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As a shift worker, I had never appreciated the true benefits of the essential oil, lavender until well into my nursing career and jeez I wish I knew sooner!
A fellow shift worker and friend of ours used it and swore that lavender oil helped him sleep, relax and even aided getting him away from some sleep medication. Seeing this first hand, we decided to also give lavender a shot and have never looked back.
The fresh floral scent of lavender is a true delight for our sense of smell and aids in obtaining a better night sleep whilst working all kinds of shifts.
Shift workers, let’s explore and begin to appreciate lavender and see what it can do for you and your sleep
What Is Lavender?
Lavender or Lavandula angustifolia is a sun-loving plant with slim, sage green leaves and spiky purple flowers. It’s a herb but is often mistaken for a weed because it grows so quickly.
It is known to have antibacterial and pain relief properties and is also 100% natural. It has strong links to improving symptoms of depression, improving brain function, increasing mood, lowering perceived stress and importantly sleep.
Sleep, Lavender and Shift Work
Lavender is essentially a natural relaxant, which helps you de-stress and feel generally calmer.
The oil present in the flowers spikes is the reason behind this. Using lavender whilst sleeping will best prepare you for a deeper, high-quality sleep, despite how busy your shift has been.
Us humans are thought to move through five different stages of sleep in a typical night and four of those stages are called NREM (non-rapid eye movement) and the other being REM (rapid eye movement). Let me explain.
Lavender and REM Sleep
As the name suggests, rapid and random eye movement characterizes REM. Most of the muscles in the body become paralysed, and we begin learning and processing new information and is also when dreams occur.
When lavender is inhaled or consumed, the time we spend in REM is shortened and we quickly move into NREM where important, recuperative processes occur.
Lavender and NREM Sleep
NREM sleep also known as slow wave sleep (SWS) is prolonged when we are exposed to lavender.
NREM is considered essential to deep, nourishing sleep where the body releases hormones and proteins that heal tissue and boost the immune system.
During this stage your heartbeat slows, muscles relax and your brain is busy organizing memory, which is critical for processing information.
Upon waking from NREM, Lavender is thought to relieve sleepiness quicker, making you feel more energized when that alarm rings for the next shift.
How Can Shift Workers Realistically Use Lavender to Aid Sleep?
Try smelling lavender every time you nap or when it’s time to sleep.
Train your brain into making the connection between lavender and sleep, as it is the key to falling asleep quicker and staying asleep for longer.
There are many methods you can use depending on preference
1. Oil Aromatherapy diffusers – Here are our top three and reasons why we love them
InnoGear Essential Oil Diffuser – Small, quiet and reasonable price in comparison to some others and it also comes with a light.
Bamboo Essential Oil Diffuser – It’s attractive and comes with 7 changing colours which can be faded or turned off altogether. There is also a slight trickle of water which can be heard if you really listen, which may act as a soothing sound to help sleep.
Advanced Aromatherapy Essential Oil Diffuser – This diffuser uses totally different technology (atomizing rather than an ultrasonic) meaning it creates an ultra-fine mist, hence the different look and price point.
It is much louder then the other defusers which is a positive if you are looking for some white noise distraction. Atomizing is thought to be more effective due to the size of the particles.
2. Spray bottle
Cheap and easy to use. Lightly spray your pillowcase before bed each night about 10 minutes before you sleep. Add 20 drops of essential oil into a glass spray bottle. Fill the remaining 4oz bottle with water.
Apply Lavender oil over certain parts of the body, in particular, the trigger points such as the bottoms of your feet, on the wrists, behind the knees and behind the ears and also in your hair.
4. Sprinkle pure essential oil on your pillow
Or a few drops on a piece of tissue and tuck it under your pillow or place a few drops onto a cold face washer/cold compress and place it on your forehead.
– Our top choice lavender oil is the French Lavender Essential Oil Blend because it seems to be the most concentrated so it goes a long way and comes with a glass dropper for convenience.
If you don’t like the smell of lavender, try adding oils which are also infused with something else like apple, mint or vanilla. This may give lavender a whole new meaning. try this one – Good Sleep Essential Oil
John Parkinson, a 17th-century London apothecary, wrote that lavender is…
Summary: Embracing Lavender is the Key to Sleep for Shift Workers
Lavender a good alternative and beneficial for those who have trouble sleeping and in avoiding potential negative side effects as a result of taking prescribed sleep aids. Why not try this cheap trick if you haven’t already?
Be cautious though if you are already taking prescription sedatives or other medication as there can be drug interactions. Also, you may be allergic so discontinue use if you start sneezing repetitively, notice a bad rash, or other unusual symptoms.
Please comment below and we look forward to reading what worked, so we can try it too.
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