By Paris Wolfe, Blogmaster, The Herb Society of America
Sleep is a pillar of good health and at least one-third of Americans are getting less than they need. That might result in higher health care costs and lower quality of life. Herbs and essential oils can play a role in the solution.
“When you look at recent research, sleep deprivation can really have some damaging effects on our long-term health,” says Katlyn Hatcher, director of spa and wellness at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort. “It affects mood, relationships, work functioning. It can affect your mental health and increase your risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia, Long-term studies have even shown that consistent lack of sleep can drop your metabolism up to 40 percent.”
To help people manage sleep-related issues and improve their health, experts at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, just outside Pittsburgh, are pioneering a Sleep Revolution Retreat. Guests sign up for immersive two- or four-night packages that include exercise, yoga, meditation, relaxation treatments, journaling and essential oils. The workshops are conducted at the five-star Falling Rock boutique hotel that’s part of the Nemacolin complex.
“One thing that blew me away is that, in 2015, Americans spent $41 billion on sleeping pills and sleeping aids,” says Katlyn. “People want better sleep, but may not have the tools.”
Among the many tools she offers is aromatherapy, using herbal essential oils to encourage healthy sleep. She says
- Lavender is calming to the nervous system. It lowers blood pressure and heart rate. It can be rubbed on pressure points like the wrist and neck or used in a diffuser in the bedroom.
- Citrus aromas like lemon and bergamot relieve tension and anxiety. At the resort’s spa technicians use lotions with a bergamot scent to finish treatments.
- Clary sage helps with relaxation and some research suggests it has an antidepressant benefit.
The spa has a local vendor custom blend essential oils with carrier oils for their use. Proprietary blends of essential oils are mixed with two-thirds fragmented coconut oil and one-third grape seed for massage oil. “If you want to make your own massage oil, you can add more or less to your liking,” Katlyn advises. “It’s a great thing to incorporate at home. Rub it onto your hands, hover hands over your face and do three deep inhalations.”
Of course, herbal teas have a place in sleep preparation as well. “I think the act of making and sipping tea can be a meditation and very relaxing,” sh says. “Herbal tea can be great for your routine. Jasmine tea has a sweet aroma. Chamomile is great for calming as well.”
“Aromatherapy is great,” she says, “but, you do have to be careful. I don’t recommend ingesting essential oils.”