The Secret Life of Lavender

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It's 3am and you're awake again. Not drowsy, not sleepy-eyed, not temporarily. No, you're wide awake. As if it were 3 in the afternoon. You don't know why you're awake, how you awoke, or what disturbed you, but somebody might as well be banging a drum next to your head for all the chance you've got of getting back to sleep.

Here we go again.

Insomnia is a real threat. Statistics seem to indicate that people today sleep 20% less than they did 100 years ago, more than 30% of the population suffers from consistent and prolonged insomnia, and it's estimated that about half of us regularly lose sleep due to anxiety or stress.

Some attribute these new patterns to our modern lifestyle, some to the increase in light pollution, others to constantly staring into reflective, backlit glass from phones, computers, and TV screens.

Whatever the reason, it seems clear that as pressures increase, the amount of time we sleep, decreases. The problem with this is that the whole thing is a Cache 22: we get anxious or stressed and our sleep is affected, then as our sleep is affected, we get anxious or stressed about being tired. Rinse and repeat.

Historically, GPs would prescribe sleeping pills in an effort to short circuit the cycle and allow patients to get the sleep they required. The problem is twofold: take them for too long and you have a significant chance of becoming dependent or even addicted, and secondarily, the minute you stop taking them, in the majority of cases, your sleep pattern slips back to whatever it was before you started the course.

An unlikely antidote
Back in August 2017, swathes of people were claiming that they'd come across a 'magic' formula for not only getting to sleep but also to calm them down throughout the day, reducing anxiety and stress.

Countless media outlets reported that Lush's 'Sleepy' Body Lotion was the panacea they'd been looking for all these years. Unlikely, right? I mean, how could a high street brand have cracked the enigma that is anxiety and sleepless nights? Well, it turns out the reason wasn't quite as 'magic' as first thought. Rather, the active ingredient, lavender flower, was the reason behind all the hype.

There was a frenzy, and people were queuing up to buy the product. Since then, the attention has wained, but the principle still applies: lavender flower has the potential to change the sleep patterns of human beings. And what's more, it's backed by medical science.

Well, actually it can. The National Sleep Foundation says that lavender is proven to not only increase sleep quality, but calm the mind.

If their claim isn't enough, then Robert Tisserand, an expert in aromatherapy and essential oil research, has this to say:

"…Roughly 75 to 80 per cent of people claim that lavender improves sleep quality, shortens the time it takes users to fall asleep and promotes relaxation. It doesn’t work like a sedative, but it does something to change the dynamics of our mental and emotional state to help us sleep better. When you inhale a scent, it has an effect on you whether you like it or not. Part of that is due to its absorption in the brain,” Tisserand says. “When you inhale something, it goes into the nasal cavity, triggers the nerve endings and is absorbed through the skull.”

In other words, unlike a sedative, the scent literally soaks into your brain, and dependent on what that scent is, it can have a transformative impact on the human mind.

Here at Ashby Aromatherapy, we are a huge believer in the calming effects of lavender, in whatever form it takes. We advise using it not only to get to sleep but to help calm your nerves, perhaps before a big client meeting, a presentation to your boss, or even if you're a nervous driver and could benefit from reducing your anxiety behind the wheel.

Feel free to chat with us about the benefits of lavender, or you can check out our lavender-based products yourself.

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