I read an article regarding the use of aromatherapy in improving sleep quality, and the research found that inhalation was more effective than massage in inducing / improving sleep quality.
From my point of view, I believe that massage has an upper hand over inhalation.
If you have the chance of making an inhaler, you will notice that the standard application of essential oils is 15 drops neat (pure). You won’t apply 15 drops of essential oils to massage for safety reason, as the dilution is usually at 1-3%.
If you use a diffuser to enhance your sleep, the standard application is 10 drops of essential oils; by the same token, you won’t apply 10 drops of neat essential oils to massage your body at one time.
How can you tell whether inhalation is more effective than massage even you use the same oils?
In formulating a blend, not everyone has the “expertise” in this art. You may use the calming blend like lavender, chamomile in your formulation. However, is the blend effective enough as people with different degree of insomnia may have different need? People with illness may need a stronger blend than people who are healthy. One of the blends that the article talks about is using lavender, chamomile, and cypress. But, would it be better if cypress is replaced with sandalwood, and adding Jasmine as extra elements? Besides, to enhance the penetration of the blend for better absorption to the skin, you may want to add, for example, lemon.
With some adjustments to the blend, the whole effects may be totally different. Also, the dilution is very important when you formulate the blend as mentioned above. People like to use the calming lavender alone (which is also mentioned in the article) to induce sleep. Lavender alone can be effective – as my clients and I have tried. The questions are (a) where are you going to apply it and (b) Is it neat or diluted (and the percent dilution)?
When you use massage as a means to enhance sleep, a side benefit is that circulation can be improved. Besides, you are inhaling the essential oils when the client is receiving massage. The difference is the concentration of essential oils.
If it is the case, how can one compare the effectiveness as we are comparing apple to orange, not apple to apple. To conclude, your expertise or choice of essential oils in formulation determines the effectiveness of your blend, so as where you apply your blend.