Scents have been widely used for relaxation and as natural sleep aids since the medieval ages. However, recent studies have shown that their uses are not just grounded in myth, but scientific fact. As each scent has a different effect on your body individual studies have been done on each. Three of the most popular fragrances which studies have shown to aid relaxation are lavender, vanilla and jasmine.
Lavender is a purple flowering plant that is a member of the mint family. Its distinct floral scent is instantly recognisable, featuring in numerous soaps and perfumes. However, the lavender fragrance isn’t just used for its ability to add a beautiful scent to bath and body products. The fragrance also has the ability to positively modify your sleep patterns. A study conducted by the Department of Psychology in Wesleyan University, Connecticut showed that lavender has the ability to increase the percentage of stage three sleep that the average person experiences. Stage three is the stage of deep sleep, during which your brain waves slow down. It is necessary to replenish your energy levels and accordingly, the participants in the trial reported they felt energetic and well-rested the morning after the lavender inhalation. An additional study published in Phytomedicine, 2010, showed that lavender can also relieve general anxiety disorder, which affects rivalling benzodiazepines, a common drug treatment. An American sensory psychologist, Avery Gilbert, suggests that the reason for this is that the lavender scent decreases your heart rate, in turn placing you in a state of relaxation.
Vanilla is the only edible species of the orchid family and has a sweet, comforting scent. However, it doesn’t only smell fantastic, it also has anti-depressant properties due to the ingredient vanillin. A study from Manipal University, India tested the properties of vanillin on mice and the results were the same as had they been administered with the anti-depressant Fluoxetine. A similar study at the Tubingen University in Germany showed that vanilla fragrance reduced the human startle reflex as it placed the subjects in a calmer state of mind. Therefore, vanilla aromas can lift your mood and help you to relax before sleep, allowing you to drift off with an easier mind.
Jasmine is a delicate, white flowering plant which new research shows maybe even more effective than lavender in aiding a good night’s sleep. According to a study done by Dr. Bryan Raudenbush, a professor of psychology from the Wheeling Jesuit University, inhaling jasmine scents lead to deeper sleep levels and reduced sleep movement when compared to lavender. The participants of the study also rated their levels of anxiety lower and their mood higher. An article published in Science Daily, explored this theory further, citing research that the fragrance of jasmine relaxed users to the same extent as barbiturates, otherwise known as “sleeping pills”.
We at the Natural Sleep Company hope you’ve found this blog post useful in your quest to achieving a good night’s rest! For more expert sleep information, stay tuned to our blog for upcoming posts.