CPAP And Aromatherapy : Essential Oils for Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea Essential Oils CPAP

Essential oils are widely used as an alternative treatment for many conditions. Everything from skin inflammations such as eczema and psoriasis through to hair loss and even gastrointestinal issues are often relieved or resolved through the use of various essential oils. But can it help with sleep apnea? Can it be used with CPAP?

I will go over ways that essential oils can be used with a CPAP and help with sleep apnea.

What Are Essential Oils?

Quite simply, essential oils are deeply concentrated liquids that are extracted from a variety of plants. The most common extraction methods are distillation and cold-pressing and there are hundreds are different essential oils available, all with their own health benefits.

Aside from providing relief from certain physical conditions, it is widely believed that essential oils have the power to improve mental health conditions and induce a feeling of relaxation – for this reason, they are often used in aromatherapy for conditions such as stress, anxiety and depression.

But where does sleep apnea fit into this? Let’s explore the link a little more closely.

Essential Oils And Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is caused by an obstruction in the airway, as most of you will already be aware, this obstruction causes the person to stop breathing during their sleep which at best can cause disruption to sleep and at worse can pose serious risks to your health.

But the good news is that through the use of certain essential oils, respiratory problems can be effectively addressed. What’s more many of those struggling with sleep apnea may find that their mental state is affected, either through the effects of fatigue or through depression as a result of their condition. However, as we mentioned, essential oils can play an active role in reducing the symptoms of certain mental health conditions.

With this in mind, we may be able to use essential oils to improve sleep apnea and reduce the obstruction within the airway. What’s even more interesting is that because of the relaxing properties of many essential oils, drifting off to sleep may become much easier.

Where’s The Proof?

It’s easy to throw around the claim that oil from a plant has the ability to yield such dramatic results but when we look at the various studies that have been completed, we begin to see that essential oils do have these capabilities.

One study, which took place in France used essential oils in an attempt to aid the sleep of premature babies, in particular, vanilla oil. With what we have learned so far, it comes as little surprise that the symptoms of sleep apnea in these children were significantly reduced.

Which Essential Oils Work Best?

If you head to your local aromatherapy supplier, you will be confronted with literally hundreds of different oils, some of which you will be familiar with such as lavender, peppermint or vanilla but other you may have never heard of – clary sage, cypress and helichrysum to name a few. But which ones work best for patients with sleep apnea?

  • Lavender oil has been used for many years as a way of promoting relaxation and it is one of those commonly used to treat sleep apnea. In addition to this, it is thought that lavender may also be able to reduce snoring and therefore, limit sleep episodes and disruption to your sleep.
  • Peppermint has a potent aroma that penetrates the airways and makes breathing much easier as it can ease nasal congestion and inflammation making this an ideal oil for those whose sleep apnea is caused this way.
  • Vanilla, as we have learned, is ideal for sleep apnea since it promotes good respiratory health but also, it effectively induces relaxation and reduces tension making it much easier to fall asleep in the first instance.
  • Lemon essential oil is believed to reduce snoring which is one of the common symptoms of sleep apnea. In addition to this, it has a refreshing scent that may reduce stress.
  • Valerian is frequently used for its relaxation purposes and it is thought that those with sleep apnea may benefit from using the oil as a way to wind down before going to sleep at night.
  • Thyme essential oil is one of the most favoured for use in the reduction of snoring, making it an ideal night-time companion for suffers of sleep apnea. The oil is responsible for maintaining good respiratory health as well as being excellent at promoting other aspects of health including your immune system and the health of your central nervous system – both of which can play a part in sleep apnea.
  • Eucalyptus oil is widely used as a way of combating nasal decongestion which makes it excellent for those struggling with sleep apnea.

Can I Use Essential Oils In My CPAP Machine?

If you are looking to take advantage of the benefits that essential oils can bring where sleep apnea is concerned, your first thought might be that you could put it in the water tank of your CPAP machine. However, it is vital that you do not do this. There are ways in which you can use essential oils to relieve sleep apnea symptoms but putting them into your CPAP machine is not one of them.

One of the main reasons for this is that as the CPAP machine forces air into your airways and essential oils are present, the droplets may easily find their way into your lungs. It is widely recognised that ingesting essential oils in any way could be detrimental to your health. There are doctors in France who supervise and promote the oral ingestion of essential oils but for the rest of the world, this practice is largely discouraged.

In addition to this, your CPAP machine was not designed to work with essential oils and whilst they may be beneficial to the health of humans, there are not as useful to your machine and may cause significant damage to the device.

So, How Can I Use Essential Oils For Sleep Apnea?

Without placing essential oils directly into any part of your CPAP machine, you might think that it is impossible to use them with the equipment – but it is possible.

One of the best ways of inhaling essential oils is through a diffuser which can be purchased from a wealth of places including specialist aromatherapy stores and even online marketplaces like Amazon.

However, for users of a CPAP machine, a company called Pur-Sleep have created an entire system designed to allow the use of essential oils alongside your machine. Rather than putting the oils directly into your device, the system makes use of pads around the equipment which then fragrance the air.

The pads are placed in a tray where the air enters your CPAP machine so when air enters, the fragrance from the essential oil enters with it. It is then directly delivered to you without the risk of any droplets entering your body.

What Is Included?

When you decide to take advantage of this innovative new system, you will be able to choose from the twelve essential oil samples that are included in the starter pack. This is a great way to experiment with oils and work out which ones bring the best relief for you. Depending on the type of sleep apnea you have and any underlying causes will depend on which oil will be of most benefit to you.

In addition to the essential oils in the kit, you will get the pads to diffuse the oils and the tray we mentioned to place them in.

Do I Have To Use The Oils With My CPAP Machine?

For some people, the Pur-Sleep system we have just discussed may not be a viable option but there are many other ways in which you can benefit from essential oils.

One of the most common ways of inhaling the aroma of your chosen oil is to dab a small amount just outside the nostrils or on the chest. However, if you do not wish to use the oil directly on the skin, it is possible to put a small amount on your pillow or a handkerchief.

It is important to remember that if you are applying essential oils directly to the skin, a carrier oil should be used as essential oils when used neat can cause skin irritation.

Safe Use Of Essential Oils

As well as using a carrier oil when applying an essential oil to the skin, there are other safety points to consider to ensure you have the best experience with them.

  • If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should consult a doctor before using essential oils.
  • Some essential oils may deliver an adverse reaction when used alongside certain medical conditions or medications, for this reason, should speak to your doctor before using.
  • Essential oils should never be ingested. Ensure that you wash your hands after using the oils.
  • It is not recommended to use essential oils with children without consulting a medical professional.


For those who suffer from sleep apnea, the use of essential oils as a complementary therapy may be extremely beneficial with various oils providing relaxing properties and the ability to reduce nasal congestion and snoring.

Whilst essential oils cannot be directly added to a CPAP machine, there are systems available that allow CPAP users to inhale the aromas through their equipment, one such system has been developed by Pur-Sleep. However, there are other ways that essential oils can be used.

With such a wide range of essential oils known to have a positive effect on sleep apnea, there is a great opportunity to experiment and find out which oils best relieve your symptoms. It is, however, important to follow the safety guidelines of using essential oils to make sure that you gain the most benefit.


Dan was diagnosed with sleep apnea in 2017 when he was only 32 years old. He has been using a BIPAP machine for his treatment. He hopes to provide a patient's perspective on the sleep apnea experience. Dan lives in Tampa with his girlfriend and 2 dogs.

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