Vetiver Oil: A Grass Roots Therapy For Better Sleep

One of my most consistent problems with sleeplessness is that I can be totally exhausted, but still unable to actually drop off to sleep. 

That’s mostly because of my fibromyalgia, but it is complicated by back pain on those nights when my pain relief medication fails to cut the mustard, as it sometimes does. 

Because I know from past experience that prescription sleeping medication causes my whole system to lag, and because of the strong pain killers I need to take for my back as well as my fibro, I feel very strongly about not having those other drugs in my regime. 

So, I recently visited my friendly local alternative health practitioner and asked, “What can you suggest to help me sleep?”

She suggested Vetiver Oil, diluted in fractionated coconut oil. The instructions say to apply it under both big toes and to the wrists, to inhale deeply on going to bed, and to reapply on waking through the night. 

Extracted from the roots of vetiver grass, vetiver oil is useful for calming emotions and relaxing the body.

The first night, I did doze off more easily. I also smelt like I was sleeping in the very damp leaf litter on the floor of a forest that didn’t get enough sunlight. Inhaling it deeply wasn’t anything I needed to do consciously — that was unavoidable! It is not an offensive smell, but it is distinctive and perhaps a little strong. 

On the second night I decidedto just go with it under the big toes, and I added a dab or two on the inside of my ankles instead of my wrists – I figured the circulation is near the skin there, too, and I wouldn’t find the smell so strong there. I found that it still helped me to drift off and the smell of the oil was not so pervasive. 

On the third night, I followed the same routine as the previous night. I also used some lemongrass oil on my fingers and hands for pain management, as I often do through the day. It wasn’t my intention, but I found the lemongrass balanced and lightened the vetiver quite effectively. That was a happy accident! 

I have been following that routine for a couple of weeks now, and while I still don’t fall asleep quickly, I have observed that drifting off is gentler and generally doesn’t take as long as it has done in the past. 

Having experienced difficulty falling asleep for as long as I can remember – even before the onset of fibromyalgia, it’s fir to say that any improvement is welcome. 

How can insomnia be a good thing?

This post struck a chord with me. I hate my insomnia, but because of it, I have written some incredible poetry at 3am.

I do try to manage it, and to practise good sleep hygiene, but sometimes my pain levels and my brain conspire against me.

On those night when I am not able to write, I find listening to talkback radio, a podcast or an audiobook helps me to relax and and least rest while I am awake.

I’d love to know what works for you.

Painsomnia and sleep deprivation

The term ‘painsomnia’ is perfect for describing the impact of chronic pain on the sleep patterns of those who live with conditions like Fibromyalgia.

This post touches on so many aspects of my life with both Fibromyalgia and back pain.

I’m thankful to The Brainless Blogger for writing so clearly and honestly what many people struggle to explain.

If someone you know has a chronic pain condition, you need to read this and share it with everyone you know.

Brainless Blogger

So I’m going to start with this tidbit: The brain literally starts eating itself when it doesn’t get enough sleep.

AHHHhhhhhh!!!!!!! My brain is EATING itself. WTAF!

Not cool.

Painsomnia and sleep deprivation

Other issues with sleep deprivation can include:

  1. Impacts short-term and long-term memory
  2. Concentration becomes impaired along with problem-solving abilities and even creativity
  3. Mood instability- obviously lack of sleep can make a person cranky as all hell. But long term it can be comorbid with anxiety and depression and make depression more intense
  4. Less than 5 hours a night can cause your blood pressure to increase
  5. It increases your risk for Type 2 Diabetes
  6. It increases the risk of heart disease
  7. It can lead to poor balance and increase the likelihood of falls
  8. Affects immune system and it may take you longer to recover from illness
  9. Increases the chances of obesity (source: Healthline)

And if that were not enough there is…

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Best Essential Oils for Sleep

There are people in this world who are able to get into bed, lie down, take a deep breath, and fall asleep right away.

I kid you not.
I know this, because my husband is one of them.

I can lie there practising every relaxation and breathing technique I know, and it doesn’t happen. Sometimes I can lie there for hours before I finally drop off. This is what I have come to consider “normal”.

Even if I don’t fall asleep as quickly or easily as I would like, I have found that essential oils can be very helpful with relaxation and restfulness.

This very handy post by Alisson at The Sustainable Mess blog outlines which ones are generally the most useful.

Sustainable Fashion & Lifestyle Blog

Aromatherapy is a holistic healing treatment that uses natural plant extracts to promote health and well-being. Aromatherapy uses essential oils extracted from plants to improve the health of the body, mind, and spirit. It enhances both physical and emotional health. Essential oils can be used for a variety of purposes, from boosting mood to relieving migraines. In this article, I listed out the best oils that can be used to feel calm, relax and help you sleep.

BEFORE YOU BEGIN
Before getting started, there are a few basics to remember when working with essential oils:

  • When applying oils topically, always use a carrier oil. These are oils used to dilute essential oils, like coconut, argan oil or jojoba oil.
  • Always do a patch test before applying anything to larger areas of your skin.
  • Make sure you only ingest essential oils that are meant to be eaten.
  • Buy “pure” essential oils. There…

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You Know You’re Tired When…

After teaching yesterday and then spending the night at school supervising the antics of my graduating Year 12 students, I have entered my 29th consecutive hour of being at work and awake.

I just spent two minutes wondering why I couldn’t correct a randomly occurring capital letter in an email I had already sent.

I have also just realised that there is no way to scull a Barista Bros Iced Coffee in front of 20 Year 9/10 students without looking needy.  Upon this epiphany, I reverted to sipping it in a casual coffee-house-with-minimalist-art-on-the-walls kind of way.

I need to go home.