic band was more comfortable than the thin elastics on most sleep masks. The cover material is very comfortable and did not irritate anyone’s skin. We tried the mask heated, room temperature and cooled in the fridge- and it was comfortable at all three temperatures. The slight weight and the aromatherapy were also very pleasant and relaxing. Most sleep mask get discarded in frustration because they shift around as you try to go to sleep and that did not happen with this product.
For more information about passive body warming to help promote sleep they can look at:
Sports medicine researchers at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) have concluded that heat wrap therapy is more effective for relieving lower back pain than drugs such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen.
The results were published in Spine Magazine. In the six-month study involving 371 patients, participants were given the maximum recommended non-prescription dosages of ibuprofen and acetaminophen or heat wrap therapy for two days to treat acute lower back pain.
The results showed that the heat wrap therapy provided significantly more pain relief beginning on the first day of treatment than the oral pain relief medications, and that the effects lasted more than 48 hours after the treatment was completed.
Dr. Nadler states, “Confirming that this [heat therapy] treatment is effective is important to patients because it gives them a treatment option that does not have the potential risk to the liver, kidneys, and gastrointestinal tract than can accompany inappropriate analgesic (oral pain medication) usage.” The heat wrap treatments for low back pain also proved to be “better than oral analgesics because it goes beyond pain relief to provide muscle relaxation and increased flexibility.”
Low back pain is the leading cause of disability in people under age 45 and the cost to society is estimated to range from $20 to $50 billion per year, according to statistics provided by the Agency for Healthcare Policy and Research of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Perfect Heat Wrap Therapy Products
A Warm Buddy Sports Therapy Wrap (pictured below) or Body Wrap is the perfect heat wrap to help relieve lower back pain. Warm Buddy products promote relaxation and provide natural relief from aches, pains and stress.
The Full Heat Wrap Therapy Study
Warm Buddy heat therapy products were not used in the study. The full study can be found here: Spine Magazine Heat Therapy Study.