Lavender has been used for thousands of years as a relaxation aid and there are countless studies that prove it can mellow us out, soothe the central nervous system, ease anxiety and promote a restful night's slumber.
In one study at the University of Southampton, researchers tracked the sleep patterns of 10 adults over one week. Half of the participants slept in a room where lavender essential oil was diffused throughout the night. The rest were monitored in another room where a placebo oil was diffused.
The groups then changed rooms. At the end of the study, the participants were interviewed and those that slept in the lavender-scented room reported they had slept more soundly.
Another study at Wesleyan University in Connecticut had a similar outcome, with researchers monitoring 31 volunteers who slept in a lavender-scented room one night, and an unscented room the next.
The volunteers snoozed more soundly on the lavender night with researchers concluding that lavender increased slow-wave sleep – the deep, regenerative slumber essential for neurological function and immunity. Unsurprisingly, the volunteers also felt they had more energy the following morning.
So why does lavender seem to help us sleep so soundly?
It's all down to linalool, the principle naturally occurring chemical compound found in lavender, as well as other plants, like geranium and bergamot.
According to recent research published in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience linalool does ease anxiety, exhibiting a similar – if not superior – effect to commonly prescribed pharmaceuticals like Valium and Xanax. What is most intriguing is that linalool exerts its calming effect when it is smelled rather than absorbed in the bloodstream via the lungs, as previously thought.
“In folk medicine, it has long been believed that odorous compounds derived from plant extracts can relieve anxiety,” said Dr Hideki Kashiwadani, co-author of the study. “Among them, linalool has been reported to have the anxiolytic effects.”
“Many assumed that absorption into bloodstream via the airway led to direct effects on brain cell receptors such as GABAARs. But establishing the true mechanism of linalool’s relaxing effects is a key step in moving towards clinical use in humans.”
So, if you're struggling with insomnia, however mild, try diffusing lavender a few hours before bedtime. It's a simple, gentle yet effective treatment for a sound night's sleep. No pills required.
Distilled to exacting standards, Appellation's True Lavender is an exceptionally fragrant, organic essential oil sourced directly from artisanal distillers in Provence, rich in linalool and linalyl acetate, which relieve anxiety and tension.