by Tyler Murphy
We spend a great deal of our lives asleep, or at least we try to. Difficulties with sleep can be one of the hardest health challenges to deal with. The symptoms of not getting enough rest range from relatively mild, such as sleepiness and irritability, to more serious and severe, such as mood swings and hallucinations. Treatment for insomnia or other sleep disorders can often be intensive, but fortunately there are less invasive forms of treatment, such as breathing machines.
Certain plants have been linked with improving sleep through the positive effects they have on the sleeper’s environment, typically through improving the air quality. Rather than taking medications or engaging in extensive sleep therapy procedures, simply placing one of these helpful plants in your bedroom can have a soothing effect, diminishing any difficulty one might be having with sleep.
Lavender, for example, has been observed to have a positive impact on sleep patterns in a wide variety of people. Some studies have shown this friendly flower’s distinctive aroma, in addition to its brilliant appearance, improves sleepiness in patients. The unique aroma of lavender has been demonstrated to have a calming effect on those nearby, making it ideal as a sleep aid. It has been observed to help fussy infants sleep as well as inducing a general feeling of calm. Lavender has also been tested in medical environments in an effort to determine its usefulness in helping hospital patients relax and get some rest, leading to a decrease in blood pressure and an improvement in overall sleep quality. Lavender can work in a variety of forms, such as lavender oil or dried lavender in a pouch (often called a sachet), or by placing a fresh, growing potted plant in your bedroom.
2. Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera has also been demonstrated as being an effective sleep aid. Aloe Vera has historically been associated with aromatherapy as well as being used in salves, creams and consumable medicines. This plant has also been shown to help with glucose tolerance and other common impairments, such as the pains associated with diabetes. Aloe can be consumed in a capsule form or used as an ingredient for topical gels. As a bedroom sleep aid, the plant can be effective for its effect on the air around the sleeper, increasing oxygen levels and making healthy natural sleep easier to achieve.
3. Snake Plant
Snake plants, also colloquially known as Mother-in-Law’s Tongue, make for a great low-maintenance addition to anyone’s collection of plants, but the snake plant can also help with sleep. This beautiful, easy-to-care-for plant produces tall, broad green leaves hungry for CO2 but rarely thirsty for a drink of water. Snake plants are incredibly easy to take care of and have been demonstrated to raise oxygen levels as well as clear airborne toxins, such as formaldehyde and benzene. Higher oxygen levels in the bedroom have been demonstrated to help with insomnia, and this plant also adds color and variety to the bedroom without breaking either your back or your wallet.
4. Peace Lily
The Peace Lily, also known as spath, has a storied history and is traditionally associated with both Buddhism and Hinduism. They are evergreen flowering plants that, much like aloe vera and snake plants, do not require much in terms of watering or general care. They have been shown both to raise oxygen levels and to have detoxifying effects on the air. They are cheap, common, and very popular as gifts. Peace Lilies are an excellent choice as a companion plant, and whether you’re struggling with sleep or not, they’re a great addition to anyone’s home.
5. Spider Plant
Sometimes confused for snake plants or other common resilient ferns and herbs, spider plants are flowering perennial herbs that are celebrated for their easy care and health benefits. Spider plants are credited by NASA to be one of the most effective houseplants in terms of sleep aids. The spider plant has been shown to not only clean toxic substances from the air but also to reduce offending odors. Spider plants require very little attention, and they make great decorative accents in any bedroom.
Valerian, a perennial plant with pink and white flowers, is a little-known but celebrated sleep aid. Valerian inhalation has been clinically demonstrated to help enhance quality of sleep. It can also be consumed in tablet form and has been known to have a “downer,” or sedative, effect. Unlike some of the other plants previously mentioned, Valerian requires a bit more care and attention. It requires plenty of sunlight and well-drained soil, although it is extremely resistant to cold weather. This plant is an appealing sleep aid choice for more experienced gardeners, who may enjoy both the sedative aromatic effects of the plant and the care and attention it needs—to say nothing of the beautifying effects that this lovely flower will have in your home or bedroom.
There are plenty of reasons to pick up a houseplant. Some might enjoy the hobby of indoor gardening for stress reduction, or for the chance to harvest occasional fresh produce, or even as a way to alleviate depression. But the sleep benefits plants can provide, as well as the sheer number of plants that can provide those benefits, are myriad. However, there are things that should be considered before adding a plant to your home. You should check with any cohabitants, such as roommates or family members, to find out whether they are allergic to any of the plants you’re considering. If you have pets, you should also look into whether or not the plant you have in mind could be harmful or deadly to your pet if ingested. But there is a plant for everyone, and with a bit of forethought and research, you can definitely find the right ones for you.
Want to learn more about plants to help you sleep?
See these resources:
American Journal Of Critical Care covers Effect of Lavender Aromatherapy on Vital Signs and Perceived Quality of Sleep in the Intermediate Care Unit: A Pilot Study
Alternative Medicine Review explains Treatment of Insomnia: An Alternative Approach
Daily Health Post covers Put These 10 Air-Purifying Plants Next To Your Bed For Better Sleep
Daily Mail covers The Plants that NASA Scientists Say you NEED in your Bedroom to Beat Colds, Tight Chests and Insomnia
University of Cincinnati covers Reduction of Harmful Air Pollution: Potential Ability of Different Plant Species to Remove Particulate Matter from Indoor Air
GrowVeg provides Valerian Growing Guide
Sage Journals covers Effects of Lavender Aroma on Sleep Quality in Healthy Japanese Students
Heidelberger OJS-Journals The Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies
Natural Living Ideas covers 12 Plants For Your Bedroom to Help You Sleep
U.S. National Library of Medicine covers An Evidence-based Review of the 10 Most Commonly Used Herbs
Very Well Health covers Most Common Symptoms of Sleep Deprivation
Indiana State University covers Lavender Oil: The New Sleep Aid
Diabetes Spectrum Journal covers Aromatherapy and Diabetes
The Sleep Judge covers 23 Weird Plants For Your Bedroom That Will Help You Sleep Like A Baby