Essential Oils for Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea affects an estimated 1 in every 15 Americans, or 6.62% of the total American population. This chronic sleep disorder can vary from mild to severe and can it can be bothersome for the sufferer and anyone with whom they share a room.

Essential oils for sleep apnea have been found to be natural, safe and effective at easing the symptoms that accompany this condition.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a disorder characterize by shallow breaths or pauses in breathing during sleep. These regular breathing abnormalities can occur as many as 30 times an hour and can extend for a few seconds to several minutes. When normal breathing resumes, it is characterized by a loud snort.

While sleep apnea is relatively common, it can be dangerous as it increases the risk of Atrial Fibrillation, a condition in which the heart beats irregularly and can predispose one to strokes or blood clots.

Sleep apnea can be obstructive or central. It is known as obstructive sleep apnea when the throat muscles and the airways are relaxed and blocked. Central apnea, the less common form of sleep apnea occurs when the brain fails to send the correct signals to the respiratory system.

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

It is possible for sleep apnea to go undiagnosed for a long time. In fact, 1 in 50 people have a case of undiagnosed sleep apnea. Common symptoms include:

  • Frequent pauses in breathing during sleep
  • Waking up suddenly with a loud gasp or snort
  • Loud snoring
  • Waking up with a sore throat, dry mouth or headache
  • Lethargy and sleepiness during the day
  • Being highly irritable during the day

Although using essential oils for sleep apnea can help significantly with alleviating the symptoms, you should still see a specialist doctor who will help you manage the condition comprehensively. Essential oils can help make you feel relaxed and clear up your airways, enabling you to sleep better at night.

What Are The Best Essential Oils For Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Below are just a few of the best essential oils for treating sleep apnea:

1.Olive oil

Olive oil is one of the healthiest multipurpose oils. Olive works to keep your nasal lining moisturized thus allowing air to move through smoothly. This oil has also been found to help in keeping the muscles beneath the palate more tense therefore allowing the airways to remain wide open.

How to use olive oil for sleep apnea

Swallow at least 2 tablespoons of high quality olive oil just before going to bed to moisten your nostril and airways.

2. Peppermint Essential Oil

Peppermint essential oil is known for its anti-inflammatory properties that can ease irritation in the lining inside your nostrils. This can be especially helpful if a nasal condition such as congestion is the cause of your sleep apnea.

How to use peppermint to treat obstructive sleep apnea

Place 2 or 3 drops of peppermint essential oil on your fingers and rub this on your nostrils. This will help to clear any congestion that may cause you to grasp for air when sleeping.

You may also diffuse a few drops of peppermint essential oil in boiling water and then inhale the infused vapor to unclog your nose.Gargling peppermint oil mixed with a glass of water can also relieve your throat and nasal system therefore allowing you to sleep better at night. Gargle the peppermint water and spit it out instead of swallowing it.

3. Primrose Oil and Borage Oil

Primrose essential oil and borage essential oil contain fatty acid and thus work effectively as anti-inflammatories to ease irritations in the nostril that may be blocking the free flow of air and causing sleep apnea. Both of these oils are also excellent at minimizing allergic reactions that may exacerbate sleep disorders. For best results, apply primrose oil or borage oil topically before bedtime or add them in your diet.

4. Eucalyptus Oil

Eucalyptus essential oil, like peppermint works to unblock and eliminate nasal congestion therefore helping to ease your sleep apnea.Eucalyptus oil works by making the mucus membrane in your nostrils more liquefied so you can breathe more easily.Eucalyptus also has inflammatory properties that can alleviate inflammation inside the nostril membrane and airways.

How to use eucalyptus essential oil for sleep apnea

There are two ways to treat obstructive sleep apnea using eucalyptus oil. You may apply 2 drops around the nostrils before going to sleep but be sure to dilute the eucalyptus oil with a mild carrier oil.

Alternatively, you could diffuse eucalyptus oil and inhale the vapor. For this method, you will need a pot of warm water, a towel and 2 to 4 drops of eucalyptus oil.

  • Add the drops of eucalyptus essential oil into the water
  • Bring your head to the pot of water and form a tent by bringing the towel over your head and the pot of water
  • Breath in the eucalyptus vapor and let in through your nostrils and mouth

The Best Essential Oils For Central Sleep Apnea

1.Valerian Root Essential Oil

Valerian essential oil comes from the valerian root and is known for its ability to calm the brain.Researchers have found that valerenic acid, valerone and sesquiterpenes compounds found in distilled valerian root have calming and grounding effects on the central nervous system.

Inhaling or applying valerian essential oil topically before bedtime could help you unwind, therefore easing the symptoms of sleep apnea.Central sleep apnea is not as common as the obstructive type but should still be taken seriously. Allergens, fatigue and other environmental triggers can worsen sleep apnea. Using essential oils for central sleep apnea has been found to effectively ease the symptoms.

2.Thyme Essential Oil

Other than its antiviral, antifungal, antifungal and antimicrobial properties, thyme essential oil is known for its calming effects. Fatigue and restlessness can worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea making it necessary to go to bed feeling relaxed.

The calming effects of thyme essential oil allow the brain to calm down and to correct the signal miscommunication by the brain that causes central sleep apnea in the first place.

How to use thyme essential oil for central sleep apnea

Apply the 3 to 5 drops of diluted thyme essential oil to the base of your feet. If you do not dilute the essential oil, use just 2 drops and apply to the base of your feet.

Caution: If you suffer from high blood pressure, use thyme essential oil only moderately.

3. Roman Chamomile Essential Oil

Chamomile essential oil helps in restoring the normal functioning of the central nervous system and as such can be particularly helpful in alleviating the symptoms of central sleep apnea. To boost better sleep, diffuse chamomile oil next to your bed or place 2 drops on your pillow as you go to bed. Alternatively, you could inhale the essential oil right from the bottle or rub onto your temples.

4. Passionflower Essential Oil

Passionflower essential oil helps in calming the central nervous system, which plays a key role in central sleep apnea. It also has antispasmodic properties that relax your muscles to allow for better sleep. For best results when using passionflower for sleep apnea, add the essential oil in tea or take it as a supplement.


Excessive snoring can interrupt your quality of sleep and life and that of your loved ones. Sleep apnea, which is characterized by such chronic snoring, is indeed a serious problem but it can be put under control.

Medical solutions have their role to play in helping to alleviate the symptoms of sleep apnea. However, to get to the bottom of the problem, you need to make significant lifestyle changes such eating healthy, exercising regularly and using natural sleep apnea treatments such as essential oils.

What’s really great about essential oils for sleep apnea is that these oils help to eliminate many of the triggers of sleep apnea such as fatigue, restlessness, allergies and inflammation. These oils are natural, safe and non-addictive and there is growing scientific evidence to support their effectiveness in treating sleep disorders.

For more content on the use of essential oils, take a look at our post on best essential oils for wrinkles or our roundup of oils for sinus headaches.