Does Lavender Improve Sleep?

Lavender is a flower that is part of the mint family. It has often been marketed as a scent that aids sleep, but do the claims hold up? According to an article in the Wall Street Journal the answer seems to be yes and no.

The Studies

The article claims that lavender really hasn’t been tested thoroughly enough to prove its effectiveness, especially in the long term. However, it appears that a few studies show that lavender enhances the quality of sleep. The article sites a study done by Wesleyan

University in which people who were given whiffs of before sleeping had more deep sleep than those given whiffs of distilled water as a placebo.  There are a few other small studies mentioned that seem to enforce the idea that lavender improves sleep.

The Problems

The problem, scientist claim, is that no one has studied all of the various methods of use available to know which ones are most effective. For example, lavender can be found in pillows, night masks, bath oils, soaps, lotions, and more.  A study funded by Johnson and Johnson suggests that lavender helps babies sleep better, but psychologists warn that it may be the routine that helps rather then just the scent.

Routines are Best

It appears that lavender may be the most effective when combined with a bedtime routine. Quoted in the Wall Street Journal article, Meir Kryger, director of research and sleep education at Gaylord Sleep Medicine says that adding a scent to a relaxing routine “has a positive reinforcement aspect to it. The next time you do it, you will feel even more relaxed.” So, when you smell lavender while doing something relaxing, the next time you smell lavender you will feel relaxed because of the association.

Try it Out

If you do not suffer from severe insomnia or other sleep disorders, there is no harm in trying lavender to see if it helps improve your sleep. Or, if there is another scent that you already connect with relaxation, try including that in your bedtime routine. It appears the key to sleeping well is repetition. Using all of your senses to prepare for sleep can help your body relax and give you a more quality night of rest. Are there scents you like to include in your bedtime routine? Have you tried lavender? Do you think it works?


Photo “Lavender” courtesy of audreyjm529

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