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Scents That Help You Sleep

Scents that help you sleep

Many people struggle with insomnia or other sleep disorders, and finding natural ways to improve sleep quality is becoming more and more popular. One such method is aromatherapy and essential oils, the use of scents to induce relaxation and sleep. In this article, we will explore the science behind scents and sleep, the top scents that help you sleep, and how to use aromatherapy to improve sleep quality.

The Science Behind Scents and Sleep

Just like our other senses, sleep plays a big role in how we smell things. It affects how sensitive we are to different smells and helps our brain store memories of these smells. But the interesting part is, smells can also affect our sleep. They can impact how quickly we fall asleep, the quality of our sleep, and how long we sleep.

Our bodies operate on a 24-hour internal clock known as the circadian rhythm, which controls not only our sleep-wake cycles but also the sensitivity of our senses, including smell. Our olfactory system is more receptive during the waking hours, which suggests an adaptive purpose — finding food and identifying danger. However, research shows that the quiet hours of sleep are not without olfactory influences, specific scents have been shown to induce relaxation and reduce anxiety, leading to better sleep quality and duration.

A recent study suggests that this interaction between smell and sleep could be due to a direct connection between the olfactory system (part of our brain that processes smells) and sleep regulatory nuclei, or indirectly because via odors affecting our state of alertness and how we breathe, which in turn can influence our sleep.

What’s even more interesting from the study was that our past experiences and beliefs about a certain smell seem to play a major role in how that smell affects our sleep, more so than any direct physical effects of the smell itself. For example, if we associate the scent of lavender with relaxation, it may help us fall asleep faster.

This two-way relationship between smell and sleep gives us exciting new possibilities. It can help us understand how sleep affects memory storage and could even lead to new, drug-free treatments for sleep disorders, using different smells.

How Our Sense of Smell Affects Sleep

The aroma molecules of certain scents can stimulate the release of neurotransmitters in the brain that promote feelings of relaxation and sleepiness. Additionally, scents can affect our physiological responses, such as reducing heart rate and blood pressure, and decreasing stress hormone levels.

For example, the scent of vanilla has been shown to have a calming effect on the brain, reducing anxiety and inducing relaxation. Similarly, the scent of jasmine has been found to have sedative properties, promoting a deeper and more restful sleep. The scent of lavender, perhaps the most well-known sleep-inducing scent, has been shown to decrease heart rate and blood pressure, leading to a more relaxed state. Even the unique scent of your partner can help you sleep better.

Best Scents That Help You Sleep

Just as a lullaby can soothe a baby to sleep, certain scents have the remarkable ability to calm our minds and lull us into a deep slumber. They form an integral part of aromatherapy, a holistic healing treatment that uses natural plant extracts to promote health and well-being. Here’s a closer look at some scents that can help you drift off into dreamland.


Perhaps the most well-known sleep-inducing scent is lavender. Known for its sweet floral aroma, lavender has been shown in multiple studies to promote sleep and relaxation. One study even found that lavender increased the quality of sleep in individuals suffering from insomnia.

How Does Lavender Help You Sleep?

Lavender works its magic by interacting with the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) to help quiet the brain and nervous system activity, reducing agitation, anger, aggression, and restlessness. As a result, it can help you fall asleep faster, sleep more soundly, and even increase your energy levels the next day.


Most of us know chamomile as a popular herbal tea, often recommended for its sleep-inducing properties. But did you know that the scent of chamomile is equally effective? The delicate, apple-like fragrance of chamomile has been found to help decrease anxiety and provide a tranquil environment conducive to sleep.

What Makes Chamomile Effective for Sleep?

The secret lies in a compound called apigenin, found in chamomile. This compound binds to specific receptors in your brain that may decrease anxiety and initiate sleep. It’s like a gentle, all-natural sleeping pill.


If you’ve ever enjoyed a cup of Earl Grey tea, then you’ve experienced the distinct aroma of bergamot. This citrusy scent has been shown to reduce anxiety and improve mood, making it another great addition to your sleep-friendly scent collection.

Why Does Bergamot Aid Sleep?

Bergamot essential oil is rich in flavonoids, compounds that are well known for their calming properties. They act as a natural relaxant to the body and mind, reducing nervous tension, anxiety, and stress, all of which can interfere with a peaceful sleep.


Jasmine is a unique and beautiful flower with an equally stunning scent. The sweet, exotic fragrance of jasmine has been found to have a calming effect on the body, promoting feelings of relaxation and tranquility. It can also help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.

How does Jasmine Help You Sleep?

Similar to lavender, the aroma of jasmine has been found to increase levels of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. In fact, a study in Germany found that, of all the scents they tested, jasmine fragrance increased the GABA effect by more than five times, making the scents as powerful as some pharmaceutical drugs.

How to Use Scents for Sleep

Adding these calming scents to your sleep routine is easy. Here are a few different ways to incorporate scents into your bedtime routine.

Essential Oil Diffusers

One of the easiest and most popular ways to use scents for sleep is with an essential oil diffuser. These devices disperse the scent throughout the room, allowing you to breathe in the aroma and enjoy its sleep-inducing benefits. Simply add a few drops of your chosen essential oil to the diffuser reservoir, and let it run for a few hours before bed. You can even set a timer on the diffuser so that it turns off automatically after a certain amount of time.

Scented Candles

If you prefer a cozier ambience, scented candles are a good option. Not only do they provide a warm and inviting glow, but they can also help you relax and unwind. Look for candles made with natural, high-quality essential oils, and avoid those made with synthetic fragrances, which can be harmful to your health. Place the candle on a safe surface, away from anything flammable, and don’t forget to blow it out before falling asleep.

Pillow Sprays

Pillow sprays are a convenient and direct way to apply scents for sleep. These sprays are designed to be sprayed directly onto your pillow or bedding, so that you can inhale the aroma as you sleep. Look for sprays made with natural ingredients and avoid those with harsh, synthetic fragrances.

Scented Sachets or Eye Masks

Scented sachets are a subtle way to enjoy the benefits of aromatherapy. These small, fragrant bags are filled with dried herbs, flowers, or essential oils, and can be placed in various locations around your bedroom. Simply place a sachet filled with your favorite scent in your pillowcase or nightstand drawer. This will allow the aroma to gently infuse the air and promote relaxation as you drift off to sleep.

Final Thoughts on Scents that Help You Sleep

In our fast-paced world, good sleep often eludes us, and it’s refreshing to discover that the solution can be as simple and enjoyable as immersing ourselves in the right scents. The harmonious blend of nature’s own calming aromas—lavender, chamomile, bergamot, and jasmine—provides an effective and holistic way to ease into a deep, restful slumber. As we incorporate these delightful fragrances into our bedtime routines, we are not only improving our sleep quality but also enhancing our overall well-being.

As we embark on this journey of nocturnal aromatherapy, it’s a good reminder learn how to use essential oils safely and responsibly, and in tune with our bodies’ responses. In embracing these scents, we are not just creating a tranquil sleep environment but also crafting a sensory experience that soothes our minds, calms our spirits, and takes us a step closer to nature’s nurturing touch.

Here’s to creating sleep sanctuaries that fill our nights with calm and our days with vitality. After all, sleep is not just a routine, it’s a ritual, and what better way to honor it than with nature’s own lullabies.

You might also like: Discover the Best Scent for Your Bedroom and How to Have a Lucid Dream Tonight.