Cedarwood Essential Oil For Sleep During Pregnancy
Written by: Anna Field RN-BC, BSN, RD
Pregnancy and sleep disturbances seem to go hand in hand. It isn’t hard to figure out why: apprehension, uncertainty, worry, physical discomfort, and frequently having to go to the bathroom could all be the culprit. Anyone who has ever been pregnant can agree that not being able to fall asleep, even when your body and mind are exhausted, is a tough trial to walk through.
Luckily, pregnant women have an alley in the plant world and essential oils! Essential oils are compounds extracted from plants: aromatic, volatile liquids obtained from distilling plant roots, seeds, flowers, leaves, trees or entire shrubs. The ability of essential oils to have an effect on both the mind and the body is what makes them truly unique among natural therapeutic substances. (1)
Cedarwood essential oil, steam distilled from the bark of the cedar tree, is a pregnant woman’s secret to getting the recommended eight hours of sleep per night. It is entirely safe for pregnancy.
Cedarwood has been used in religious and spiritual practices for several thousand years. There are numerous scriptural references to cedarwood in the bible. Ancient Tibetans and Egyptians have used it for traditional medicine and incense.
Holding calming and grounding properties, it enhances relaxation and diminishes the cares of the day. It has a low, woodsy scent, warm and comforting.
It has been characterized as warm, comforting, and sedative, thus naturally promoting stress relief. Researchers in Japan measured changes in blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory rate while test subjects inhaled cedrol vapor, the compound in cedarwood essential oil. All were decreased or slowed, indicating that cedarwood activates the parasympathetic nervous system and decreases the sympathetic nervous system. (2) The parasympathetic nervous system is activated when we are in a state of relaxation. The scientific research supporting cedarwood’s ability to induce relaxation through olfactory stimulation is plentiful. (3)
Cedarwood stimulates the limbic region of the brain, which is the center of emotions. The limbic region and its structures affect motivation, learning, emotion, and memory. Cedarwood also stimulates the pineal gland to release melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that helps control daily sleep-wake cycles.
If you are having trouble sleeping during pregnancy, try an aromatherapy treatment of cedarwood essential oil in combination with a meditation session to clear your mind before bed. Cedarwood has balancing qualities that also make it a great meditation tool.
2. Dayawansa, S.et al. (2003) Autonomic responses during inhalation of natural fragrance of Cedrol in humans. Autonomic Neuroscience. Oct 31;108(1-2):79-86. DOI: 10.1016/j.autneu.2003.08.002
3. Matsubara E, Ohira T. Inhalation of Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica) wood odor causes psychological relaxation after monotonous work among female participants. Biomed Res. 2018;39(5):241-249.
4. The limbic system. (2019). Queensland Brain Institute. Retrieved from https://qbi.uq.edu.au/brain/brain-anatomy/limbic-system