A Scent That Can Help You Sleep

Smell your way to deeper sleep with lavender

When trying to improve the quality of their sleep, people tend to focus on three primary senses, sight, sound and touch, but should smell also have a place of importance?

Sleep Checklist:

✔ Eye mask

✔ Earplugs

Weighted blankets


One of the most common scents utilized for sleep aid purposes is lavender. Lavender is believed to have many properties that help individuals relax, acting as an anxiolytic (a drug class that reduces anxiety) and mood stabilizer.1

Lavender essential oil is especially prominent in the relaxation sphere, used in spaces like spas or meditation rooms, diffused in the air, or infusing items like damp towels. This essential oil has also been investigated as a therapy for anxiety and a broad range of neurological disorders because its primary two components,2 linalool and linalyl acetate, are believed to have mild sedative effects.3

Thanks to lavender's soothing qualities, this purple plant is an ideal tool for those who need extra help relaxing and turning off their mind as they fall asleep. One study on a group of college students experiencing sleep problems found that those who used a lavender inhalation patch over the course of five nights reported better sleep than the control group.4 Another study found that when participants were exposed to lavender oil, they recorded a higher amount of deep sleep waves and reported feeling more energized in the morning, potentially as a by-product of achieving more deep sleep.5

While lavender's usefulness will vary person-to-person and is not a fix-all solution for sleep disorders, it can be another helpful health hack to try if you want to build out your sleep checklist.

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  1. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Lavender and the nervous system. Accessed July 17, 2023.
  2. The Mental Health Clinician. Essential oil of lavender in anxiety disorders: Ready for prime time? Accessed July 17, 2023. 
  3. Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand. The Effects of Lavender Oil Inhalation on Emotional States, Autonomic Nervous System, and Brain Electrical Activity. Accessed July 17, 2023.
  4. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Effect of Inhaled Lavender and Sleep Hygiene on Self-Reported Sleep Issues: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Accessed July 17, 2023.
  5. The Journal of Biological and Medical Rhythm Research. An Olfactory Stimulus Modifies Nighttime Sleep in Young Men and Women. Accessed July 17, 2023.