*Please note, this article is for informational purposes only. If you’re considering the use of essential oils as part of your menopause relief plan, be sure to consult with your healthcare provider first.
Fortunately, nature provides gentle, yet effective sleep support in the form of essential oils, which can help you achieve better rest. Understanding how these natural substances work can guide you toward selecting the best essential oils for supporting your sleep during menopause.
Why Are Sleep Problems So Common During Menopause?
Due to hormonal fluctuations commonly experienced during perimenopause and menopause, many women deal with a lack of quality sleep — or lack of sleep in general. Symptoms such as night hot flashes, night sweats, depression and anxiety, as well as diet and other lifestyle choices, can all play a role in disrupting sleep.2
What Are Essential Oils, and How Can They Help During Menopause?
Essential oils are oils extracted from plants using steam or pressure that contain the “essence” of the plant. The practice of using essential oils to support health, known as aromatherapy, dates back thousands of years.3
When you breath in essential oils, scent molecules travel from the nerves in your nose to the brain, where they can impact emotions and physiological functions (such as influencing the release of serotonin or dopamine) based on the oil’s chemical composition.4
During the menopausal transition, certain essential oils may be useful for easing physical and emotional symptoms because they act as phytoestrogens, helping to balance hormones.5 For example, certain essential oils, like clary sage and geranium, have been shown to relieve depression, and neroli oil may help to improve sexual function.6
It's important to note that women with estrogen-dependent cancers or those who can't use hormones should avoid essential oils that contain phytoestrogens. Women in these groups can still employ aromatherapy to help attain better sleep during menopause but should exercise caution and check in with their healthcare providers first before starting anything new.7
What Are the Best Essential Oils for Sleep?
If your healthcare provider agrees that essential oils are right for you, you can start to explore your options. Throughout perimenopause and menopause, aromatherapy can help make your nights more restful. Some of the best essential oils to consider for supporting sleep include:
There’s strong science supporting the use of lavender for sleep.8
In one study of menopausal women with sleep problems, it was shown that inhaling lavender-infused steam significantly improved sleep and overall quality of life while simultaneously reducing specific menopause symptoms, such as hot flashes.9
If you’ve ever experienced the calming effect of chamomile tea, you’ll understand why this essential oil has been shown to help improve sleep.
A 2022 study found that a chamomile essential oil can promote relaxation, soothe frazzled nerves and even help to ease insomnia.10
In addition to its aforementioned potential ability to improve sexual function during menopause, neroli may also help to improve sleep.
A randomized, controlled trial involving 80 menopausal women ages 45-60 found that breathing in neroli essential oil significantly improved sleep quality.11
Essential oil made from this beloved flower has been found to relieve stress and improve rest.
A 2021 study found that inhalation of rose essential oil significantly reduced feelings of anxiety and improved sleep in a group of 40 emergency room staffers.12 Because this oil worked so well on a group of people under such intense levels of stress highlights rose oil’s potential to also help menopausal women struggling with anxiety to find their way to better rest.
Risks of Using Essential Oils
Although using essential oils for aromatherapy is generally considered safe, there are a few things to keep in mind.
- Since the FDA doesn’t regulate essential oils, you’ll want to seek out a reputable manufacturer of 100% pure, non-synthetic oils without any added ingredients.
- Because they are highly concentrated, essential oils should always be diluted in a carrier oil such as almond or olive oil. Start with a few drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier oil.13
- Before using an essential oil on your skin, do a patch test to check for any irritation or allergic reaction – be sure to wait 24 hours to see if you’ve had any negative reaction prior to use. Additionally, essential oils should not be used internally and should be used with caution in bathwater as they do have the potential to irritate skin, more specifically the urethra and vagina.14
- Keep essential oils away from children or pets and never consume them orally, as they may be toxic.15
- Most importantly, be sure to check in with your healthcare provider first before incorporating essential oils into your routine. They’ll be able to let you know about any potential interactions with medications you may be using or potential allergens that may negatively impact your health or exacerbate certain conditions, like asthma.16
Other Natural Sleep Aids
Essential oils are far from your only option when it comes to more natural sleep support during menopause. Minerals such as magnesium and herbs such as valerian root have been scientifically shown to improve sleep.17
Hormone-free and plant-based formulations, such as Relizen®, may also be helpful to consider, as they are designed to ease certain sleep-disruptive menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats, that so often negatively impact sleep.18
Safe Sleep Support During Menopause and Beyond
If you’re struggling to get a good night’s rest, try to remember two things: You’re not alone, and relief is possible. Essential oils offer a gentle yet effective approach to improving sleep during the menopausal transition, but remember, don’t hesitate to consult your healthcare provider if you feel your sleeplessness is negatively impacting your quality of life.
- Winther K, et al. Climacteric. 2005;8:162-170., Elia D, Mares P. Genesis. 2008:135:12-15., Hellstrom AC, Muntzing J. Menopause. 2012;19(7):825-829., and Munoz E. VivaCell Biotechnology GmbH. Internal Report. July 2012