It is said that we spend or at least should spend about 1/3 of our life sleeping. Statistically speaking that means we spend as much or more time in our beds and bedrooms as we do anywhere else, so it is important to make sure that our sleep environment is promoting health in as many ways as possible. The comfort we feel in our bedroom environment has a direct impact on the quality of our sleep, which can help increase the length of the hours we get each night. Our focus needs to be on getting restorative sleep.
When it comes to evaluating your sleep environment, I always follow the senses- sight, touch, taste, hear and smell. When evaluating our health, the things around us could be playing a larger role than we realize, starting with the quality of air in our home. Add to it living in an area like Buffalo, NY where the seasons are short and we are indoors more than out and you can easily overlook how the things in your home can be the culprits of health issues, including what could be affecting the quality of your sleep.
Have you ever noticed how on vacation you get a better night’s sleep? It could have to do with the release of stress but the quality of the air could also play a role. Indoor air can be stale in part to modern synthetic materials and temperature regulation, it also contains pollutants and is often well below recommended humidity levels. In addition, poor air quality from pollution, odors and molds can impact our breathing. Wall paint, synthetic furniture and electronics can pump chemical toxins into the air, while air conditioning and heating dry the air. This is where plants can be a great addition to our home and sleep environment! They not only oxygenate your home, and release humidity into the air but help clear out these toxins that could be causing everything from issues with allergies and coughs to headaches. But not all are created equal, so let’s break down the best plants for sleep and how much effort each one will take to help clean up the quality of air in your home.
(Please know that you should always be mindful of plants around pets and children as some can be toxic if ingested)
First up are those that have been clinically proven to have a calming and relaxing effect.
A favorite for many issues but most common for its ability to induce sleep and reduce anxiety levels. Although it is considered a high maintenance plant, as it needs lots of natural light. As its smell is the most most useful property for sleep, diffusing a lavender oil is a great alternative than trying to maintain one.
In a study conducted by the Wheeling Jesuit University it was proven to work as a natural sleeping aid. Its positive effects include increasing the quality of sleep one gets, decreasing anxiety, an improved mood upon wakening and increased alertness throughout the day. This plant has a sweet aroma that is particularly fragrant at night. Although this plant also needs lots of care, including cool temperatures and the right location where its sunlight can be regulated. It also should be taken outdoors during the Summer months as part of its maintenance to help it thrive.
This low maintenance plant is not only attractive and one of nature’s best healers but did you know that it can also help eradicate polluting chemicals found in cleaning agents, in turn purifying the air in your bedroom and the rest of your house? When harmful chemicals are at a high level in your home, the plant also works as a warning signal developing brown spots, keeping you well informed of the situation. It promotes a good night sleep because of the levels of oxygen it omits making it a must have for anyone with sleep apnea.
Gardenia (Cape Jasmine)
This beautiful plant hosts glossy evergreen leaves and is also considered high maintenance but is worthy of it, as it has been used in place of sleep pills acting as an eco-friendly and natural solution to sleep issues. One study indicated that keeping one in your room may help you achieve a better quality of sleep, with claims that it may be as effective as Valium on a neurotransmitter known as GABA in relieving anxiety and promoting sleep.
This perennial flowering plant with its sweetly scented pink or white flowers is known for its ability to help with falling asleep quickly. Newer research has shown that simply inhaling it can help you enjoy a better quality of rest. In addition to keeping one on your bedroom window sill as it needs to be in the sunlight most of the day; It can also add to your bedtime routine by turning your bathroom into a relaxing oasis just by adding a few petals to your bathwater. It is also an herb often used in the creation of bedtime teas similar to our herbal tea “Knock me out” blend. Valerian is a popular alternative to prescription medications for sleep problems because it is considered to be both safe and gentle.
This low maintenance plant was rated the number one best air-purifying plant by NASA as it is the most efficient plant when absorbing formaldehyde. English ivy is also easy to grow and survives in moderate temperatures and medium sunlight exposure. The American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology reports that it is beneficial for those who suffer from asthma or breathing problems at night helping remove up to 94% of airborne feces and 78% of airborne mold. You should take caution with this plant as it is considered poisonous. Keep it away from pets and children.
This elegant plant not only wins in looks but helps in promoting sound slumber as it is another of NASA’s superstar plants, helping to filter out harmful benzene, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde toxins and whose flowers give off moisture boosting a room’s humidity by up to 5%. It also suppresses airborne microbes which helps relieve those irritating dry noses and throats that can keep you awake all night. A nice shady position (out of the reach of pets and children) and weekly watering is all the Peace Lily needs, not too much to ask in return for a great night’s sleep.
Bamboo Palm (Reed Palm)
This plant is not only easy to care for but works as a great air purifier clearing the air of airborne smells and toxins. Not only will you be able to enjoy your better air quality within your home during the day, but you’ll enjoy a better night’s sleep as well.
This low maintenance claims the title of most popular houseplant. It is a great hanging plant as the leaves drapes down in cascading vines. It requires little nurturing and needs low levels of sunlight, so it is the perfect choice for those with a busy schedule. Its ability to purify the air also means a better night’s sleep for you.
Not to be confused with the Snake Plant, this low maintenance plant is also a champion cleanser of air. NASA tests showed it to remove around 90% of the potentially cancer-causing chemical formaldehyde from the air. Since this toxin is found in common household products, it is a good idea to keep one of these plants around. In addition to cleansing the air, it will also absorb odors and fumes as well as sustaining oxygen levels in the room, promoting better sleep.
These bright and cheerful flowers not only promote happiness through their vibrant yellow, orange, red or white petals but also release oxygen at night making it easier to breathe while you snooze. People with sleep disorders find them the most helpful as do those that suffer from allergies. Although this plant does require special attention and specific watering and light levels.
Nicknamed Mother-in-Law’s Tongue, this low maintenance plant is perfect for the bedroom as it emits oxygen at night time while simultaneously taking in carbon dioxide. This leads to a purer quality of air and a better night’s sleep.
Red Edged Dracaena
Lastly this low maintenance plant also commonly known as the Spike Plant can grow up to 15 feet. That means it need adequate sunlight for optimal growth, something to consider before purchasing it. It works to also remove toxins like formaldehyde, xylene and trichloroethylene- all that are health-threatening toxins. The quality of indoor air purity has always been the best thing for a good night’s sleep. Cleaner air helps you to fall asleep easier and stay asleep longer throughout the night.
When choosing plants for your bedroom make sure to select a good mix that purify the air but also some that help induce sleep with their scent for best results. It is recommended that you have between 15 to 18 plants per 1800 square foot in your home making having just a few in your bedroom just the right balance. Why not pick up some plants as a natural solution for both your health and to improve the quality of your sleep tonight?
Soda Kuczkowski is the owner of START WITH SLEEP, an education resource center and retail boutique that focuses on both behavioral and medical sleep health located in Buffalo, NY. She is also the founder of the SE+T™ Sleep Program, a guide for improving sleep quality naturally. She is committed to addressing sleep concerns and questions by providing sleep health education through a channel of various components including sleep consulting, coaching, workshops and health programs.