Lavender and the History of “Sweet” Dreams

Sleeping well involves many factors, including the comfort of a bed and the temperature of the room and the lighting. Just one factor may be the aromas that surround us as we fall asleep. One of the essential oils used in making the Nufabrx pillow is lavender. This delightful fragrance has a long history of lifting moods and promoting health.

You can read some of the 2,500 year history of people using lavender here. Part of that history is people valuing lavender for helping them calm themselves and sleep better. Cultures from India to China and Egypt valued fragrances for health. No one knows exactly what element of the chemistry of lavender might have this influence. Scientific research continues on treating patients in hospitals with lavender to help them sleep or to calm anxiety. Aromatherapy is part of what is called the “complementary and alternative” medicine movement.

One theory about how lavender may work comes from a health website at the National Institutes of Health. The theory is that the aroma of lavender may send chemical messages to the parts of the human brain that regulate mood and anxiety.

Our noses have what are called smell receptors and these respond to lavender and other “essential oils.” The receptors send chemical messages. Part of the theory is that these messages are read by nerves. The nerves are part of the brain’s system known as the limbic system, which regulates our moods and emotions.

But nobody needs a laboratory or a white coat to decide whether they enjoy the fragrance of lavender. For many people their reaction is an instant “ahhh.”

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