I'm very, very bad at sleeping. I can't recall if it's always been that way or if I've just become incredibly unlucky in recent years, but nevertheless, as much as I love sleep, sleep doesn't love me back. I can actually fall asleep really easily (and by that I mean I can fall asleep just about any time, anywhere), but I never sleep soundly and rarely feel well-rested. I admittedly haven't tried many things to help me sleep because I never wanted to rely on something like a sleeping pill. Instead, I decided to give the soothing benefits of lavender a try for a week to see if I'd notice any change.
I fall asleep really easily, but I never sleep soundly and rarely feel well-rested.
If you're unfamiliar, lavender essential oil can be used for a variety of things, including inducing restful sleep. Studies have shown that the scent of lavender can improve insomnia. One study noted that lavender may work better in younger subjects and among women.
For six nights, I worked my way through a variety of lavender products and saw mixed results. For two of the nights, I showered with lavender body wash and soap right before bedtime. Another three nights, I tried Lush Sleepy Lotion ($10), which is made with lavender, and lavender essential oil on my hands and feet. And on the final night, I took a bath with a Lush Ickle Baby Bot ($5), which may be made for kids, but what adult doesn't want a robot-shaped bath bomb?
What Worked and What Didn't
Showering with lavender soap and body wash, or bathing with a lavender bath bomb, didn't seem to leave me any more rested. As always, I was able to fall asleep easily, around my usual time of midnight, but woke up constantly throughout the night. I felt like I might have been sleeping more deeply, but I still woke up feeling the same as I usually do.
The nights I used the essential oil and Sleepy Lotion seemed to be more restful than I typically experience. Lush recommends slathering your skin in the Sleepy Lotion, but because I hate lotion (sorry, not sorry), I only put it on the top half of my body, then washed it off my hands. Then I rubbed the oil on the bottoms of my feet and put socks on — a friend swears by this method — and left a little residue on my hands. I did have to be careful with how much I used because my very needy cats not only sleep with me but also like to rub their heads on things and then lick their fur later, and I didn't want to run the risk.
I didn't try the Sleepy Lotion or essential oil separately, so I can't be sure if one worked more than the other, or if the magical combination is my saving grace, but I'll keep trying it out to see.
What I'll Do Next
There were a lot of variables at play during my week of lavender, so I think I need to do some more testing before I make a firm call on how much it helped. The nights I showered with the body wash happened to be after very stressful workdays, and I can never sleep soundly when I'm stressed out. The days I used the Sleepy Lotion and essential oil were weekend nights or nights my cats decided to leave me alone during the night.
Now that I have the Sleepy Lotion, though, and the essential oil, it's easy enough to keep using them in different ways on different parts of my body to see if they continue to be effective. If nothing else, I got a few more nights of restful sleep than I usually do, and I'll take whatever I can get. More importantly, there's no harm in experimenting with something so natural.