8 healthy habits to naturally calm your nerves before an exam and improve your results

It seems like only yesterday that I was coming up to the end of year 12 and was preparing for my own HSC exams. I don’t stress easily, in fact, I’ve been accused of being too nonchalant about things. However, there was so much pressure on my HSC exams, it was perhaps one of the most stressful times that I recall, and I was on remote Scottish islands in mid-March 2020 when borders began closing and we had to find our way back to Australia, so that’s saying something! Those same border closures lead to lockdowns and severe disruptions for students this year. I can only imagine how much more stressful it will be with Coronavirus disrupting usual learning routines, creating disconnects in social environments, and putting even more anxiety on students.

Since finishing my HSC exams back in 2006 and (fortunately) beating out my UAI requirements, I’ve gone to complete two bachelor’s degrees, a master’s degree and various industry certification exams. In that time, I’ve learned a few things about preparing for exams. The thing is, they never get any less stressful. However, there are things you can do to reduce that stress and to improve your exam performance.

To help, I’ve put together this guide, based on my own experience and research on natural habits that will help to calm your nerves before exams and improve your results.


Study in advance rather than cramming

Exams and studying are stressful, it’s tempting to cram the night before, in all honesty, that’s what I used to do. But, if you get organised it makes a massive difference! Do plenty of study in advance so you can get proper sleep while you are studying and especially avoid that late night/all night cram before each exam. I’ll be the first to admit, cramming was my go-to study method for years, and honestly, there is value to having everything you need stuffed into your short-term memory, but it isn’t the best way.

Being organised in advance will help reduce your stress and anxiety simply due to the mental knowledge you have. You know how much preparation you have done. You know how much you know about the subjects being tested, and you know you are prepared. That goes a long way to reducing stress and anxiety. Not to mention, knowing what you know means you can relax before an exam. You might still choose to review your notes while you wait to start the exam, but it’s not a last-ditch effort to make sure you know it, because you already know you know it.


avoiding alcohol and sugary beverages

For many students, the last year of school becomes a time of parties and alcohol, but excessive consumption of alcohol has been shown to damage memory recall of both short and long term memory (reference). Ongoing excessive consumption of alcohol can damage the part of the brain that is vital for memory function, the hippocampus (reference). While finishing off your HSC is a time of celebration, maybe save the alcohol until after your exams, and definitely not the night before an exam! No one wants to go into an exam hungover.

It isn’t just alcohol though. 

Excessive sugar consumption has been shown to lead to poor memory and reduced brain volume (reference). This isn’t just soft drink’s though, it’s also energy drinks. Energy drinks tend to be chock full of sugars, so while they might give you a boost of energy, the sugar is damaging your memory. Instead of relying on these drinks to get you through exams, use other methods of improving your energy, like sleep, exercise, and aromatherapy. 

Reducing your sugar intake is also good for your overall health and wellbeing, which in turn can actually improve your energy and general mental state too.

Instead, drink lots of water and if you want to change it up, flavour it naturally with a slice of lemon, orange, or some berries.


regular sleep

Getting good quality, regular sleep is important, both during your study time and in the nights leading up to each exam.

Our brains consolidate memories during our sleep, and in doing so, they are strengthening our synapses, making it easier to remember the things we learn each day (reference). If we don’t get enough sleep each night, then we are missing out on that memory consolidation.

It’s also important to remember to sleep well the night before an exam. Yes, I know, you want to get in every last little bit of cramming, but if you don’t sleep much, or at all, it can leave you feeling rotten on the day of the exam. This won’t help you to remember things and won’t help your confidence either.

Another side effect of missing out on sleep is increased anxiety and irritability which is not great in an exam. This is exacerbated with energy drinks and caffeine. The best solution is to get plenty of sleep.

If you have trouble winding down and sleeping during this stressful time, have a look at our blog post on how to get better sleep naturally.


regular EXERCISE

A number of studies have been conducted into the effects of exercise on cognitive function and memory. The results show that even just 15 minutes worth of exercise on a stationary bike is enough to improve your cognitive ability and recall (reference).

I am terrible at exercising. In all honesty, I would probably be a hermit that disappears into my own little virtual world, if I could. However, I can’t, and regular exercise has been shown to improve the growth and development of neurons in your brain (reference).

At the same time as improving your mental capability, exercise is also helping to improve your physical fitness. Two birds, one stone, even if you do have to do something you don’t like.

I’ll admit, even though I struggle to get motivated to exercise, I do feel much better afterwards and most of my best ideas happen when I go out for a walk!


regular, short breaks

While it can be tempting to cram in as much ‘learning’ as possible for as long as possible, it’s important to stop and take regular short breaks where you’re not actually taking in or processing any information. This gives your mind and body an opportunity to rest and rejuvenate, and it gives your brain a chance to process everything you’ve just taken in. First identified over 100 years ago, subsequent research has found that taking 10-15 minute breaks between topics of study can help with memory retention. Just make sure you spend that time either thinking about what you learned, going for a walk, or meditating, and not things that will occupy your mind with other thoughts, like TV, games, or chores.

Where possible, I like to break my study time into 15-20 minute chunks with a 10-minute break in between.



Aromatherapy is the use of aromas and natural compounds found in essential oils for health and wellbeing. Certain essential oils have been found to improve focus and memory retention while others can reduce tension and anxiety.

Choose an essential oil or blend of essential oils to use while you study that will help you to focus and retain what you are learning, and then use one that will help you to relax in your downtime. If you have trouble sleeping, consider using a blend of oils that will help you to sleep, either in a diffuser or in the form of a pillow mist, sprayed on your pillow before you go to bed.

Aromatherapy for concentration and memory retention

Rosemary and lavender essential oils have been found to help with the retention of image memory, however, while rosemary has also been found to help with number memory, lavender is detrimental to it (reference). This could perhaps in part be a side effect of the calming properties of lavender compared to the stimulating properties of rosemary (reference). Using lavender during your break time, though, can help to release stress and improve concentration when you go back to your studies (reference).

Peppermint essential oil, like lavender, can serve multiple purposes. You see, peppermint stimulates and relaxes at the same time. Peppermint essential oil has been found to help calm nerves, reduce fatigue and improve oxygen delivery to the brain (reference), all great things while you are studying! By the way, peppermint tea can help with this too!

Lemon essential oil has been shown to improve cognitive function (reference) and improve memory (reference). While the studies into lemon essential oils are largely around patients suffering from illnesses that affect memory, the demonstrated positive effects make it a worthwhile inclusion in your study arsenal!

Then there is basil. Basil essential oil contains a compound called linalool which has been found to reduce memory loss, particularly during times of insufficient sleep (reference). You wouldn’t be missing out on sleep during exam periods by any chance, would you? I know you are making sure to get lots of sleep as we talked about earlier, but regardless, choosing an essential oil blend that has basil in it, or simply using basil essential oil on its own, can be helpful during exam time to reduce memory loss, especially if you are short on sleep.

Our 100% pure essential oil blend, Wakey Wakey is designed to help perk you up, either at the start of a day, or when you are feeling tired partway through the day. Wakey Wakey is also a great choice for exam time. This special blend of basil, cypress (increases concentration), lime, peppermint, and rosemary has been designed specifically to help improve your focus, boost your energy and improve your memory retention, exactly what you need while you are studying.

Aromatherapy for Relaxation

To help you relax in between studying and in your downtime between exams choose essential oils that are known for their calming and relaxing properties. We mentioned lavender earlier, as it is known to help calm the nerves and reduce stress, but there are other essential oils you can choose. Consider chamomile, patchouli, frankincense (linked to improved spatial memory and reduced anxiety), ylang-ylang (a natural relaxant that helps improve focus), vetiver (reduces stress), and sandalwood (promotes mental clarity) too.

We have two blends that are specifically focused on helping you relax, and you will find ingredients in both of these that are designed to help bring calm and harmony to the mind and body.

Peace Essential Oil Blend: Peace isn’t a ‘restful’ aroma, but rather a spicy blend of lavender, bergamot, cypress, sweet orange and vetiver. Peace helps to clear your mind and bring it to a state of calm. I personally like to have this one diffusing while I work, especially when I have a lot going on.

After Hours Essential Oil Blend: Like Peace, After Hours has a spicy note to it and has been crafted to soothe and uplift after a long day. The tantalising blend of bergamot, cinnamon leaf, clover, lavender, lemon, and rose geranium will help you to unwind after a study session.

Unwind Essential Oil Blend:Designed to help your body to relax and unwind after a stressful day. This can be a good choice to use earlier in the evening. Note, Unwind does not have lavender in it if you are specifically looking for a blend with lavender.

Aromatherapy for Sleep

When it comes to sleep, lavender is a great choice, in fact, we have a pillow mist specifically crafted around lavender to help you sleep, Lavender Dreams, but there are other options too. Our Sweet Dreams essential oil blend is formulated specifically to help you drift off to sleep, and our Calm Mind pillow mist will help to settle the restless mind so you can sleep easier.

Sweet Dreams Essential Oil Blend: This essential oil blend is formulated precisely for the purpose of helping you to relax into the warm embrace of sleep. This is one of my personal favourite essential oil blends! Also available as a pillow mist.

Aromatherapy for concentration and memory retention

Rosemary and lavender essential oils have been found to help with the retention of image memory, however, while rosemary has also been found to help with number memory, lavender is detrimental to it (reference). This could perhaps in part be a side effect of the calming properties of lavender compared to the stimulating properties of rosemary (reference). Using lavender during your break time, though, can help to release stress and improve concentration when you go back to your studies (reference).



What you put into your body goes a long way towards what you get out of it. Choosing healthy food makes a big difference. A diet rich in foods that are anti-inflammatory can help improve your memory! This means lots of fruit, vegetables and teas, particularly herbal teas. This kind of diet has been found to lower the risk of cognitive decline (reference) and studies on the intake of foods like blueberries and strawberries that are particularly high in antioxidants like flavonoids and anthocyanins makes a big difference to memory retention (reference)!

Curcumin, a natural compound found in turmeric, has a powerful anti-inflammatory effect on the brain. Curcumin reduces inflammation to the brain and lowers the amount of amyloid plaque accumulating on your brain neurons (reference). Why is this important? These plaques lead to cell and tissue death that cause memory loss. Maybe not such a big deal while you are younger, but every little bit helps, especially as you prepare to enter the next stage of your life, be it tertiary education or the workforce.

Now, I know, sometimes you just need some comfort food during stressful times, I’ve been there (frequently), but eating well doesn’t mean you have to miss out. Chocolate can also be rich in flavonoids! The darker the chocolate (and the lower the sugar), the better! 

Studies have shown that people who consume dark chocolate, which is rich in flavonoids, have better memory recall than people who consume white chocolate, which has no flavonoids (reference). Look for 70% cacao mass or higher!

I love chocolate!


Listening to classical music while studying

Many studies have been conducted into the effects of music on learning, and while the debate continues, one thing is clear: Classical music helps you learn.

Labelled the Mozart effect, classical music won’t make you smarter as some have suggested, but, like everything else on this list, it can help you to focus and recall what you learn.

Personally, I find it makes a huge difference to my focus when I am studying, and I definitely remember things better. I’ll be completely honest with you, for a long time, I wasn’t convinced, I thought all music was distracting. However, as my master’s degree was nearing completion, I found I had increasing difficulty staying focused while studying. 

I decided to try listening to classical music and soon discovered that it did help. Initially, I thought it was just because it reduced the prominence of distractions. I am easily distracted anyway, but let’s be honest, distractions are extremely easy to come by while you are studying. Even a car driving past or a bird singing can be a study distraction! Classical music reduced that. Soon I realised that classical music was not only reducing the distractions, but my mind was wandering less and I was remembering things better too.

I highly recommend giving it a try!

Bringing it all together

There are so many ways that you can calm your nerves before an exam and improve your overall performance during stressful exam periods. However, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Some things are going to work for you and some things won’t. The only way to know for sure is to give them a try.

For me, I spent a long time convinced that cramming the day before and the morning of an exam worked the best. It wasn’t until I started researching and experimenting with different techniques and longer-term habits that I discovered that planning my study out in advance, listening to classical music, using aromatherapy, exercising regularly, and eating better actually made a big difference.

During my HSC and my first bachelor’s degree, I drank a lot of energy drinks (especially my first degree), but I’ve since discovered that eating right, sleeping, and exercising give me more energy and are better choices for my health and overall mental state. There is honestly nothing better than going into an exam with mental clarity and virtually no anxiety, except for finishing an exam and knowing that you knew the answers to every question!

Pin it for later

8 Healthy Habits to Calm Your Nerves Before Exams Pin 1

How to get better sleep, naturally

Tips to get better sleep naturally header

Sleep can be frustratingly elusive at times. That bedtime friend. Peaceful, relaxing, calm, soothing sleep. Sometimes you can spend hours trying to sleep with no luck, your mind is just wide awake, running a mile-a-minute. Other times, you have aches, pains and other potential problems keeping you up. Yet, you know if you could just get to sleep, some of those aches might be relieved. Headaches anyone?

Perhaps it’s not even that. Maybe it’s the noises. You can hear creaking, dripping, or the wildlife outside in the dark. You are almost asleep, but you hear movement somewhere. Footsteps on the roof maybe? What was that sound?


Fortunately, there is a lot that you can do to help improve your sleep naturally and ease your body off to the land of nod.

Environmental factors

Environmental factors are the things around you. The things you see, feel, hear and smell. You can make changes here that help you to sleep better.

Make time for the sunset

The sun plays a big part in our sleep cycles. According to the Sleep Foundation, sunlight regulates our sleeping patterns. Melatonin is a hormone that is produced naturally in our bodies in sync with levels of light. More light = less melatonin. Less light = more melatonin. 

Lights can confuse our body clocks, and even simple things like changes in light levels in summer when the days are longer (particularly in places further away from the Equator like Victoria and Tasmania) can throw off our internal clocks. 

In Winter, when days are shorter, all the lights we use inside our houses can trick our body clocks. The sun goes down in the evening, but inside your home, does it get darker? Do you see the sun fall off the edge of the world? At some point, the sunlight gets dim enough that you have to turn the lights on, but that might well be before the sun has gone down. In which case, the light levels remain reasonably constant.

Perhaps you are at work in Winter, and the sun goes down before you leave. When I lived in Sydney, I’d leave work in Winter, and it was dark already. I missed the sunset entirely. When I arrived home, the house lights would be on, and that was that.

If you don’t have a lot of windows in your home, or workplace, you might find that you miss the slow fall of the sun over the horizon.

To try and keep your body clock in tune, especially as days get longer and shorter, make time to catch the sunset. Research by GE in developing LED lights to assist with sleep found that the orange and yellow hues we are used to seeing in sunsets help to stimulate melatonin production. If you can see the sunset from where you usually spend the evenings inside your house, that’s awesome! If not try and put yourself somewhere that has windows, or even better, outside.

Australian Sunset
Image by Matthew Brown

Other ideas to see the natural change in light (depending on your situation) might include:

  • Sit on the patio
  • Move your dinner table to a part of the house that has lots of windows.
  • Go for an evening walk, ride, or some other form of outdoor activity.
  • Read a book in a comfy chair where the sunset is visible

If you wanted to put yourself out there, you could find a good seat and take 20 minutes to watch the sun go to sleep for the day. If you can get a good view of it, even better. Sunsets can be absolutely gorgeous, and so often we miss them with our busy schedules!

Seek out the darkness

Continuing with melatonin production and the effects of light on your body, make sure that your bedroom is as dark as possible – close the block out curtains tightly before you go to bed (if you have them). If you don’t have block out curtains, make sure as little light gets in as possible. 

If you have a street light outside like I used to, you might want to come up with a solution to ensure it doesn’t disturb you. My bedroom is, unfortunately, located at the front of the house directly opposite a street light. The window only had Venetian blinds on it, so this left a few centimetres around each side of the window that let light in. To add misery to misfortune, the only place in the room that worked for our bed to be located (it’s a really small master bedroom), meant that the street light was glittering through those couple of centimetres straight across my pillow all night long. Not good. I ended up installing block out curtains, I couldn’t handle it.

Tangent aside, next, ensure all the lights are off (obvious right?) and cover any lights that you can’t turn off. One example is the peephole in the door if applicable (eg when you are staying in a hotel). These let in a remarkable amount of light.

Another example that I find particularly annoying when I stay at hotels is the television power LED. Especially when they are directly in front of the bed. The red LED’s don’t bother me as much, but pretty much any other colour can be bothersome and blue is the worst. Blue light is known to disrupt sleep, so try to get rid of or block these if you can. This includes the little LEDs in chargers.

I, personally, am a fan of reducing light throughout the house at least an hour prior to bed, but this isn’t always possible, especially if you have children about. I have one of these Philips Hue systems that let me dim the lights and switch the colours to deep oranges. There is actually a flickering candle mode that I quite like before bed. Switching your lights to these sunset-esque colours can help to signal to your body that you are going to bed soon. Melatonin station here I come!

What if you need to get up in the night? Well…if you can manage in the dark that is awesome – I always try to as much as possible, but it isn’t always safe or practical. Middle of the night cat crazy time anyone (if you’ve ever had a pet cat in the house, you’ll know what I’m talking about)? 

If you need to use some light, I would suggest the screen of a smartphone with night mode turned on and the brightness down. This keeps the light to a minimum and reduces the amount of blue light, so it should be the least disruptive to your sleep. I have seen some people go as far as putting red cellophane over their lights so that they are always red light only, meaning they can turn their lights on at night with minimal impact. I’m not a fan of going this far, personally. 

If you have smart bulbs like the Philips Hue, you can also set them to emit a dim red light, giving you more visibility with less impact on your melatonin levels. This, in turn, should help to ensure the lights don’t disturb your ability to get back to sleep.

Immerse yourself in aromas that help you to sleep

Aromatherapy isn’t new. It’s a practice that evidence suggests has been in use for at least 6000 years. There are a number of naturally occurring scents that will help you to sleep, and Iamme has formulated a blend called Sweet Dreams that is specifically designed to relax your mind and help you drift off to sleep. 

Essential Oil Diffuser
Image by Anke Sundermeier from Pixabay

While not formulated as sleep aids, two of Arianrhod’s other blends can also assist and I personally use all three in rotation depending on the time that I turn the diffuser on and how I’m feeling.

Sweet Dreams Essential Oil Blend: This essential oil blend is formulated precisely for the purpose of helping you to relax into the warm embrace of sleep. This is one of my personal favourite essential oil blends in the Arianrhod Aromatics range.

Unwind Essential Oil Blend: Designed to help your body to relax and unwind after a stressful day. This can be a good one to use earlier in the evening, but it is still a great option at bedtime.

Peace Essential Oil Blend: This one isn’t exactly a ‘restful’ aroma, Iamme calls it ‘spicy’, and I’d agree with that. Peace helps to clear your mind and bring it to a state of calm. I actually quite like to have this one diffusing while I work.

If you prefer a simpler aroma, lavender is known to provide a calming, soothing effect making it the perfect choice to use around your home. A couple of drops of Arianrhod Aromatics Lavender Essential Oil in your diffuser will help you relax before bed.

There are multiple approaches to aromatic immersion, including essential oil diffusers, candles and pillow mists.

A pillow mist, as the name might suggest, is a fragrant blend designed to be sprayed on your pillow. However, they can also be used on other linens around your home to immerse yourself in aromatic delights. Spray them on your curtains, bedsheets, fabric lounges and armchairs or anywhere else that you spend a lot of time to help soothe your mind. Many pillow mists include essential oils that have antibacterial properties so this can also help to remove odour-causing bacteria at the same time.

Arianrhod Aromatics has three pillow mists that have been carefully mixed to help you drift off to sleep.

Sweet Dreams Pillow Mist: A slight variation on the Sweet Dreams Essential Oil Blend, the Arianrhod Aromatics Sweet Dreams Pillow Mist is formulated to create a relaxing, calming environment.

Calm Mind Pillow Mist: Has been blended to create an atmosphere of relaxation, helping your mind to slow down, ready for sleep.

Lavender Dream Pillow Mist: A delicate blend of lavender and sandalwood that will have you feeling like you are in a luxurious day spa, pampered and ready for a relaxing sleep. This one is my wife’s favourite.

There are other ways you can leverage essential oils to immerse yourself in aromas that will help you to sleep, including on potpourri and choosing moisturisers that have been formulated with sleep-friendly essential oils. Another alternative is to choose a fragrance-free moisturiser and mix in a few drops of your chosen essential oil blends.

Learn more about the benefits of using essential oils in your daily routine.

Mimic natural temperature variations

In the real world, also known as outside where there is no heating or air-conditioning to maintain stable temperatures, there are natural fluctuations throughout the day and night. I’m sure you’ve noticed that even on a scorching summer’s day, it won’t be as hot in the morning when you first get up. The temperature will increase throughout the day to around 1 pm.

Once the sun starts to make its descent in the afternoon, the temperature slowly begins to drop. After the sun dips below the horizon altogether, the temperature falls further and continues throughout the night until dawn. Most of the time. Sometimes the weather is crazy and it stays hot all night, but that is the exception.

At dawn, as the sun pokes it’s cheery cheeks over the horizon again, the process repeats with a gradual increase in temperature.

With this in mind:

If you are using climate control devices in your house, turn the temperature up after you get out of bed in the morning. Even just a small amount can help. Turn it down before you go to bed.

Air Con Remote Control
Image by Arif Wachyudin from Pixabay

You will sleep better when the temperature is a few degrees lower than it was while you were awake. So turning down the thermostat helps mimic that natural change and also reduces the chances of waking up hot and sweaty during the night.

I try to avoid running climate control too much, but when it’s one of those freezing cold nights, you don’t have much choice. Sometimes I find small temperature tweaks are all that is required, and other times I find more significant changes work better. Just experiment and see what works best for you.

Behavioural factors

Cut the caffeine early

I understand, caffeine is the well of life and you simply cannot exist without it. You know what though? That’s only because so many of us have built up such a high tolerance to it (or because your heart medication puts you to sleep anyway, there’s also a few other potential reasons, but the most common is tolerance).

Just because you can drink a cup of coffee or an energy drink before bed and then go to sleep doesn’t mean you should.

Cut out caffeinated drinks as early as practical (and food, yes tiramisu, I’m talking about you – I once had tiramisu at a restaurant on the Gold Coast that was unexpectedly soaked in their strongest blend. I was up all night). I’m talking really early, somewhere around 2 pm early. Healthline indicates that the half-life of caffeine in your body is five hours. So if you have a cup of coffee at 2 pm, half of it will be gone by 7 pm. Most of the effects will be worn off by this time, but it takes another 5 hours for half of what is left to be gone. So at midnight, your body still has 25% of that caffeine cruising around.

For me, caffeine disrupts my sleep for approximately 8 hours after ingestion.

Coffee Cup
Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

On a somewhat related note, caffeine is also a diuretic. That means that you will need to visit the lavatory more frequently. Who needs that in the middle of the night, potentially more than once, to relieve that pressure? Not me! I have not seen any studies to confirm my hypothesis, but I suspect there are a lot of people up through the night because of caffeine-related movements. There are more than enough possible disturbances without extra toilet stops on the sleep highway.

Remember, most black teas have caffeine in them too, as do energy drinks and a number of soft drinks. If you need the hot drink experience before bed, consider a hot chocolate or herbal tea instead. There are a couple of excellent herbal tea options that can cause drowsiness which we’ll talk about in the next section on natural sleep aids. Even if you don’t go with one that causes drowsiness, herbal tea is an excellent alternative to caffeine.

Use natural sleep aids

Herbal teas really are amazing! There is a wide range of choice from many different brands that have herbal ingredients to help soothe your mind and body before bed. However, both peppermint and chamomile tea are known to help to soothe the mind and cause drowsiness. Kind of ironic considering peppermint can also be energising! Look for teas that include one of those ingredients. You can also get herbal teas that are solely peppermint or chamomile and these are excellent choices too. Regardless of your choice, herbal teas are a great way to have a hot drink in the evening that is actually going to help you sleep rather than risk keeping you awake.

Read more about the benefits of peppermint and chamomile.

Other natural options include magnesium supplements or creams, and lavender scents. A great option that combines magnesium with aromatherapy in a lotion is the Arianrhod Aromatics MagHemp Sleep Lotion

MagHemp Sleep Lotion is a carefully crafted blend of well known natural sleep aids, magnesium and hemp in the form of a gentle moisturising lotion infused with essential oils that assist with sleep. If you are having trouble sleeping and want a simple solution, MagHemp Sleep Lotion combines aromatherapy with magnesium into a lotion that you simply massage into your feet before bed.

Grant told us:

I’ve been using it [MagHemp Sleep Lotion] for the past few months and found it so effective at eliminating calf twitches and helping get back to sleep quickly after waking during the night that I just placed an order for the 250ml size. Thanks.


Don’t eat just before bed

Your digestion doesn’t stop while you sleep, but it does slow down. What this means is if your stomach is full right before bed, you may not finish digesting this food until morning. The problem with eating right before bed that can be a potentially bigger issue is that it disrupts your stomach’s regular healing process.

So, if your stomach is unable to heal itself efficiently, it can leave you feeling unpleasant in the morning and potentially wake you up throughout the night.

Image by Divily from Pixabay

If you go to bed on a full stomach, this means you are also going to be doing your digestion horizontally instead of vertically. Depending on how you sleep, you could be putting pressure on your stomach and esophagus. Full of food, that pressure can cause discomfort, and regardless of position, you are more likely to experience symptoms like indigestion, heartburn and acid reflux.

It won’t work for everyone, but I find starting my dinner around 5-6 pm and going to bed around 10:30 pm works well for me. This timeframe gives my body a reasonable window to digest the food I’ve put into it before I go to sleep and my digestion slows. I’m not perfect, mind you (I know, who would have guessed?), and sometimes a late-night snack is required. Keep it as minimal as possible.

Here’s an excellent video from Nutrition Facts about the benefits of eating early.

Don’t overeat in the evening (or at all)

Overeating in the evening can also contribute to an unwell tummy during the night simply because you still have food in your stomach when you go to bed.

The closer your bedtime is to your dinner time, the less you should eat. Less food in your stomach means less for your body to digest before you sleep. This logic stands true even if you eat dinner around 5-6 pm. A massive meal may not get digested before bed, regardless of whether you are going to bed at 10 pm or 2 am.

Image by silviarita from Pixabay

Also of note regarding overeating and digestion: Studies have found that your body needs more time to fully digest low-fibre foods like meat than it does for high-fibre foods like vegetables. So making sure to have lots of fibre at dinner (and your other meals) will assist your body to digest your food promptly.

Make sure you have enough food

In contrast to overeating food, you also need to make sure you have enough. If you don’t have enough energy reserves when you go to bed, then your sleep can be disrupted.

If your brain runs out of fuel while you are asleep, it will wake you up. This is called nocturnal hypoglycemia. I first learned of this phenomenon listening to a Tim Ferris podcast on a completely unrelated topic. Apparently it happens more often than you might think. I’ve definitely experienced it myself.

So, what does the brain need to get you through the night?

Basically, glucose. Overnight, your brain has to oversee the daily maintenance and repair operations in your body. If it doesn’t have enough glucose to do that, then you are going to have a problem.

If you find yourself inextricably waking up during the night, try having a tablespoon of honey 30-minutes before bed or when you wake up in the night. This small amount won’t be enough to make you feel ill, but it will give your brain the glucose it needs to function while you sleep.

If honey isn’t practical (or you don’t eat it), have an apple, banana or other fruit before bed. A couple of grapes or berries if you wake up in the night should also do the trick. Keep the quantity minimal, so it doesn’t sit in your tummy all night. Again, try to have the fruit at least half an hour before you go to bed so your body has time to do some work on it before you are horizontal.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Go for a walk or do some other exercise

I like to throw a 30-minute brisk walk into my evenings (when I can). About half an hour after dinner is sufficient for me to wait to avoid getting a stitch. Leave it an hour though if you need to. It doesn’t have to be high-intensity, but the brisker, the better. Alternatively, go cycling or do some other form of exercise in the evening, preferably outside where you can see the light change.

Cycling at sunset
Image by Mabel Amber from Pixabay

Exercising serves a few purposes:

  • To increase your metabolism. A higher metabolic rate will help burn off any extra food that you might have consumed throughout the day, including at dinner time.
  • To expend energy before bed. Exercise helps to burn off some of the excess energy you might have and tire your body out before bed.
  • See the sunset. Kill two figurative birds with one politically correct stone, see the light change and exercise at the same time.

If you live in an apartment building, try climbing stairs. Call me crazy, but I’m quite a fan of this (when I’m somewhere that has stairs). If I climb 12, 24, or perhaps even 36 flights of stairs before bed, I’m going to be pretty tired.

Sleep Apps & Wearables

Wearable devices have been around for a few years now and they are becoming increasingly sophisticated. Wearables like Fitbits, Apple Watches and other smart watches are able to track and record data about your sleep. Combined with recommendations to help improve the quality of your sleep, they are great tools but can be a bit pricey. 

Apps like Sleep Cycle have gotten so smart that they no longer require any wearable technology at all. Instead, Sleep Cycle runs on your smartphone and listens to your breathing. Doing so, it is able to identify when you are asleep and how deep your sleep is. While the concept of an app being able to not only listen to and understand my breathing but also separate it from the other sounds in the room (including another person asleep beside you) is mind boggling and a little bit creepy, the data it provides is remarkable.

Many of these kinds of apps, including Sleep Cycle, are free with paid upgrades. Even the free versions usually provide plenty of insights to help you learn about your sleep and what you might be able to do to improve it. Paid versions include extra features like ambient sounds designed to help you sleep.

Sleep Cycle Screenshot

And if all else fails…

If all else fails, count your breathing – It’s kind of like counting sheep. I find if I’m laying there awake, consciously breathing in and out while counting each inward breath puts me to sleep. If my thoughts drift off to other things, I just bring them back to counting breaths and focus on that. Before long I’m watching eyelid movies. It’s a pretty basic concept, but it really does help, especially combined with aromatherapy.

Why not just do this to start with? Well, I find it usually doesn’t work as the first port of call. That might be different for you. Give it a try and see. Everyone is different, and to be honest, every time you have trouble sleeping is probably going to be different. For me, I find that this works best when I’ve already been laying in bed for a while, wide awake, and to be honest, I’m probably stewing over something. Chances are I haven’t even realised I’m stewing until I’ve been awake for hours.

Aromatherapy helps to calm the mind, and then giving myself something basic to focus on in place of whatever it is that has my mind doing somersaults can help to let go of whatever that is for long enough that my brain can actually relax for long-enough to let me go to sleep.

That’s it!

These are all things that my wife and I do to make sure we always get  the best sleep we can. We aren’t perfect though. Sometimes things happen that throw our sleep cycles out for days. Using the concepts I’ve outlined above though, we are able to get back into good sleep habits quickly. Good quality sleep makes a world of difference to my day, and I bet it will to yours too.

Let us know your favourite sleep tips in the comments box below.

Tips to get better sleep naturally Pin 1
Tips to get better sleep naturally Pin 4
Tips to get better sleep naturally Pin 3
Tips to get better sleep naturally Pin 2

What essential oils are best for skincare, hair care and wellbeing?


What oils are best for skincare, hair and wellbeing?

You’re binge-watching those movies depicting ancient kingdoms and wonder if women really had such flawless skin in real life. It turns out that depiction of princesses is actually, at least in part, accurate. Taking care of your skin started a very long time ago. The vast difference between the products used in ancient kingdoms, and those used today is the origin. Hundreds and thousands of years ago, people didn’t have access to the synthetic ingredients we find in most skin-care products today, so they used the materials available to them, and yes, these ancient skincare regimes were organic.

Ancient Greeks and Egyptians used olive oil, moringa oil and a variety of plant-based oils. Many other ancient tribes have left traces of evidence that they used rudimentary essential oils as a moisturiser for both their skin and hair. With the exception of some very dangerous ingredients that we now stay well clear of (like lead), all-natural skin-care products used for millennia have continued to be the best options. It wasn’t all that long ago that we discovered the connection between lead in skincare with issues like hormonal imbalances, neurotoxicity, reduced fertility, and other problems. The dangers of many synthetic products continue to become more apparent and some synthetic ingredients can be very damaging to your skin.

For thousands of years, oils have also been used for wellbeing. Diffusing essential oils for aromatherapy is an ancient practice, dating back at least 6000 years. Some organic essential oils can be beneficial to unwind and destress your mind and body while others can help ease upset stomachs, reduce headache pain and provide other health benefits beyond the simple pleasure of their fragrance.

In this article, we will talk about essential oils. These oils are plant extracts derived from flowers, leaves, bark or seeds. Some provide benefits that stand-alone, while some are blended together to achieve the desired outcome on one’s well being or skin. Essential oils can have many uses, we will categorise them based on suggested usage – skin, hair and personal welfare.


For Skin

Good things come gradually – this is an age-old secret. Achieving healthy and vibrant skin comes from your daily care routine. Let’s uncover the hidden gem of the ancients, organic oils. As various oils are used for different types of skin, let’s take a look at which oils are best to use on certain skin conditions. Look for these essential oils in the products you use for your skin care routine, or, if appropriate, consider trying them in a diluted form directly on your skin. Always consult with your dermatologist first and never use undiluted essential oils.

Essential oils for dry skin. 

Oils can provide relief as part of your moisturising routine for dry skin. Especially during extreme conditions like summer heat and winter wind. Some essential oils have anti-inflammatory properties to help your skin heal and reduce redness. Essential oils that are good for dry skin include lavender, chamomile and sandalwood. These oils may be best known for their ability to help you relax and sleep, but they are also natural hydrators that increase moisture and reduce inflammation.

Essential oils for oily skin

Some skin types produce excessive oil (known as sebum) through overactive sebaceous glands, especially in humid climates and hot weather. Hormonal imbalances can also cause your sebaceous glands to work overtime. A number of essential oils can assist in balancing out sebum produced to reduce the oily feeling on your skin: clary sage, rosemary, frankincense, geranium and neroli. Perhaps the most famous due to it’s Biblical references, frankincense is a tree resin from the dry mountainous regions of India, Africa and the Middle East. It has a spicy, woody aroma and can be absorbed through the skin or inhaled with a diffuser.

Essential oils for skin conditions

There are various skin conditions that essential oils can assist with, including skin rashes, acne, and age spots.  If you have acne-prone skin – lemon, lemongrass, cinnamon and tea tree oils might help remove excess oils while reducing skin microbes and inflammation. Lemon is known for its astringent antiseptic properties.

Some oils are known to alleviate itchiness and help battle atopic dermatitis (eczema) and psoriasis. The following oils have pain-relieving properties and can assist your skin health – peppermint, wintergreen, eucalyptus and patchouli. These oils have an analgesic effect and can help to cool down hot rashes.

Some tips on incorporating essential oils into your skincare routine.

  • Start by washing and gently exfoliating the skin.
  • Add a few drops of essential oil to your moisturiser
  • Apply your essential oil infused moisturiser to your skin using a sweeping upward motion.
  • You can also blend 2-3 drops of essential oil with your foundation while applying makeup.


For Hair

Using essential oils in your hair care routine is starting to regain popularity, but like skincare, it isn’t a new idea. Essential oils are easy to use in your routine and can improve the health of your hair and scalp. Some essential oils can also increase hair growth, strength and shine. Essential oils can be directly applied and brushed onto your hair or mixed into your shampoo or conditioner. You can also choose a shampoo and conditioner that have the desired essential oils infused.

Look for these essential oils depending on your hair type:

  • Lavender – Lavender oil can speed up hair growth – it has properties that can generate the growth of cells and reduce stress.
  • Peppermint – Peppermint oil can cause a cold, tingling feeling when it increases circulation to the area it’s applied to. It can help promote hair growth during the anagen (or growing) phase.
  • Rosemary – If you want to improve both hair thickness and hair growth, rosemary oil is a great choice thanks to its ability to enhance cellular generation.
  • Cedarwood – It has antifungal and antibacterial properties, which can treat different conditions that may contribute to dandruff and hair loss.
  • Lemongrass – Dandruff can be a common ailment, and having a healthy, flake-free scalp is an important part of hair health. Lemongrass oil is an effective dandruff treatment.
  • Thyme – Thyme can help promote hair growth by both stimulating the scalp and actively preventing hair loss.
  • Clary Sage – Clary sage oil contains the same linalyl acetate that helps make lavender oil so effective in increasing hair growth. It can improve hair strength, in addition to boosting hair growth, making hair more difficult to break.
  • Tea Tree – Tea tree oil has powerful cleansing, antibacterial, and antimicrobial properties. When used topically, it can help unplug blocked hair follicles and increase hair growth.
  • Ylang-ylang – Ylang-ylang oil is ideal for those with dry scalps, as it can stimulate sebum production. As lack of enough oil and sebum causes hair to become dry and brittle, ylang-ylang can improve hair texture and reduce hair breakage.


For wellbeing

The aromas of essential oils are also good for your health and wellbeing. Diffusing oil in a diffuser, or other ways, has a range of benefits for both the body and soul. 

Essential Blends – Some essential oils compliment each other and increase their effects. Our blended essential oils are perfect for use in your office, living room and bedroom. All Arianrhod Aromatics 100% essential oils have multiple uses – in the bath, the shower, in potpourri by your bedside or, for the blends intended to help you sleep, within your linen for a restful night’s sleep. Totally relaxing – use some blends before bedtime for a wonderful, restful sleep or wake-up with a refreshed mind using Wakey Wakey. 

Below are some of our popular essential oil blends – my personal favourite is Sweet Dreams.

100% Pure Essential Oil Blend Peace – This 100% pure essential oil blend carries a spicy aroma you will find harmonising, calming and balancing as it contains bergamot, cypress, lavender, sweet orange and vetiver.

100% Pure Essential Oil Blend After Hours – You may like to use this wonderful oil after a long, hard day as this particular blend has a sensuously spicy scent to be welcoming, soothing and uplifting. Using aromatherapy principles, this blend was created to help you unwind and to help eliminate any airborne bugs you might have carried home with you.

100% Pure Essential Oil Blend Sweet Dreams – Totally relaxing! Use before bedtime for a wonderful, restful sleep. Breathe in this soothing aroma as you unwind. Welcome sleep within its aromatic environment. It is created for your bedtime with cinnamon leaf, clary sage, frankincense, mandarin and ylang-ylang.

100% Pure Essential Oil Blend Wakey Wakey – Need that extra energy when you have more to do but you don’t want to be drinking large quantities of caffeine or energy drinks? Wakey Wakey is designed for those times when you are studying or working late into the afternoon or evening. When a yawn or two comes while you are at your computer and you still have work to do. This creation has the answer for you. Walking outside is known to help stimulate your brain, so take a metaphorical walk in the forest when you need some extra energy from nature. Inhale this wonderful aroma for that extra boost you need at any time.

Don’t be overwhelmed

Now that you know some of the many uses of essential oils for body, hair and wellbeing. You might be overwhelmed by the many essential oils that are beneficial for you. If you aren’t sure, just get in touch with us. You can call, email or message us on Facebook with your questions and we’ll help you to pick out the right one for your needs. Once you begin to use essential oils, it won’t be long before you begin to notice their beneficial effects, both to your body and soul. 

At Arianrhod Aromatics, we wish you a healthy and peaceful life using organic products that have proven effective, both through history and modern research.

Aromatherapy and Skincare, The Natural Partners


The use of 100% pure essential oils in skincare and other products offers a multitude of benefits to both mind and body. It is no secret that essential oils have been utilised in skincare, perfumes and cosmetics, since their discovery in early times. In this article we examine why this practice continues today and how using 100% pure essential oils in this manner contributes to health and wellbeing in so many ways.

First, lets take a look at the word ‘aromatherapy’. Dictionaries variously define it as “the use of fragrances to affect or alter a person’s mood or behaviour” and “the use of fragrant essential oils as a treatment in alternative medicine, often to relieve tension”. However, I think this word bears closer examination. One of the best-known ways aromatherapy works is with our sense of smell. But how does the olfactory nerve actually utilise and access the benefits of aromas?

The most obvious and best-understood way the nasal passage absorbs the aromas, is via inhalation of vapours that rapidly absorb into the bloodstream through the capillaries of the lungs, thereby imparting physiological benefits. A common example of this is the relief most people with respiratory congestion experience when they inhale eucalyptus oil vapour. In skincare, this offers a double benefit, as in the example of an essential oil scented body lotion that both nourishes the skin and is inhaled and absorbed into the bloodstream.

However, there is also the psychological effect to account for. Two olfactory nerve tracts connect directly to the limbic system in the brain. This is the part of the brain is concerned with emotion and memories. Throughout history the folklore handed down to us has reported so many perceived effects of scents on our psyche such as rose, which has the reputation of being associated with love; beauty and spiritual depth. The associations between essential oils and the effect they have on the mind are now better-understood and often still ring true today.

But there is even more to aromatherapy and the therapeutic qualities of essential oils, we need not rely upon the nose alone. Essential oils also absorb into the skin and can enter the bloodstream via topical applications. The benefits of essential oils used in this manner include aiding circulation; relieving aching joints and muscles; boosting immunity, and clearing the respiratory system, just to name a few.

Plus of course, there is the therapeutic benefit essential oils impart to the skin itself, including but not limited to acting as an anti-fungal; anti-inflammatory; deodorant; antibacterial and parasiticide. Yet we have not even touched on probably best known use of essential oils in skincare: the soothing, hydrating, nourishing, cleansing and many other benefits they can impart to the skin.

The use of aromatherapy in skincare works on a myriad of levels. Psychologically to calm, harmonise, uplift and/or invigorate the mind. Physiologically to soothe, relieve, purify and boost immunity. Therefore, using pure essential oils in our skincare is one of the best ways to reap the advantages they offer on every level: you not only enjoy the aroma but also benefit from it. Plus you not only nourish the skin’s surface but the active properties absorb into the deeper tissues and circulate the bloodstream, where they can work their magic.