Good Scents

As I get older, I find it harder to get a good night’s sleep. I know I function better on seven (or more) hours of uninterrupted sleep, but it’s elusive. Night sweats wake me or the furry friends purr too loudly or hog the bed. I used to sleep through that. Caffeine also bothers me more. I can’t have any after 5 p.m., or I’ll fall asleep but wake shortly after. I can’t fall back to sleep as easily as I once did. 

I follow a nighttime regime of turning off screens—no computer, phone or tablet as studies show the light interferes with sleep—and take a book to bed. Heaven knows I’m tired enough when my head hits the pillow. I don’t want to take a sleep aid. Some are addictive or habit forming, while others, like an antihistamine that knocks you out, may interfere with brain function if used long term.

What’s a safe alternative? I’m using lavender essential oil. Research shows that the smell of this herb with the little purple flowers can help slow the brainwaves and allow a deeper, more restful sleep.

I mist the pillowcases with a lavender spray before bed—they dry while I read, leaving a nice, light scent. I’ve also bought lavender in the essential-oil formula and put it on a cotton ball alongside my bed. The fragrance is a little stronger. Lavender in many forms can be purchased inexpensively at a pharmacy or health food store. I’ve even seen lavender added to fabric softeners.

If you have asthma, you won’t want to use any essential oils without checking with a health care professional, and lavender is not to be ingested or applied topically. The sweet scent seems to be working for me; see you in the morning.