Sleep apnea is a condition that affects 22 million Americans, with 80 percent of cases undiagnosed. The symptoms of sleep apnea can leave you feeling run down and sleepy during the daytime. In this article, we will find a guide to 17 essential oils and blends for sleep apnea.
Recent research has pointed to the value of essential oils for sleep apnea, so in this article, we are going to explore some essential oils which can help with some of the side effects of sleep apnea, such as snoring, through to nervous insomnia. We will learn about the best oils to help revive, restore and improve wellbeing.
We will also look at why and how essential oils help with sleep apnea.
Let’s start with a list of my favorite oils to help clear airways, relax muscles, and aid restorative sleep not only for those suffering from sleep apnea but also for partners and family who are living with it too.
- Lavender Oil
- Eucalyptus Oil
- Ravensara oil
- Rosemary oil
- Peppermint Oil
- Fennel oil
- Roman Chamomile Oil
- Thyme Oil
- Valerian Oil
- Lemon Oil
- Marjoram Oil
- Geranium Oil
- Olive Oil
- Pine Oil
- Bergamot Oil
- Cedarwood Oil
- Ylang ylang Oil
How do essential oils help with sleep apnea?
Essential oils directly reach the brain when traveling from the olfactory nerves. As you inhale, the scent within the molecules most especially hits the amygdala, which is the part of the brain that drives the ‘fight or flight response.
This part of the brain is stimulated by essential oils for sleep apnea and is often associated with the body’s fear and stress responses.
So essential oils such as lavender can help with sleep apnea by inducing feelings of calm and relaxation which aids better and more restful sleep.
The oils which have properties to clear stuffiness or help in keeping airways clear have certain properties which can be antiviral and antioxidant.
For instance, eucalyptus, rosemary, and mint all contain 1,8-cineole, which may help to fight infections and also help with respiratory problems.
As a recent study explains
“Because of volatility, essential oils can easily reach the upper and lower parts of the respiratory tract via inhalation and due to their antimicrobial and anti‐inflammatory potency, they offer an effective treatment in respiratory tract infections (RTIs).”
Essential oils are, in fact, an effective way to treat many different sleep disorders and complaints. For instance, lavender is useful for easing insomnia symptoms and anxiety, allowing the body to get proper rest.
To find out how lavender blends with the delicate floral ylang ylang, head over to discover more!
Certain essential oils’ chemical compounds and the way they react to the body have a significant effect on the body’s sleeping ability.
While some oils help energize and promote focus, other oils are successful in easing breathing and nerves and helping the body relax in preparation for rest, which is important for sufferers of sleep apnea.
How to use essential oils for sleep apnea
There are several ways to use essential oils for sleep apnea.
You can apply topically or diffuse before bed. You can also inhale the vapors of these oils by steaming them using hot water.
- Sleep apnea electronic diffuser blend add 6 – 10 drops into 100 mL of water in an electronic diffuser into the air, place the diffuser close to your bed and set it to run for an hour if you have a timed diffuser or if not, place next to your bed and run for half an hour before settling into bed. My choice would be a blend of 3 drops bergamot, 4 drops peppermint, and 3 ylang ylang
- Vaporize: Add essential oils for sleep apnea to a bowl of hot water ( not boiling, but hot enough to create steam) pop a towel over your head and the bowl, and breathe in deeply for 10 minutes. Peppermint and eucalyptus oil are perfect for this. Add 3 drops for each 150mL of water
- Sleep apnea essential oil bath add 3 -5 drops to a carrier oil ( Jojoba is lovely, but any oil including olive or sunflower) mix together in a small glass jar or saucer, then add to your bath with the faucet running.
- Sleep apnea essential oil gargle add 2 drops of your chosen oil for each quarter cup of water and gargle for 30 to 60 seconds. Peppermint, spearmint, Myrrh, or tea tree are perfect as they will also leave your breath smelling fresh too!
- Sleep apnea massage add 3 – 5 drops essential oil to a moisturizing carrier oil such as sweet almond, avocado or coconut, or olive oil and massage into your skin, paying particular attention to temples, forehead, neck, and chest/throat areas
- Feet add a few drops of diluted essential oil to the bottoms of your feet. Peppermint or eucalyptus
Let’s take a look at how some of my favorite 17 essential oils for sleep apnea can individually help to ease some of the worries, and symptoms of sleep apnea! Enjoy17 sleep apnea essential oil blends for diffusers, massage, pillow sprays, gargle, and vaporization.
Lavender is well-known for its therapeutic benefits that work effectively for a good night’s sleep and relax, soothe and calm some of the symptoms of sleep apnea.
The ability of lavender essential oils to clear the airways also benefits sleep apnea.
lavender oils properties including, anxiolytic, mood stabilizer, sedative, and analgesic properties can help to create a better sleep apnea environment for not only the sufferer, but also their partners.
The best way to apply lavender oil for sleep apnea is to massage, diffuse or vaporize before bed.
Lavender and tea tree blend perfectly to help clear airways and loosen congestion, so head over to find out lots more blends with these powerful oils.
Lavender sleep apnea massage blend sleep boosting oils!
- 6 drops lavender oil
- 3 drops Roman chamomile oil
- 2 tablespoons of your favorite carrier oil such as sweet almond or olive oil
Mix the contents thoroughly in a small glass jar or a saucer and apply with fingertips to the neck, and chest area. This blend is also perfect for a foot massage.
Eucalyptus oil is the no.1 essential oil for sleep apnea. Its ability to clear mucus and irritation, ease congestion along with its first-rate clearing properties means it’s the perfect oil to help with sleep apnea.
It clears airways for more restful breathing and helps to ease inflammation and eases many of the common synonyms of sleep apnea. Similar to peppermint oil this oil has anti-inflammatory properties. Aside from sleep apnea, it also helps with flu and cold congestion
Eucalyptus oil has a very strong fragrance, so a little can go a long way. By adding a carrier oil you can reduce the potency of using it as a massage blend.
However, my top tip for how to use eucalyptus essential oil for sleep apnea is inhaling either in a diffuser or by steam vaporizing.
Eucalyptus oil sleep apnea vaporizing blend
- 5 drops of eucalyptus oil
- 5 drops peppermint oil
- 5 drops tea tree oil
- Add to a 2-liter bowl of steaming water from a kettle
Place the bowl on a stable flat surface, with a towel underneath if wooden, pop a medium towel over your head and inhale the vapors.
When you are finished, add 150mL of the blend into a diffuser and switch on half an hour before bed or set the timer for 1 hour, half an hour before settling down to sleep.
Eucalyptus is one of the best oils for helping to soothe and clear airways, head over to my other helpful article to discover some comforting eucalyptus diffuser blends
Ravensara essential oil has deeply powerful antiseptic, clearing, and stimulating properties, which make it an ideal essential oil for sleep apnea, along with the winter cold and flu season.
It works really well as a Bath/diffuser/vaporizer blend.
Ravansara oil smells very similar to eucalyptus and may come a close second only to tee tea in its natural antiseptic qualities.
Ravansara essential oil blends beautifully with other oils which can help ease the symptoms of sleep apnea such as peppermint, rosemary, marjoram, tea tree, eucalyptus, and lavender.
Ravensara oil sleep apnea vaporizing blend
- 4 drops ravensara oil
- 3 drops peppermint oil
- 3 drops lavender oil
- 150 mL distilled water ( boiled and cooled from a kettle)
As we found out earlier, Rosemary contains 1,8-cineole, which has bronchiolitis, and anti-inflammatory properties, to help with some of the symptoms of sleep apnea.
Rosemary has a fresh uplifting aroma that can help to relieve the symptoms of blocked airways if you suffer from sleep apnea and is also known to help relieve swollen sinuses.
Rosemary oil sleep apnea massage blend
- 3 drops Rosemary oil
- 3 drops chamomile oil
- 2 drops Thyme oil
- 2 tablespoon of moisturizing carrier oil such as apricot kernel oil, which is easily absorbed by the skin. If you don’t have apricot oil, then sunflower or olive oil is a good substitute
Congestion is a common occurrence among sleep apnea patients. This congestion also causes irritation and annoyance in the nasal passage.
Peppermint oil is well-known for its anti-inflammatory properties that benefit this uneasiness related to sleep apnea.
Also, the cooling aroma of peppermint oil goes a long way in relaxing your airways, easing your breath.
You can use peppermint oil in three ways.
- Massage a drop under each nostril before bedtime
- Add a drop of peppermint oil into hot water and inhale the vapors from the steam
- Add a drop or two into a glass of water and gargle before bedtime
Due to the volatile compounds in fennel, including flavonoids, phenolic compounds, fatty acids, and amino acids, research has proven that fennel has a wealth of antimicrobial properties, along with astringent qualities which can help with stuffiness or blocked airways that often occur in sleep apnea.
It can be successfully used to reduce inflammation in the nose and throat and improve the flow of air through their nasal passageways.
Fennel oil sleep apnea foot massage blend
- 5 drops fennel oil
- 2 drops lavender oil
- 1 drop of Roman Chamomile oil
- 2 tablespoons of coconut, sunflower, or your favorite carrier oil
Mix all oils together in a screw-top jar or a saucer. Apply to palms and thoroughly massage the foot area paying special attention to toes and heels. The perfect time is around half an hour before bed
Roman Chamomile Oil
Roman chamomile oil is known for its relaxant properties. These relaxing effects promote restful sleep among sleep apnea patients and those who are in bed with them.
This oil effectively aids the central nervous system and it’s this that makes it one of the best oils for central sleep apnea (CSA).
Central sleep apnea is a condition where the brain doesn’t send the right signals to the body. This makes it difficult to keep the body properly breathing while you sleep.
Roman chamomile sleep apnea pillow spray
- 8 drops Roman chamomile oil
- 3 drops lavender oil
- 3 drops eucalyptus oil
- 4oz spray bottle filled with distilled water boiled and cooled from a kettle
Add all ingredients to the spray bottle and shake well. Spray in the area above your bed and on the pillows ½ hour before bed
Don’t forget to check out my other helpful article 21 best oils and 21 blends for relaxation, to help those with sleep apnea and also their partners.
Thyme oil is an essential oil for sleep apnea and works by clearing pathways and by soothing the cerebral cortex of the brain. As a result, some of the symptoms of sleep apnea, such as sleep disruptions and breathing difficulties are eased.
Thyme oil has antifungal and antiparasitic properties, which help to keep airways free from inflammation and aid a sound breathing pattern while sleeping.
Thyme oil sleep apnea diffuser blend
- 5 drops thyme oil
- 5 drops lemon oil
- 3 drops ravensara or eucalyptus oil
- 150mL of distilled water ( boiled and cooled from a kettle)
Set your diffuser on a 1 hour timer when you settle down to sleep or run next to your bed for ½ hour before your usual sleep time
Thyme oil has a strong fragrance, so you may have to dilute it with a carrier oil when you apply it topically. It best works well when diffused by your bed too.
Valerian oil promotes healthy sleeping patterns. For example, it reduces anxiety helping you to fall asleep quicker and stay asleep longer. Like many other essential oils, you can either apply it or diffuse it to help with sleep conditions such as sleep apnea.
Valerian root has been used for centuries to help calm frazzled nerves and relax for a good night’s sleep which can often be disrupted by sleep apnea, for both the sufferer and partners.
Several different species of Valeriana ( valerian root) have been used for sedation and sleep in many different cultures throughout the world, and several studies have shown that components of valerian inhibit the breakdown of gamma-aminobutyric acid in the brain to induce sedation and a decrease in central nervous system activity.
Valerian sleep apnea pillow spray blend
- 6 drops valerian oil
- 4 drops lavender oil
- 4 drops Roman chamomile oil
- 4 oz amber spray bottle filled with distilled water from a boiled and cooled kettle
This citrusy essential oil in lemon oil can help reduce the snoring frequency and intensity associated with sleep apnea.
The antispasmodic properties of this oil moisturize the nasal passages and help to clear any infections.
This aids your airways for a steady and healthy breathing pattern with minimal disruptions while you’re asleep.
Lemon oil makes a perfect massage oil by blending lemon essential oil with lavender, thyme, and peppermint oil.
For more information on lemon oil properties, blends, and more check out my helpful blog
Lemon oil sleep apnea massage oil
- 3 drops lemon oil
- 3 drops lavender
- 3 drops thyme oil
- 2 tablespoons of olive or avocado carrier oil
Blend all ingredients in a screw-top jar or saucer and using palms massage gently the temples, throat, and chest area
Lemon essential oil is also perfect as a gargle before bed for sufferers of sleep apnea.
Lemon oil sleep apnea gargle oil blend
Dilute a couple of drops of lemon essential oil in a glass of water and gargle with it before sleeping. This can be a great way to maximize the benefits of lemon essential oil for sleep apnea.
Marjoram oil has shown to be effective and successful in treating sleep apnea and related symptoms. This oil is warm and comforting along with sedative properties, which soothes your mind and body to fall asleep quicker and stay asleep for longer.
The calming properties in specific, help you to get into a deep, restorative state of sleep with fewer disruptions.
its ability to calm nerves while relaxing muscles promotes a healthy respiratory function makes this an excellent oil for sleep apnea.
This in turn also keeps breathing disruptions related to sleep apnea minimal. Apply it to the soles of the feet and the underside of your toes. You can also diffuse it by your bed before sleep.
Marjoram Oil sleep apnea foot massage blend
- 6 – 8 drops marjoram oil
- 2 tablespoons of coconut, Jojoba, or sunflower oil
Blend all ingredients in a saucer or screw-top jar, apply with palms, and gently massage feet with slow circular movements, moving from the top of the foot down to the toes. Pay special attention to the soles of the feet.
Geranium essential oil is another relaxant, very similar in properties to lavender oil. It can help ease both nerves, help sleep apnea sufferers and their partners relax and aid a calmer sleep.
Geranium has a beautiful aroma which can help to bring a positive feeling to bedtimes and help those with sleep apnea to unwind.
The best way to use geranium oil is to apply a few drops into a carrier oil and apply it to the neck, chest, and feet area.
Geranium oil sleep apnea massage blend
- 6 drops geranium oil
- 2 drops rosewood oil
- 2 tablespoons of sweet almond, or apricot kernel oil ( if you don’t have either of these oils, olive oil is a good substitute)
Geranium oil is one of my absolute favorite oils and has so many different ways to harness its power! pop over and find out my favorite Geranium diffuser blends and recipes to help calm, soothe and relax.
Olive essential oil is another effective aid for sleep apnea. This essential oil actually works as a lubricant, moisturizing those soft tissues in the back of your throat that can cause blockage or discomfort while breathing.
Olive oil is safe to eat so taking a few drops orally before bed can be helpful in relieving symptoms of Sleep apnea.
Olive oil for sleep apnea
Add 3 drops of olive oil to a plain oat biscuit and take with a small drink of warm milk before bed.
Pine oil is derived from pine needles. pine oil has both antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. Conifer oils like pine, spruce, and fir contain pinene, a chemical compound with well-documented antibacterial properties. This helps to clear and support the throat and lungs while cutting down harmful bacteria in the air. Alongside giving a calming, earthy ‘outdoor’ aroma to relax those with sleep apnea.
It can be used in massage, a diffuser, and also a room spray to bring the outdoors in and help to promote restful sleep and counteract some of the symptoms of sleep apnea.
For anyone new to using diffusers or if you are thinking about trying one to help with the symptoms of sleep apnea, Read here for more helpful information on how to use a diffuser, drops, sizes, types, and more!
Pine oil sleep apnea room spray
- 4 drops pine oil
- 3 drops spruce oil
- 2 drops fir oil
- 2 drops nutmeg oil
- 4 oz amber spray bottle filled with distilled water, boiled and cooled from a kettle
Bergamot oil can lower your heart rate and blood pressure and help with anxiety and stress, allowing you to get to sleep.
Cedarwood has a woodsy smell that can help reduce anxiety and relax muscles. It can help to clear blockages in the nose and throat while helping those with sleep apnea to relax with its outdoor forest aroma. Cedarwood can help clear blocked airways and help you enter a state of relaxation helpful to sleep.
Cedarwood sleep apnea diffuser blend
- 8 -10 drops cedarwood oil
- 4 drops eucalyptus oil
- 3 drops cinnamon oil
- 150mL distilled water from a boiled and cooled kettle
Set your diffuser for an hour timer or longer if you have multiple settings and start the program half an hour before bed. If your diffuser doesn’t have a timer, then run for an hour, relaxing as closely as you can to the diffuser for the last half an hour.
Ylang-ylang oil is an essential oil for sleep apnea and has been used for centuries as a sedative. It has calming, relaxing effects, perfect to help some of the symptoms of sleep apnea.
This is an essential oil with many benefits to diffuse before bedtime to help the patient and also their partner relaxes and feel calm.
Ylang-ylang’s beautiful floral scent is often used in perfumes and other beauty products and can induce restful feelings and lift the mood ready for a restorative night’s sleep.
Ylang-ylang sleep apnea massage oil blend
- 5 drops ylang ylang oil
- 3 drops lavender oil
- 2 tablespoons of jojoba, avocado, or other moisturizing oil
Blend all ingredients in a small screw-top jar or a saucer and using the fingers, massage gently around the temples, throat, and chest area. This is a perfect massage oil for couples to share with both patient and partner.
Ok so now we know how to use essential oils to keep you calm, your airways clear and help to relax both those with sleep apnea and their partners, you might be wondering what other kind of help you can get to manage your sleep apnea.
Are there any products I can buy to help with sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea monitors record oxygen levels and other data while you sleep.
The best types slip over your finger with a rubber ring that vibrates to gently wake you if your SpO2 drops below your threshold. Data also checks the performance of your CPAP machine which can then be shared with your doctor.
I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing how essential oils can help with relaxation for both sufferers of sleep apnea and their partners along with oils designed to help clear airways and aid restful and restorative sleep.
It’s important to understand that essential oils should not be used exclusively as a treatment for sleep, or in addition to therapy that has been prescribed by your doctor.
If you think you may have sleep apnea you can contact your doctor and request a sleep study.
Always be sure to seek advice from your healthcare professional before beginning any kind of treatment on your own.
For more helpful essential oil information don’t forget to check out my essential oil guides including 21 best oils for relaxation, can you use any oil in a diffuser? Do your favorite essential oils go off? And more!
This content has been checked and verified by a medical professional or aromatherapist The article has been reviewed by our editorial board and has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policy.