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Can't sleep? These scents can help

Try these sleep-inducing essential oils for healthy sleep (and better skin)!

Sleep is crucial to our skin's ability to repair and regenerate. But what do you do when you just can't relax? It may sound surprising - but calming scents can make a big difference! Certain scents have the ability to calm our nervous system and help us fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.

And here's how it works: When we inhale, odor molecules attach themselves to neurons in our nasal passages that send impulses to the olfactory bulb in the brain. The olfactory bulb is connected to two areas responsible for emotions and memory: The amygdala and the hippocampus. (Interestingly, the amygdala and hippocampus do not deal with any of the five senses except smell, which probably explains the strong connection of smell to our emotions.)

All of this takes place in the brain's limbic system, which influences the nervous system, which must relax before we can do so. Three essential oils known to improve sleep and even make for happier dreams have a relaxing effect. You can use an aromatherapy diffuser to diffuse the oils around the room, dilute them and dab them on the back of your neck or pillowcase, or use the new Sound Sleep Cocoon™ from Dermalogica, which contains motion-activated essential oils that are gradually released as you toss and turn to help you get a restful night's sleep.

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In one study, participants who slept in rooms scented with lavender rated their sleep 20% better than participants who slept in rooms scented with sweet almond oil. Folklore has it that lavender-filled pillows help insomniacs sleep better. Take a cue from these books and give this floral favorite a try.

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Popularized in the 1960s, patchouli now has a new following: those who swear it's a natural sleep aid. Patchouli's natural chemicals boost the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which are known to relieve anxiety and stress, as well as hormones that regulate the sleep cycle. Its calming effects can also keep you from waking up during the night.

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The rich, long-lasting scent of the sandalwood tree is very popular and can be found in perfumes, soaps, and aromas. The anxiety-relieving properties of sandalwood oil make it an effective sleep aid, with an added bonus: its aroma relaxes tense muscles and gives you one less reason to toss and turn.

Sound Sleep Cocoon is a revitalizing gel-cream that transforms skin overnight by optimizing nighttime skin regeneration.

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