Lavender is well-known for its fragrance, but anyone who has used the herb knows it’s much more than a pretty scent. Throughout history, lavender has been used for perfume, washing, and even medicines. It was a staple for mothers from days past, and while no mama could prove it’s uses or benefits, it had a reputation for easing anxiety and giving a better night’s sleep.
Lavender fell out of favor for a little while, but now, new discoveries in sleep behavior, biology, and aromatherapy are showing that lavender is indeed the herb of every mama’s dreams! If you’re daydreaming of your sleepless babe turning into a sleeping angel, take a look at all the ways lavender can help!
Sleep Patterns & Circadian Rhythms
In the center of the brain, there’s a nerve of cells known as the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). It’s located right above the spot where the brain meets the optic nerves of the eyes. This is important because it tunes the SCN to night and day. When the SCN perceives darkness, it cues production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Melatonin production continues on throughout the night until daylight triggers the SCN to stop.
This natural cycle of night and day establishes baby’s circadian rhythm (basically, it’s like a biological schedule for genes, hormones, and things that regulate different behaviors).
Babies are in total darkness in the womb, so their internal clocks slowly develop after birth. That means that sleeping like a baby doesn’t come naturally to a baby. As all mothers know, it can take some time for baby to get into their natural flow. Hence, routine!
Routine a la Lavender
As parents, virtually every article that pops up in our newsfeed has an expert talking about the importance of routine. A little structure really will do wonders with sanity, no doubt, but it goes beyond predictability. Routines with roughly consistent times for naps, meals, and bedtime will help set baby’s natural circadian rhythm and create a biological habit. So, while a warm bath will help babies relax, a nightly bath can actually serve as a circadian cue to baby’s body that it’s time to wind down.
Adding lavender to the bath routine can make this cue even more powerful. The lovely herb has a long reputation for promoting relaxation, calm moods, and better sleep. Science even backs it up! One scientific study showed lavender was as effective against general anxiety disorder as medication. Others show that lavender can alleviate PTSD and postnatal depression.
Lavender & the Emotional Brain
We can all appreciate pleasant smells, but lavender’s ability to calm and soothe isn’t just because of it’s flowery scent. The smell of cookies in the oven; simmering stews; fresh roses. We all have scents that strike a certain chord, and it’s because smell has a powerful tie to memory and emotions.
That’s because the nose has a direct path to the olfactory system, which has a direct connection to the limbic system of the brain. The limbic system performs a variety of important functions, with many of them involving emotions (thus its nickname the “emotional brain”). Naturally, the emotional limbic system is connected to the areas of the brain that regulate blood pressure, hormones, breathing, and so on. We all know that emotions can have an immediate impact on the body. This is important to note, because the connection between the olfactory system and the limbic system means scent can also have an instant snap-effect on emotions. In fact, nostalgia and expectations alone can influence behavior!
Lavender & the Body
The benefits of high-grade lavender products go straight to the nose, but the skin gets them too! Lavender is packed with soothing compounds that heal wounds, soothe allergic reactions, fight infection, and ease eczema. And lavender is so gentle and healing, it’s loved even by sensitive skin! Massaging lavender lotion into baby’s skin allows the body to “drink up” lavender’s powerful compounds through the skin, muscles, and the bloodstream. That means that a rub with lavender lotion can soothe the mind and emotions, while relaxing the body. Massage baby after bath, and the combo of heat and touch will increase circulation and take lavender’s benefits to the max.
Lavender has so many benefits, it’s almost criminal for a parent to go without it. But finding a quality product is as challenging as finding the time to actually use it. The mamas of Earth Mama Angel Baby know all about that. And so, after a night of wine and meaningful herbal conversation — the Sleep Little One gift set was born!
The Calming Lavender Body Wash & Shampoo combines pure essential oil of lavender and vanilla with calming calendula. They’re combined into a castile-based soap that gently cleanses baby’s whole body. But the relaxation doesn’t end there! A post-bath massage with Calming Lavender Baby Lotion will relax baby’s muscles while moisturizing their delicate skin with calming lavender and fragrant vanilla. It even comes with a certified organic Lavender Meringue lip balm to hydrate baby’s (or mom’s) chapped lips. And once baby’s dressed and ready for some sweet-smelling snuggling, they can cuddle with their Lavender Plush Heart for a night of flowery zzz’s.
There’s no better gift than a baby, but the Sleep Little One gift set is the next best thing! Soft skin and sweetly-scented sleep is an absolute dream. For babies and mamas alike!
*This article was part of a collaboration with our advertising partner, Earth Mama Angel Baby.
Latest posts by Ash Stevens (see all)
- 4 Ways To Maximize Your Connection With Your Kids - March 13, 2017
- Babywearing Basics: Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Carriers, Wraps, & Slings - February 8, 2017
- How A Repeal of the Affordable Care Act Could Impact Women and Families - February 3, 2017