Does the smell of fresh baked cookies automatically make you hungry? Maybe the scent of a certain perfume floods you with memories of your grandmother. The power of smell is an increasingly popular area of research for scientists as they study ways in which certain scents can evoke a range of emotional and physical responses, even falling asleep or staying asleep. Medical researchers are further discovering the chemistry behind why and how certain smells can ease pain, reduce anxiety, and improve sleep. Inexpensive and easy to introduce to a daily and nightly routine, there are an array of smells that can help you relax, plus make it easier for you to get to sleep and sleep more soundly.
These scents can be found in essential oils, concentrated formulations of aromatic plant compounds. To create essential oils, the leaves, seeds, and roots of each ingredient or plant are processed in a way that releases the strongest extracts. The resulting oil is then added to lotions, candles, sachets, and other home and bath products. This is exciting research for those who suffer from sleep difficulties and those who just want to easily and quickly fall asleep, which is all of us! If you’re looking to try out how essential oils will work for you in your own bedroom, these are some of the best scents to use:
#1 Lavender. Even if you haven’t heard much about essential oils, you are probably already aware of the connection between Lavender and sleep. This is the most popular essential oil for sleep and relaxation. A robust body of research shows Lavender has anxiety reducing effects, as well as beneficial effects on depression. Lavender also has sedative effects, meaning it can work directly to help you fall asleep. A number of studies point to Lavender’s effectiveness for sleep: improving sleep quality and increasing sleep amounts, including in people with insomnia.
#2 Vanilla. While Lavender is often the go-to essential oil for those looking to sleep better, it is far from the only one. Vanilla also has a long history of use for relaxation and stress relief. It can also have sedative effects on the body, by reducing hyperactivity and restlessness, quieting the nervous system, and lowering blood pressure. It also appears to help relieve anxiety and depression, serving to aid in both relaxation and providing an uplift in mood.
#3 Jasmine. A sweetly floral scent, Jasmine appears to have serious sleep-promoting capabilities as well. Research shows Jasmine improves sleep quality and cuts down on restless sleeping, as well as increasing daytime alertness. In fact, a study done in 2002 showed that Jasmine delivered all of these sleep benefits, as well as lowering anxiety, even more effectively than Lavender!
#4 Mexican Bay Leaf. Sometimes, you can’t fall asleep and it has nothing to do with being tired or not. Our mood impacts our ability to fall asleep and stay asleep in a big way. Along with the essential oils believed to directly impact sleep, several other oils, such as Mexican Bay Leaf, may have mood-enhancing effects. Mexican Bay Lead indirectly improves sleep by decreasing feelings of depression.
#5 A Combination of Several. Can’t pick just one? You don’t have to! Interestingly, while one essential oil can be beneficial to sleep, studies are showing that a combination of several oils may be even better! A blend of multiple essential oils, for instance Clary Sage, Marjoram, and Lavender, was found to be more effective at improving sleep quality than only Lavender oil.
Too often, scents get overlooked as a tool for better sleep. Of course, there is no guarantee that using essential oils will get you to sleep through the night, but there’s little downside to trying them. At the very least, your bedroom will smell wonderful! Choose your favorite scent and the best way to experience it, like lotion or a candle, lay down in your PranaSleep bed and drift peacefully into a deep slumber.