All this week, I’m sharing tips about how to use aromatherapy to treat certain issues related to your monthly cycle. If you missed any of these tips, you can find them here.
Today, let’s talk about a common premenstrual complaint: lousy sleep.
Your cycle and sleep
There are lots of factors that can cause lousy sleep: stress, worry, caffeine, blue light from electronic devices at night, watching a scary TV show right before going to bed and late-night eating.
What can also impact sleep: hormones in your monthly cycle.
At times, high estrogen in your Week 2 (the week leading up to and including ovulation) can keep you from falling asleep quickly by revving arousal in the brain. You may feel more awake at bedtime or have lots of thoughts streaming into your head.
But, you’re most likely to have sleep problems during your premenstrual week–the final six days leading up to your period.
On these cycle days, estrogen is falling. And, as it does, it can drag down levels of serotonin in the brain. That’s key since one of serotonin’s many functions is to help regulate sleep.
There are many proven ways to increase the likelihood that you’ll fall asleep fast and get sounder sleep, such as adhering to a sleep schedule (going to bed and waking up the same time every day), switching off electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime, skipping late-night snacks, avoiding pre-sleep arousing activities (such as scary TV shows and movies) and listening to lulling music for an hour before laying your head on your pillow.
What’s also been shown to help you get better-quality zzzs: aromatherapy.
Enjoy longer, deeper sleep with jasmine
When you want to boost your chances of falling asleep faster and getting deeper, more restorative slumber that has you waking up fully refreshed, consider turning to jasmine, for example, place fresh jasmine flowers by your bedside, apply a jasmine-scented moisturizer before bed or keep a jasmine sachet near your pillow.
A 2002 study from Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia found that a jasmine scent was so effective at lulling people to sleep, it beat out another well-known sleep-inducing scent–lavender.(1)
Later, a 2005 study from Japan and 2010 study out of Germany confirmed jasmine’s sleep-enhancing effect.(2, 3)
So, what’s this sweet fragrance’s secret? Aromatic compounds in jasmine act like a mild sedative, reducing anxiety and triggering relaxation, by increasing your brain’s level of soothing gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)–which is how anti-anxiety medications, like Valium, work.
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(1) “WJU Professor and Students Find Jasmine Odor Leads to More Restful Sleep, Decreased Anxiety and Greater Mental Performance”, news release, wju.edu/about/adm_news_story.asp?iNewsID=539&strBack=/about/adm_news_archive.asp
(2) “Sedative effects of the jasmine tea odor and (R)-(-)-linalool, one of its major odor components, on autonomic nerve activity and mood states”, European Journal of Applied Physiology, October 2005, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15976995
(3) “Intoxicating fragrance: jasmine as valium substitute” July 8, 2010, press release, aktuell.ruhr-uni-bochum.de/pm2010/pm00222.html