Is there such a thing as the "scent of sleep"? I think there might be! The olfactory nerve gives us our sense of smell and starts from our nose and enters the skull through tiny holes that connect directly to the brain. This nerve rapidly sends signals to many different parts of the brain, including the limbic system and amygdala, which are in charge of emotions, mood, and memory.
These fascinating systems can do many things from triggering a fight-or-flight response to turning on the parasympathetic nervous system, which relaxes our bodies. This is why scents can so quickly trigger physical reactions in our bodies and have long-lasting effects after the aromatic trail vanishes.
A better headspace.
Aromatherapy isn't new, but the complementary and alternative medicine practice that taps into the healing power of scents from essential oils extracted from plants balance your mind, body, and spirit. "In essence, it's a form of herbal medicine," says Amy Galper, founder of the New York Institute of Aromatherapy. And what's more, according to a study, sleep-deprived people appear less healthy, less attractive, and more tired compared with when they are well-rested.
Sometimes sleeping just doesn't cut it. I mean, yes, that's when our bodies go into the repair and recuperate mode. But when you're really tired, overworked, or have a lot going on emotionally, it never hurts to have a little help and TLC for your skin. Plus, a cream when you're 100 miles deep in a dream about (insert whatever you want here) is magic. I get excited about this DIY concoction I make because it's lightweight, soothes the skin, and has you glowing by morning. For deep skin nourishment, this ain't your man, but a generous dollop massaged into your body (and I do my face, too) honestly makes your skin feel plumper and cons it into feeling like it went to bed before midnight.
What happens to our skin at night?
Quite a lot, actually. Apart from recovering and regenerating from the day, when we sleep, the brain produces a brilliant chemical called adenosine triphosphate, or ATP for short. It's essentially our cell battery power and runs all of our cellular processes throughout the day.
At night the skin relaxes because it's not under any stress. "Your skin cells go into regeneration mode, replacing damaged or dead cells with new ones," says Osmia Organics founder Dr. Sarah Villafranco. "Cortisol levels (the hormone linked to stress) fall at night and levels of growth hormone rise. Cortisol hampers the production of collagen, so when cortisol falls, we make new collagen, the protein that keeps skin strong and elastic."
So what's a girl to do when she needs to get a good night's sleep, look after her skin, and smell good while doing it? DIY, baby! Play around with my magic cream that's infused with luscious oils and use this acupressure technique, which also balances your hormones! And zzzzz...
A DIY cream for better dreams.
The oils I've chosen are relaxing and sedative when used in low doses, but too much, and they become a stimulant, so bear that in mind if you're feeling trigger happy and surprised at the seemingly low total of 8 drops. As I've mentioned before, essential oils are potent workhorses containing the very essence of the plant from which they come. Less is most definitely more when making your own formulas.
Clary Sage: This herbaceous oil has a calming and sedating effect on the nervous system. It also has a profoundly balancing effect on hormones and can help regulate the stress hormone cortisol.
Vetiver: This beautiful oil is rich, earthy smelling, and my go-to when I need to help my brain "shut off" for the night. It's brilliant for overstimulation, too.
Valerian: Unbelievably calming to the nervous system and great for those of you who get restless and irritable around bedtime.
Lavender: Every home should have a giant bottle of lavender oil nestled inside its cupboards. Probably the most versatile of all essential oils, a mere whiff is calming, relaxing, and balancing not only physically but emotionally, too, especially if you're having anxious feelings.
- 3 drops clary sage
- 2 drops vetiver
- 1 drop valerian
- 2 drops lavender
- ½ cup coconut oil
- 4-ounce Mason jelly jar
- Whip the coconut oil in a mixer (or with fork if you want to get your arm workout in for the day).
- Add oils and mix together.
- That's it. Easy-peasy.
- Rub a little of the cream wherever you want before bed to help you relax and rest easy.