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Essential oils for sleep apnea – A holistic approach to better sleep 

Posted on August 29th, 2023

Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. It’s characterized by interruptions in breathing during sleep, leading to fragmented and poor-quality rest. 

Medical intervention and lifestyle changes are essential for managing sleep apnea symptoms. However, alternative therapies like essential oils have gained popularity due to their ability to complement traditional treatments. 

What are essential oils?

Essential oils are highly concentrated plant extracts derived from various parts of plants, such as…

  • Flowers
  • Leaves
  • Stems
  • Roots
  • Fruits

These oils contain the characteristic fragrance and properties of the plant they are extracted from. Essential oils are obtained through processes like distillation, cold-pressing, or solvent extraction.

The term “essential” refers to the essence or distinctive scent of the plant rather than its health significance. These oils are used in aromatherapy and traditional medicine practices for their therapeutic properties and potential health benefits, including reducing sleep apnea symptoms. 

The connection between essential oils and sleep apnea

Essential oils can’t cure sleep apnea. However, they can complement existing treatment plans and reduce some of the symptoms associated with the condition. The calming and soothing effects of certain essential oils can help reduce stress, promote relaxation, and improve sleep quality.

Lavender oil

Lavender oil is one of the most widely recognized essential oils for promoting relaxation and stress relief. Its pleasant aroma has a sedative effect. This can help people with sleep apnea who often struggle with falling asleep due to anxiety and restlessness. Inhaling lavender oil before bedtime may help induce a state of calmness, making it easier to fall asleep. 

Peppermint oil

Peppermint oil is renowned for its ability to clear airways and improve respiratory function. In sleep apnea, breathing interruptions can be caused by blocked air passages. Using peppermint oil in a diffuser or applying it topically to the chest may help open up the airways and promote easier breathing during sleep.

Eucalyptus oil

Similar to peppermint oil, eucalyptus oil is known for its decongestant properties. By reducing nasal congestion and promoting clear breathing, eucalyptus oil can help people with sleep apnea who have obstructed airways. Eucalyptus oil’s refreshing scent can also create a calm atmosphere in the bedroom.

Chamomile oil

Chamomile oil is famous for its soothing effects on the nervous system. It has natural sedative properties that can reduce anxiety and promote relaxation. Inhaling chamomile oil or using it in a bedtime bath can be particularly effective in inducing tranquility before sleep.

Valerian root oil

Valerian root oil is another good option for improving sleep quality. Its relaxing properties can reduce muscle tension and promote deeper sleep.

How to use essential oils to reduce sleep apnea symptoms

There are multiple ways that you can use essential oils to help with sleep apnea. Your options include…

Aromatherapy diffusion

You can use an essential oil diffuser in your bedroom to disperse the oils into the air.

Topical application

You can dilute essential oils with a carrier oil (such as coconut oil or jojoba oil). Then, apply the mixture to your chest, neck, or back before bedtime and allow your skin to absorb the oils. 

Steam inhalation

Add a few drops of essential oil to a bowl of hot water. Place your face over the bowl (at a safe distance to avoid burns). Cover your head with a towel, and inhale the steam. 

Pillow spray

Create a calming pillow spray by mixing a few drops of essential oil with water in a small spray bottle. Spritz your pillow and bedding before sleep to enjoy the aromatic benefits.

Nasal inhalers

You can find empty nasal inhalers at health stores. Fill the inhaler with a few drops of essential oil and inhale the aroma before bedtime.

Consult an aromatherapist

If you’re new to essential oils or want personalized guidance, consider consulting an aromatherapist. A professional aromatherapist can recommend specific oils and blends based on your individual needs and wants. 

Essential oils can offer valuable benefits for people with sleep apnea. Essential oils promote relaxation, reduce stress, and improve sleep quality. However, they should be used as a complementary therapy alongside medical treatments and lifestyle changes. 

Before incorporating essential oils into your sleep routine, you should talk to a healthcare professional, especially if you have any pre-existing health conditions, allergies, or asthma. And remember, essential oils affect people differently. What works for one person may not work for someone else. 

Dr. Meghna Dassani has practiced dentistry for over two decades and is passionate about the role dentists play in whole-body health. You can learn more at her website:

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