Need some extra help in the sleep department? Some folks have a very easy time falling asleep naturally, but for others, it can be a real hassle. If you didn’t get a full 8 hours of blissful, uninterrupted sleep last night, don’t immediately reach for herbal supplements and melatonin pills – consider upping your home flora game instead!

You probably know that certain herbs such as chamomile and lavender can help you sleep better when you consume them, but did you know that keeping certain houseplants can also ensure you catch those precious ZZZs? Houseplants aid sleep by improving air quality, raising the oxygen levels in the room and emitting moisture to combat sinus issues and ensure easier breathing while you snooze. Here are our top 8 plants for the bedroom to help you sleep like a baby.

How Houseplants Aid Sleep?

Houseplants are mostly known for their ability to purify the air and help you breathe better. However, some plants, apart from their air-cleaning properties, also come with other relaxing traits, that can be really useful for getting a more peaceful and healthier snooze.[1] The interesting part is that each plant helps in different ways. For example, some plants such as Aloe Vera and Spider plants, release a lot of oxygen and absorb the carbon dioxide we exhale during the day which is great for purifying the air and helping you breathe more comfortable in the evening.[2]

Houseplants are also very good at absorbing common VOCs (volatile organic compounds) such as trichloroethylene, benzene, formaldehyde, xylene, and ammonia. Let’s take a quick look where can these VOCs be found.

  1. Trichloroethylene – an industrial product found in paints, dry cleaning, and adhesives.
  2. Benzene – a common solvent found in gasoline, oils, rubbers, and plastics.
  3. Formaldehyde – a water-soluble organic compound found in grocery bags, cleaning agents, and paper towels.
  4. Xylene – a chemical found in tobacco smoke, rubber, paint, and vehicle exhaust.
  5. Ammonia – commonly found in household cleaners, floor wax, and fertilizers.

Other plants, such as lavender, jasmine, and gardenia, apart from purifying the air and absorbing VOCs, release relaxing aromas that particularly help with reducing anxiety, relieving stress and helping you get a more peaceful night’s rest. To enjoy the healing and relaxing aromas of different herbs, you don’t need to diffuse essential oils or create incense – housing live plants in your bedroom is enough.

Sounds too easy or too good to be true? As always, Counting Sheep backs up everything with science!  One of the first studies that examined the benefits of houseplants was done in 1989 by NASA, and the research was focused on finding out how some houseplants purify indoor air.[3]

In the Journal of Physiological Anthropology, researchers have found out that the plant known as vining pepper improves workers’ moods when introduced to a work environment. The study suggests that indoor houseplants can reduce physiological and psychological stress, and evoke calmness.[4]

Lastly, another study showed that flowering and foliage plants improve the health of recovering surgical patients, especially when it comes to reducing their fatigue and anxiety levels.[5] According to the results of the study, indoor plants may decrease the patients’ needs for medicines, help them cope better with stress and pain, and promote positive physiological responses, as well as more positive feelings.

Now let’s take a look at the top 8 best plants for sleep.

Aloe Vera – Best Plant for Improving Air Quality

Listed as one of NASA’s top air-improving plants, the fantastic Aloe Vera aids sleep by emitting oxygen at night, ensuring you are breathing easier and making you more room for a peaceful slumber.  It’s also great for purifying VOCs such as benzene and formaldehyde.

When it comes to maintenance, it’s very easy to grow and tolerates neglect well. It doesn’t need a lot of direct sunlight and frequent watering, so it’s perfect if you are a student, employed, or simply someone who doesn’t have much free time.

Known in Egypt as the plant of immortality, it reproduces quickly and easily, meaning that if you buy one, you can easily have an Aloe for all the rooms in the house. Apart from helping you sleep better, you can use the gel from its leaves to treat minor cuts or burns, insect bites, and much more. Considering all its benefits, it’s a must-have plant in every home.

Jasmine – Best Plant for Relaxation

Jasmine flowers are known for their sweet smell, that is often found in perfumes, candles, shower gels, hydrating milk and so on. The pleasant aroma of this exotic plant has a calming effect on the body and mind. Studies show that it reduces anxiety, helping you to cope better with stress or anxiety-related insomnia.[6]

Jasmine is an effective sleep aid specifically because of its sweet fragrance, and multiple studies have found that sleeping in a room with this plant improves sleep quality.[7] To take proper care of your Jasmin plants, ensure they get direct sunlight during summer and spring. During winter avoid direct sunlight. Watering is very simple – just make sure the soil remains moist.

Lavender – Best Plant for Deeper Sleep

Who doesn’t love the scent of lavender? Lavender is definitely one of the most well-known plants that induce sleep and reduces anxiety and stress levels.[8] Research shows that lavender scent slows down your heart rate, and lowers your blood pressure, making you feel more relaxed and calm.[9]

According to a 2013 study in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, lavender aromatherapy improved the sleep quality in multiple study participants among which were healthy students, ischemic heart disease patients, and women suffering from insomnia. Also, taking lavender oil orally at the dose of 80mg per day increased the quality and duration of sleep among patients who struggled with mixed anxiety disorder.[10]

Lastly, one study shows that the smell of lavender is so pleasant that it even calmed down crying babies[11] and sent them into deeper sleep – this is something definitely all new mothers will be glad to hear!

While there is a host of lavender scented products on the market that can help you get a good night’s rest, why wouldn’t you simply go for the most natural and cost-effective option, and that’s to place a beautiful lavender plant right on your nightstand.

Snake Plant – Best Plant for Air Purification

Snake plant, similar to Aloe is considered one of the best houseplants for improving indoor air quality. Japanese researchers that have published their study in the Journal for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN found that this plant absorbs various hazardous chemicals, leaving indoor spaces safer and a lot cleaner. The Snake plant is best for filtering nasty household toxins such as formaldehyde, trichloroethylene and benzene from the air.

Gardenias – Best Plant for Relieving Anxiety

Gardenias have glossy green leaves and beautifully scented blossoms, which makes them a very popular plant choice for bedrooms. Studies show that keeping this houseplant in your bedroom improves air quality, promotes better sleep and relieves anxiety. Particularly, the results show that one of the carotenoids found in Gardenia, called Crocetin, improved sleep quality in men who suffered from problems associated with sleep, with no additional side effects.[12]

The only downside is that gardenias can be a bit difficult to maintain. In order to keep their delicate leaves and flowers, you have to keep it on bright, but indirect sunlight, and regularly spray its leaves and soil with water. If you suffer from insomnia or anxiety, investing a bit of your time of taking care of this plant could be a much better and healthier solution to taking sleep pills.

Spider Plant – Best Plant for Filtering VOCs

Spider plant, similar to snake plant is also considered one of the best houseplants for filtering VOCs, and its air-cleaning properties and health benefits have been scientifically confirmed. According to NASA tests, spider plant has the ability to remove 90% of chemicals like benzene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, and xylene from the air.[13] Since formaldehyde is found in many common household products, it’s a good idea to keep one of these plants around. Apart from cleaning the air and improving the oxygen levels in your bedroom, this plant is also great for absorbing fumes and odors.

Spider plants are very easy to maintain, making them perfect for busy owners who don’t have time to provide constant care. The only thing this houseplant needs is well-drained soil and indirect light. Spider plants don’t like to be overwatered and prefer cooler temperatures (anywhere from 55 to 65 F).

Valerian – Best Plant for Inducing Sleep

The Valerian is a flowering plant known for its beautifully scented pink or white flowers that bloom in the summer. The plant doesn’t take much space, and its long stalks and colorful flowers will be a wonderful addition to any bedroom.

The blossoms are used as a perfume since the 16th century, while the root has been used for tea or tincture since ancient times. It’s an interesting fact that a Roman physician and philosopher named Galen prescribed Valerian for insomnia. Today, research has proven that Galen was right and that valerian root can indeed alleviate sleep issues.[14] When it comes to this plant’s sleep-inducing properties, the effect comes from a number of chemicals, specifically isovaleric acid and valepotriates that help to relax the muscles and the central nervous system.[15]

Valerian is so powerful that inhaling its scent is enough for falling asleep faster and enjoying a more peaceful night’s rest.

To take proper care of your Valerian, make sure it receives a lot of sunlight and water it enough to keep the soil moist.

Peace Lily – Best Plant for Increasing Humidity

Apart from looking exceptional and being amazing air cleaners,[16] Peace lilies can also increase room humidity by up to 5%. Increased humidity is not only great for easier breathing during sleep, but also for getting rid of any impurities and airborne microbes that could disturb your rest. Studies show that sleeping with peace lilies helps to decrease one’s susceptibility to colds and respiratory illness.[17]

To take proper care of this plant, keep it in a shady spot and water it once a week, best when top inches of the soil seems dry.

The Bottom Line

And that’s it! According to our research, those were the 8 best plants for sleep!

Among some of our honorable mentions are English Ivy, Pothos, Passion Flower, Bamboo Palm, Chinese Evergreen, and Dracaena.

As you can see, there definitely isn’t a lack of houseplants that can be used to aid you in your sleep. They add warmth, relaxing fragrance and effectively increase oxygen levels in your room, thus ensuring a restful slumber. Add one of them in your bedroom to get your own little dose of zen.

Resources and References

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3230460/

[2] https://www.researchgate.net/publication/319979551_Role_of_Plants_in_Indoor_Air_Remediation

[3] https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/19930073077.pdf

[4] https://jphysiolanthropol.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40101-015-0060-8

[5] https://journals.ashs.org/horttech/view/journals/horttech/18/4/article-p563.xml

[6] http://article.sapub.org/10.5923.j.health.20170704.01.html

[7] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100708104320.htm

[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6007527/

[9] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3612440/

[10] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5878871/

[11] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18053656

[12] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20537515

[13] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC159294/

[14] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10761819

[15]https://www.researchgate.net/publication/274411047_Biomedically_relevant_chemical_constituents_of_Valeriana_officinalis

[16]https://www.researchgate.net/publication/250005457_Purification_Effects_of_Golden_Pothos_and_Peace_Lily_for_Indoor_Air-Pollutants_and_its_Application_to_a_Real_Environment

[17] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4258716/

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