Essential oils are a great way to combat the effects of fatigue from an intensive period of overwork, travel, insomnia, or other stress; but they are intended to be a short term solution to a temporary problem. There’s one caveat, however. Essential oils have several properties and all of those properties will be in effect when you use them. So if you’re fatigued from lack of sleep, the solution is not as simple as just picking a pleasant smelling oil that’s listed as a stimulant; you also have to know why you’re not sleeping and address that. It’s also important to distinguish between physical fatigue and mental fatigue. But don’t worry, I’m here to give you a little guidance – hopefully without overwhelming you.
Stimulating, keeps you alert if you have jet lag or have been staying up too late Do not use any of these oils within 6 hours of bedtime. Remember, they’re stimulants and will prevent you from being able to fall asleep; their stimulating effects may decrease the amount of time you’re able to stay asleep as well.
These oils can be applied undiluted to the bottom of the feet, or to the pulse points if diluted with some unscented lotion or oil. You can also put a few drops on a cotton ball, seal it in a small ziploc baggy and carry it around with you to smell throughout the day as needed.
Basil – will help relieve muscle spasm if you are not sleeping well because of muscle pain. It will increase mental clarity and reduce mental fatigue (2nd only to rosemary) and is also uplifting to the spirit. *Avoid if you have epilepsy
Geranium – is a balancing oil. It will help relieve fatigue due to mild depression; it may also help to relieve nervous tension which can tire you out. Geranium will help alleviate fatigue due to hormone imbalance, especially that which is associated with PMS or which occurs during the perimenopausal years. For those with some brain fog, it can clear the mind and be slightly stimulating.
Lemon -will give you energy. It is invigorating, refreshing, generally strengthening to the body. If your fatigue is diminishing your appetite, smelling some lemon oil can help. *If used on body, avoid direct sunlight to the application site for 24 hours.
Nutmeg – helps support exhausted adrenals to give you more energy. With nutmeg, less is more… please use only 1 drop at a time. *Do not use if you have epilepsy. *Do not use if pregnant.
Peppermint – is an incredibly invigorating oil which reduces mental fatigue. If your fatigue or stress is causing some mild depression or anger, carry around some peppermint to smell. If your fatigue is headache based, a couple drops of peppermint at the base of your skull or a drop rubbed into your temples (that’s 1 drop split between both temples) can help get rid of the headache so you can get on with your day. *Use with caution if you have high blood pressure or are pregnant.
Rosemary – the hands down winner when it comes to clearing the mind, stimulating the memory, & reducing mental fatigue. People with restless legs find rosemary particularly helpful to calm them down; but if used on the legs near bedtime you’ll want to mix in an equal amount of either lavender or roman chamomile to counteract its stimulating effects. *Do NOT use if you have epilepsy, high blood pressure, or are pregnant.
Relaxing, helps you fall asleep easier and may help stay asleep longer Diffusing these oils in the bedroom or near you in the last hour before bed is a great way to reap the relaxing, sleep-inducing qualities of these oils. You can also place a few drops on your pillow case or on a tissue inside your pillow case to smell while you sleep (Good quality oils will not stain your pillowcase but sandalwood is a resin and will leave a small stain no matter how high quality the oil is). You can also take a warm bath containing 5 drops of any of these oils mixed with a cup of epsom salt before bed to enhance your sleep experience.
Roman Chamomile – will help you relax so you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer, it will also calm anxiety, reduce muscle tension, and help relieve mild depression. If the pain of inflammation is keeping you awake, Roman chamomile is one of the best oils available. May be applied to the pulse points for greater benefit. *Avoid if you have ragweed allergies.
Lavender – relaxes you so you can fall asleep, it’s also an antidepressant, muscle relaxant, and emotionally balancing. May be applied to the pulse points for greater benefit. *Do not apply to the body if you have low blood pressure.
Sandalwood – is a sedating/relaxing oil and will generally strengthen the body. It’s also an aphrodisiac, so keep that in mind when deciding whether you want to use sandalwood. May be applied to the pulse points if diluted with unscented oil or lotion.
Valerian – will help you fall asleep, some people find it helpful in staying asleep as well. May be applied to the pulse points for greater benefit.
Useful to diffuse for colds, and other respiratory illnesses that are tiring you out (in conjunction, of course, with any medication prescribed by your doctor)
Basil, marjoram, pine, rosemary, thyme
Essential oils will only be of limited help if your fatigue is from allergies, depression, swings in blood sugar, infection, or chronic illness such as chronic fatigue syndrome. So please, make sure to get checked by your doctor if you think you may have one of these conditions.
To learn more about fatigue in general, read The Many Faces of Fatigue in the February issue of my newsletter, New Yew News.