Do Aromas Help You Sleep?

You might not know it, but there is a relationship between smell and sleep. Some scents help you doze off and promote better sleep, while others stimulate you to wake up in the morning. Read ahead to learn about aromatherapy and how it can help you sleep better! 


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What Is Aromatherapy? 

Aromatherapy is a holistic practice that uses the scent of natural plant extracts to improve conditions like pain, anxiety, and depression . Aromatherapy is also helpful to promote relaxation and improve sleep quality. 


Essential oils are liquids made from plant extracts and can be used in different ways. First, you can spray them in the air by, for example, using a diffuser. You can also add drops of essential oil to your bath. According to the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy, it is best to use a minimum of two drops, but you can go up to twelve.


Finally, you can mix the essential oil with a carrier oil, like rosehip, and then apply it directly onto the skin. Do not apply essential oils to your skin without using carrier oil because they are very potent substances. They can cause irritation and even burns if they are not adequately diluted before application. 


You can use the principles of aromatherapy to create a bedroom environment that is more conducive to sleep. Different smells promote relaxation and help reduce stress and anxiety, commonly associated with insomnia. 


The Best Scents for Sleep 

There are a variety of scents that can help with sleep. The holistic community does not promote one over the other because each scent can work differently depending on the individual. If you want to use aromatherapy to sleep better, you should try a few and see which one works better for you. To help you get started, here is a list of scents that are known to improve sleep: 



Lavender is probably the most studied of all the essential oils. Multiple studies have concluded an association between the smell of lavender and improved sleep. It has powerful calming effects and can even decrease your heart rate and blood pressure. It is also one of the best essential oils to help reduce anxiety symptoms.


Many products can help you transform your bedroom into a lavender field! For example, you can buy lavender pillow spray, lavender mist, and lavender candles. You can also purchase lavender sachets to place in your pajama drawer so that you smell of lavender when going to bed.  



Jasmine has a floral scent, and studies indicate that it improves sleep quality. More specifically, it reduces restlessness and improves sleep efficiency. Basically, it increases the amount of time a person spends sleeping every night. As mentioned above, lavender oil is beneficial to relieve anxiety symptoms and promote sleep, but a 2002 study showed that jasmine could be even more effective!  


You can use jasmine essential oil, but you can also place a jasmine plant by your bed to help you relax at night.  



Not only does rose essential oil smell amazing, but it has relaxing properties that can help you sleep better at night. Research also shows that the scent of roses calms down anxiety and relieves stress. It can give you the peace of mind you need to get a good night's sleep.


Although it is beneficial for sleep quality, rose essential oil is quite expensive. You can use rose water as a cheaper alternative. It contains around 10 to 50% of rose essential oil but can still provide you with the same benefits. 



You often hear of chamomile tea, but the plant is also found in essential oils. A study was done in managed healthcare care settings and found that applying chamomile essential oil to patients' pillows increased their sleeping time.

Chamomile is also great at relieving stress and helps you clear your mind before bed.



Bergamot is a citrus essential oil derived from the bergamot orange, native to Italy. Italians traditionally used bergamot to treat fever, infections, and sore throats. 

A recent study on women found that inhaling bergamot essential oil decreases cortisol levels. Cortisol is a hormone produced during stressful situations, and it puts your body into a fight-or-flight mode. Consequently, reducing cortisol levels helps decrease symptoms of anxiety and promotes relaxation. A 2017 review confirmed those findings and found that bergamot could help people feel less stressed and fall asleep quicker. 


Aroma - Coffee

The Best Scents to Help You Wake Up 

You can use aromatherapy to fall asleep, but also to wake up in the morning. On the days you feel particularly tired, you can even use these scents to get a boost of energy and get through the day: 


A good cup of coffee is what most people need to start their day, but the smell alone also has benefits. Indeed, it gives you the same increase in energy as drinking coffee would, but without the crash most people experience after consuming caffeine. Some studies also suggest that smelling coffee can increase alertness and improve memory.


If you want to cut down on your caffeine consumption or if you are not a fan of the taste of coffee, you could carry some coffee essential oil with you. You could also bring some coffee beans in a small jar if you cannot get your hands on essential oil. This way, you will be able to get your boost of energy no matter where you are!  


Peppermint essential oil has been used for years for its cooling properties. You can apply it topically to relieve itching, muscle pain, and even headaches. More recent research showed that peppermint oil also has the power to increase memory and alertness. 


If you are not feeling very sharp before an important work presentation or before an exam, you can apply or smell some peppermint oil for a little extra help.  



Ginger is a powerful ingredient to fight off nausea, and it also has anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties.

Ginger is also excellent for digestion and can quickly relieve an upset stomach. If you struggle to stay awake after a big meal, ginger essential oil could help you.


Citrus oils are very versatile and can be helpful to relieve the symptoms caused by many health issues. It is also very effective at fighting sleepiness.

While there are many kinds of citrus oil, lemon and sweet orange are the best at waking you up. Indeed, a study found that lemon oil could increase heart rate and improve performance in participants. As for sweet orange oil, research suggests that it improves breathing and athletic performance, making it the perfect oil to use before participating in an athletic event.

Aroma - Essential Oils

Combining Different Aromas 

If you cannot decide which oil to use, why not combine them? This way, you can enjoy the benefits of different oils simultaneously. 

The first blend you could try is peppermint, basil, and helichrysum. Some researchers found that this specific combo of oils could reduce mental exhaustion and burnout in participants. Therefore, it could be especially helpful if you feel like you are running out of energy consistently.

Another great blend to try is sweet orange and rose. This one is especially powerful because you could feel more relaxed and comfortable only 90 seconds after inhaling the blend. 

Finally, you can try mixing lemon, eucalyptus, tea tree, and peppermint. This blend's benefits include reduced stress, higher sleep quality, and improvement of depressive symptoms. 

Do aromas help you sleep?

Choosing the Right Essential Oils 

Now that we have gone over the benefits of multiple essential oils, you might want to give aromatherapy a try. Before running out to the store to purchase essential oils, here are a few things you should know. 

First, the purity of the oil is important. You want it to contain only aromatic plant compounds and be free of additives or synthetic oils. A good trick is to look at the name of the product. Pure essential oils will often list the plant's botanical name. For example, it will say "Lavendula officinalis" instead of "lavender essential oil."


You also want to invest in a high-quality essential oil, meaning oil very little modified by the extraction process. Distillation or mechanical cold pressing are the two methods yielding the best oil. Some companies have better reputations than others, so you might want to research them a little before investing in an essential oil kit. 


Final Thoughts 

More and more research highlights the benefits of smell on sleep and alertness. By using the right scents, like lavender or jasmine, you can fall asleep faster and get a more restful night. You can also use aromatherapy to feel more invigorated in the morning and get the energy you need to complete your daily activities. In these cases, coffee and sweet orange essential oils might be better.