I used to be able to sleep through anything and everything. I could fall asleep almost anywhere. But as I’ve gotten older, I’m starting to notice that sleep doesn’t come as easily anymore. That’s normal. Not only are your worries and responsibilities usually more taxing on your stress levels as you get older, but there is also a physiological explanation for the lack of sleep—as you get older, your body slows its production of melatonin, which is the hormone that helps regulate your sleep cycles.
Before I was pregnant, I would often taken melatonin supplements before bed, and it worked beautifully for me! But like many natural remedies and supplements, over-the-counter melatonin has not been well-tested on pregnant or breastfeeding women, and so it’s recommended that those of us with child skip the melatonin for the duration of pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Sleep has become even more difficult for me during pregnancy. Insomnia is a very common side effect of pregnancy, not just because you are uncomfortable and worrying about how you’re going to pay for college in 18 years, but also because the cocktail of hormones running through your body actually makes sleep more difficult. Of course, I can’t control my hormone levels, but what I can do is control my sleep environment. And I’ve noticed a huge change in my quality of sleep if I set myself up for success. I splurged on nice sheets, blankets and pillows for my bed. I keep my bedroom clean and clutter-free. I try to keep my bedroom a “screen-free” zone. And, I use lavender spray.
Lavender is a herb that is widely known to help with nervousness, anxiety, stress and sleeplessness. It doesn’t make you sleepy like taking a sleeping pill would, but what it does do is help take the edge off of sleeplessness. And then my comfy pillows and blankets take me the rest of the way!
To make my linen spray, I use lavender essential oil. Now, a word of warning, while essential oils are all-natural, that doesn’t make them safe to use without caution. You should use extreme caution (and do lots of research!) before using any essential oils—including lavender, which is generally considered one of the “safer” oils. You should make sure to look for high-quality essential oils—that doesn’t necessarily mean more expensive. You should look for 100% pure essential oils (and avoid anything that’s labeled as a “fragrance” or “perfume” oil). Higher quality oils usually list both the common and botanical name of the plant that the oil is derived from (this helps with some oils, where different varieties of the same plant are used for different purposes). Also, don’t necessarily be swayed by a label that says “therapeutic grade”. There is no regulated grading system for essential oils—so anyone can write “therapeutic grade” on their label if they want to. I actually use NOW Foods essential oils for most purposes. They are very affordable, and they are very clear with their labeling—which is not true of all essential oil companies. They do sell some non-100% pure oils, but they are clearly marked on the bottle as blends or synthetic (which I don’t buy). They are also readily available at Whole Foods and at Amazon.
Last bit of warning on essential oils: you should never use essential oils undiluted without the advice of a professional. And it’s a good idea to avoid using any essential oils, even diluted ones, during the first trimester of pregnancy, on small babies and children, or on or near pets. In particular, lavender oil is thought to be a dangerous one for cats.
My linen spray has a very, very light concentration of lavender oil, and even with that high-dilution, I make sure to only use this spray on items that my cat doesn’t frequent. I’d never spray this on the cozy throw blanket that my cat likes to curl up and take naps on. And never, ever apply lavender oil (diluted or undiluted) directly to a cat or it’s fur. And always make sure a cat has lavender-free area it can escape to—i.e. don’t spray this stuff all over your house or use lavender oil in multiple diffusers all around your home. And as always, if you see any sudden changes in behavior in your pets, consult your vet.
The truth is, the number of well-organized studies about essential oils is limited, so a lot of the warnings about essential oils are based entirely on anecdotal evidence. And while lavender essential oil may not affect your cat at all (some folks even recommend combing lavender oil into a cat’s fur to deter fleas), I have no desire to make my pretty little kitty a test case. And I’m not sure I could ever forgive myself if my need for a good-smelling home ended up injuring or killing my kitty. I’d rather be safe than sorry, but please, do your own research.
Okay, wow, that was more than I was planning on writing about essential oils! Anyway, let’s get back to this linen spray. Like I said above, I don’t use it everywhere, but I do like to use it on items that are directly around me during sleep. I spritz it on my sleep mask. I spritz it on my pillow. If I’m taking a shower or bath before bed, I spritz it on my towel and bath robe. If I didn’t have an adorable Kittyface trotting around, I’d probably spritz it on every single blanket and pillow in our house! It smells so good. It’s not overwhelming, and like I said, it doesn’t make you feel sleepy. It’s just a light floral scent that I find so calming.
Even though this post is obnoxiously long, the process to make linen spray is obnoxiously short. It’s so easy! All you need are three ingredients: pure lavender essential oil, a diluter liquid (you can use vodka or witch hazel) and water.
You’ll also need a spray bottle. You can use any old spray bottle you have kicking around, as long as it’s been cleaned well. I like these blue glass spray bottles, because the dark color helps keep UV rays from breaking down essential oils. Plus, I just generally try to keep as much plastic out of the house as possible. Oh, and they’re adorable. I love adorable things.
DIY Lavender Linen Spray
Makes 4 ounces
- Small jar with tight-fitting lid
- 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) witch hazel or vodka
- 10 drops lavender essential oil
- 3 ounces (6 tablespoons) water
- Small funnel
- Spray bottle
- Printable label PDF
- Label sheet, printer and scissors
In the jar, combine the witch hazel or vodka and the lavender essential. Place the lid on tightly and shake well for 15-20 seconds to combine the two. Why? Well, the essential oil won’t distribute into the water on its own, but when diluted in the witch hazel or vodka, it will mix into the water.
Open the lid to the jar, add in the water. Replace the lid, and shake again for 15-20 seconds to combine.
Place the funnel in the opening of the spray bottle. Pour the mixture from the jar into the spray bottle. Replace the spray bottle lid. Because my bottles are two ounces each, I split the mixture between two bottles. One stays by my bed, the other travels with me. This stuff really helps make hotels and guest rooms feel more homey!
Print, cut out and stick the label of your choice to the bottle. If you’re using the smaller bottles like I am, print the labels at 65%. For four-ounce or larger bottles, print at 100%. If you don’t have label sheets kicking around, you can also print the label onto regular paper, and then use clear packing tape to neatly adhere the label to the bottle by using the tape like lamination over the entire label.
Spray on your pillows, sheets, and blankets. Sleep well!