“Sleep when the baby sleeps!” Everyone tells you this when you have a newborn, and it probably sounds like good advice to them. Except it’s impossible. And not just because the baby sleeping is the only time you can do the six loads of waiting laundry, or wash your dishes, or eat something, or shower for the first time in three days — it’s also impossible because when you have a new baby, you can’t just relax.
Believe me: No matter how tired I am, I’ve been having trouble falling asleep since my daughter was born more than five months ago. Chalk it up to a racing mind or parental adrenaline, but I’ve tried everything I can think of: wine, reading a book, put-you-to-sleep podcasts, deep-breathing techniques, wine again. Nothing helped until I was sent the Sleep Well aromatherapy stick (full disclosure: My job as a health writer has its perks). I rubbed the mix of lavender, ylang-ylang, and palmarosa on my wrists and neck like the tube suggested. The smell was addictive at first waft — calming and just a little sweet. I wanted more. I started reading in bed, and held my book in one hand and the stick in the other, taking deep breaths of the blend while concentrating on the text. I read for maybe five minutes before falling asleep. I did the same thing the next night, and it knocked me out again. This is good stuff.
The blend is now a crucial part of my nighttime routine. Every night I hit my pulse points and hold it under my nose while I read. I’ve even started spreading it on the bottom of my eye mask so the scent stays with me as long as possible. I now take it with me when I travel. I probably should order a case. (There’s a chamomile version for stress relief and rosemary for focusing, too.) I can’t believe I’m saying this but: It’s better than wine.
More Strat-approved aromatherapy
Strategist editor Alexis Swerdloff takes a whiff of her Tata Harper stress treatment when she’s feeling frazzled: “When I’m sitting at my desk on deadline, furiously responding to emails, toggling through the 29 tabs open on my browser, and balancing a Sweetgreen grain bowl in my elbow, I dab a little bit of it onto my wrists, or onto my neck (it has a roll-on applicator), and take a deep breath. Suddenly, I’m someone in an Architectural Digest spread wearing a long camel-colored cashmere cardigan, white pants, a pair of Tods loafers, walking through the atrium of my beachfront Bridgehampton estate to adjust a flower arrangement.”
Another lavender-scented soporific (studies have shown it helps people relax and sleep better), this neck pillow that writer Alex Ronan loves can be microwaved, too: “After a two-minute nuke, the toasty pillow has a multitude of uses. I’ll sprawl out with it on my stomach when I have cramps or have eaten too much takeout. I’ll retreat to bed and drape the whole thing over my face if I’m feeling particularly unable to face the world. Occasionally, I drift off to sleep and wake up sweaty-faced. Otherwise, I’ll just lie there for a few serene minutes, breathing deeply.”
Writer Ariel Kanter experiences chronic anxiety, but she relies on cooling peppermint oil to help calm it: “When I’m feeling stressed, I go right to the peppermint oil. (For me, it is truly essential.) I like to dab it on my temples or put some on my stomach, which remarkably relieves any nausea I’m feeling at the moment. At home, I keep a big bottle of Aura Cacia peppermint oil next to my bed.”
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