The 7 Best Smells for Falling Asleep

It’s no big secret that good smells can make us feel good, but do you know which ones help calm your mind so you can more easily drift off to dreamland? If you’re tired of being tired and still struggling to sleep, try one of the best smells for falling asleep.


A delicate purple flower with scientifically proven effects, Lavender lowers blood pressure, heart rate, and skin temperature – all ideal for easing into sleep (1).


Bergamot is a type of citrus tree that’s native to Italy, and the essential oil comes from the peel of the orange. The scent of this oil can increase GABA levels in the brain (2). GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is a neurotransmitter that slows down and quiets nerve activity. In fact, it’s what your brain uses as a natural tranquilizer.


One of the most widely used culinary flavorings in the world, this fragrance is also famous for being a potent relaxer and has been successfully tested as an aromatic anxiety treatment (3).

Ylang Ylang

Ylang Ylang is a tropical tree in Southeast Asia and the essential oil is extracted from the flower. Its sweet, floral aroma has been shown to have sedative effects by reducing blood pressure, heart rate, and arousal (4).   


Delicate white petals adorn this flower and its sweet scent packs a surprising sleep-inducing punch. At least one study found it was just as effective as prescription sleeping pills at relieving anxiety and promoting sleep (5).


A citrus fruit mainly cultivated in Japan, China, and Korea, Yuzu scent can soothe stress and anxiety and lower your heart rate in just 10 minutes, with effects lasting for almost half an hour (6).

Any Scent You Love

As they say at the National Sleep Foundation, “Simply put, any fragrance that makes you happy can promote sleep. Your olfactory system is directly linked to the emotional center in your brain—so when you sniff something that brings back a good memory (like pumpkin pie) or makes you feel excited and full of anticipation (such as the smell of sunscreen), your body releases feel-good, relaxing chemicals that can set the stage for great sleep.”

Once you’ve found your favorite sleep-enhancing scent, here are a few ways to use it:

  • Put a few drops of essential oil into a spray bottle with ample water and lightly mist your pillow and bedding before you lie down.
  • Sprinkle a few drops of scent onto a cloth or handkerchief and tuck it under your pillow. (Keep the direct area of application wrapped inside the excess cloth to ensure you don’t stain your bedding.)
  • Mix a few drops with a carrier oil (like coconut, argan, olive, or almond oil) and massage your neck, shoulder, arms, and legs.
  • Buy an essential oil diffuser.

NOTE: The quality of essential oils varies widely and they are not regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration (or any other government agency), so be sure to research the brand to make sure the oil is therapeutic quality and purity.

Sweet dreams!



  1. Sayorwan, Winai, et al. "The effects of lavender oil inhalation on emotional states, autonomic nervous system, and brain electrical activity." (2012).
  2. Saiyudthong, Somrudee, and Charles A. Marsden. "Acute effects of bergamot oil on anxiety‐related behaviour and corticosterone level in rats." Phytotherapy research 25.6 (2011): 858-862.
  3. Bythrow, Jenna Deanne. "Vanilla as a medicinal plant." Seminars in integrative medicine. Vol. 3. No. 4. WB Saunders, 2005.
  4. Jung, Da-Jung, et al. "Effects of Ylang-Ylang aroma on blood pressure and heart rate in healthy men." Journal of exercise rehabilitation 9.2 (2013): 250.
  5. O. A. Sergeeva, O. Kletke, A. Kragler, A. Poppek, W. Fleischer, S. R. Schubring, B. Goerg, H. L. Haas, X.-R. Zhu, H. Luebbert, G. Gisselmann, H. Hatt. Fragrant dioxane derivatives identify  1 subunit-containing GABAA receptors.. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 2010; DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M110.103309
  6. Matsumoto, Tamaki, Tetsuya Kimura, and Tatsuya Hayashi. "Aromatic effects of a Japanese citrus fruit—yuzu (Citrus junos Sieb. ex Tanaka)—on psychoemotional states and autonomic nervous system activity during the menstrual cycle: a single-blind randomized controlled crossover study." BioPsychoSocial medicine 10.1 (2016): 11.

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