By Evelyn Robert, L.Ac.

Helping one to initiate sleep and to remain in a deep sleep state with essential oils, I find, is best accomplished with a combination of aroma therapy, for example diffusing one or more appropriate essential oils into the air, along with applying a blend of essential oils to acupuncture points. An effective blend of oils for this purpose should include at least one oil that calms, stabilizes or descends. As Chinese medicine practitioners, we understand that every person presents with their individual differences, needs and endless possibilities. Here are some ideas. I hope that these will encourage you to create your own.

According to Jeffrey Yuen’s method, essential oils and blends are diluted in a carrier oil as a 1% to 6% dilution, on average, depending on age and sensitivity (always test a small area for sensitivity). The basic math is: in one ounce of carrier oil, a 1% dilution is 10 to 12 drops of essential oil, a 2% dilution is 20 to 24 drops, 3% dilution is 30 to 36 drops, etc. The following blends are intended to be formulated according to this method.


METAL / LUNG: Welcoming the Wei Qi inside.

At the beginning stage of sleep, the Wei Qi which has been busy with the outside world- protecting and keeping us active and responsive, needs to home into the lungs, slowing the breath, and allowing passage to our inner world for rest and repair of body and mind. Healthy Lung Qi aids this process. On an emotional level, we might think of this as freeing the Lung Qi to let go of quilt or loss.

LUNG QI DEFICIENCY- Blend and apply: wu wei zi (Fructus Schisandrae), hu po (Amber), song  zhen (White pine). Carrier oil- Bai Zi Ren. Diffuse Sandalwood.

WITH KIDNEY NOT GRASPING LUNG QI - Blend and apply: wu wei zi (Fructus Schisandrae), bai zi ren (Semen Biotae), yun shan (Black spruce). Carrier oil- sesame.  Diffuse Hu Po (Amber) or Jiang Xiang (Lignum Dalbergiae).

LUNG CONGESTION AND CONSTRAINT- Blend and apply: Eucalyptus, hou po (Cortex Magnolia), bo he (Peppermint), Carrier oil- Almond or Grape seed)  Diffuse: sandalwood or song zhen (Black spruce)


WATER / KIDNEY: Immersing in the Yin. Nourishing the source for stability and security.

Water is the most Yin element and  sleep requires a Yin state enabling us to move from the bright, active Yang of the day to the dark, quiet Yin of the night. If Yin is insufficient, Yang will not  be able to rest within it.  On an emotional level, fear, or insecurity will make it difficult to find comfort and quietude within the dark mystery of Yin.

YIN DEFICIENCY WITH HEAT- wu wei zi (Fructus schisandrae), bai zi ren (Semen biotae), qing hao (Herba Artemesiae annuae), Carrier oil- sesame. Diffuse Jasmine.

WITH HEART BLOOD DEFICIENCY- dang gui (Radix Angelicae sinensis), carrot seed, bai zi ren (Semen biotae), wu wei zi Fructus Schisandrae). Carrier oil- olive.  Diffuse Rose


WOOD / LIVER: Coursing the Qi and Blood-free and easy, cool and calm, letting go.

If wood is not flexible and free, there will be tension, pain and dis-regulation. The liver needs to be relaxed at night in order to receive and store the blood that, during our waking hours, is circulating outward to the sinews. Dry, brittle wood will easily “catch on fire.” On an emotional level, constraint of the free flow of liver Qi and blood may cause mood swings, holding on to anger, resentment or memories that prevent or disrupt sleep.

LIVER YIN/BLOOD DEFICIENCY WITH LIVER QI CONSTRAINT- Blend to apply:  xiang fu (Rhyzoma Cyperi), carrot seed, dang gui (Radix Angelicae sinensis), bo he (Peppermint) (Carrier oil- Bai zi ren)  Diffuse: Lavender or Qi Li Xiang

LIVER QI CONSTRAINT WITH LIVER FIRE and YANG RISING- Blend and apply: Zhi Zi (Fructus Gardeniae), chai hu (Radix Bupleurum), ju hua (Flos Chrysanthemi), bo he (Peppermint). Carrier oil- Bai Zi Ren/Semen Biotae) Diffuse jiang xiang (Lignum Dalbergiae) Lavender, or Jasmine.


FIRE / HEART: Pacifying the spirit, soothing the heart/mind and emotions

Fire is the spark that gives us a sense of awe, wonder and enthusiasm for life. The Heart is the house for the spirit within us, the “little shen.” Strong emotion and imbalances with other elements affecting the Heart, will directly impact the mind and emotions, consequently disturbing sleep, often with anxiety and vivid dreams.

HEART FIRE- Bai zi ren (Semen Biotae), Ju hua (Flos Chrysanthemi), Hu Po (Amber). Carrier oil - Bai zi ren. Diffuse Jin Yin Hua (Flos Lonicerae/ Honeysuckle)

HEART AND KIDNEY NOT COMMUNICATING- wu wei zi (Fructus Schisandrae), bai zi ren (Semen Biotae), rou gui (Cortex Cinnamomi).Carrier oil- Walnut. Diffuse Jasmine

HEART BLOOD DEFICIENCY-  bai zi ren (Semen Biotae), carrot seed, dang gui (Radix Angelicae sinensis), hu po (Amber). Carrier oil- olive or jojoba. Diffuse Rose.

HEART BLOOD STASIS- Frankinsence (Boswellia sacra) jiang xiang (Lignum Dalbergiae), chuan xiong (Radfix Ligusticum wallichii). Carrier oil- Safflower) Diffuse Qi Li Xiang (Murraya paniculata).

PHLEM HARASSING THE HEART- Hu Po (Amber), su he xiang (Styrax), shi chang pu (Rhizoma Acori). Carrier oil- Safflower. Diffuse Huo Xiang (Herba Pogostemonis) or Sandalwood


EARTH / SPLEEN AND STOMACH: Creating harmony at home.

Earth is our center; home, family and relationships. A harmonious earth is a place we can feel settled, with a sense of belonging. During sleep we “rest to digest” not only food but also the thoughts and feelings that arise in reaction to events in our lives. Harmonizing Spleen and Stomach helps to quiet the mind, transforming obsessive thinking into meditative thought and transporting us to the peace of sleep.

FOOD STASIS WITH STOMACH FIRE - Blend and apply: Zhi zi (Fructus Gardeniae), zi su ye (Follium Perillae),  qing pi (Pericarpium Citri reticulatae viride), fou shou (Fructus Citri sarcodactylis). Carrier oil - Bai Zi Ren.  Diffuse Jin Yin Hua

DAMP ENCUMBERANCE  -  huo xiang (Herba Pogostemonis), bai dou kou (Fructus amomi rotundus), cang zhu (Rhyzoma Atractylodis), qing pi (Pericarpium Citri reticulatae viride). Carrier oil - Grape seed) Diffuse Bai Yu Lan Ye (Folium Magnolia officinalis)

SPLEEN QI DEFICIENCY - cang zhu (Rhyzoma Atractylodis), ding xiang (Flos Caryophyllii/clove), rou dou kou (Semen Myisticae/nutmeg), xiao hui xiang (Fructus Foeniculi/Fennel Fruit). Carrier oil- bai zi ren) Diffuse huo xiang (Herba Pogostemonis)