Plant therapy: 10 plants for better sleep
Did you know? Placing a plant in your bedroom can help you sleep better. Not only are indoor plants pretty to look at, but they also offer a host of health benefits. Leafy greens in your bedroom double up as air purifiers, anxiety and stress relievers and more importantly, help you get high-quality shut-eye.
How do plants help you sleep?
Research has found that plants have therapeutic benefits which help to reduce blood pressure and stress levels. This is because caring for plants gives you a sense of responsibility and reward. Researchers have touted indoor gardening and horticultural therapy as a way to increase feelings of wellbeing and tranquillity. Some medical centres in Manchester are even recommending plant therapy to patients dealing with anxiety and depression.
A study by NASA showed how certain indoor plants can reduce toxins in the air, purifying the oxygen and better breathing during sleep and awake. Certain plants can boost your mood, as they trigger the release of neurotransmitters, which elevates feelings of joy, peacefulness, and calm. This can make sleeping a relaxing experience and alleviate insomnia, helping you to get high-quality sleep.
Which plants are best for sleep?
Take a look at our guide to the best houseplants for sleep and let’s start sowing the seeds for better z’s.
Best for: Helping you relax
Jasmine flowers are a favourite for essential oils and perfumes because of their sweet scent. The scent has been found to have strong chemicals which interact with the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter found in the brain, which can lower anxiety, calm the nervous system and improve sleep quality. During the day, inhale the flowers of the plant to get a mental boost. Studies have found it can stimulate mental performance. Put your jasmine flower pot on the windowsill and don’t overwater it.
Snake plant/mother-in-law’s tongue
Best for: Purifying the air in your bedroom
This plant cleans the air by removing harmful chemicals like toluene, benzene, xylene and trichloroethylene (commonly found in household cleaning products), and replacing them with oxygen. To care for your snake plant, water it once a week and regularly take it out for sunshine. Because this plant grows quite tall, place it in a cosy corner in your room and allow it to add to the ambience with its striking stems!
Best for: Helping you fall asleep
The root of the Valerian plant is a tried and tested natural herbal remedy to induce sleep. Valerian has been used in teas and ointments to ease insomnia and bring on the z’s. It is packed with the antioxidants linarin and hesperidin which have sedative effects, similar to chamomile. Valerian interacts with GABA by breaking it down in the brain to induce sleep and calm your nervous system. Just by inhaling the scent from the flowers, you’ll sleep better. Keep it in a sunny spot.
Best for: Deep sleep
The lavender plant is known for its relaxing effects on body and mind. Lavender promotes deep sleep as it is an anxiolytic (an anxiety reliever), increasing relaxation levels. Like the Valerian plant, it interacts with the GABA chemical messenger in your brain to ease the nervous system. It reduces feelings of restlessness. Help your lavender plant last longer by watering it sparingly and ensuring it gets plenty of sunlight.
Best for: Increasing humidity levels
Peace lilies can increase the humidity in a room by 5%. This contributes to a peaceful night of sleep as humidity facilitates breathing, reducing the risk of catching a cold and having dry skin and hair. It works by breaking down harmful pollutants in the air like formaldehyde and benzene. Be careful to keep it safely out of reach of your pets or children as it is toxic and should not be eaten. Water your peace lily once a week to keep it fresh.
Best for: Purifying the air
This plant will add a stunning design feature to your home (while earning its keep by cleansing the air of carbon monoxide and formaldehyde). You’ll be glad to know the golden pothos is low maintenance and doesn’t need much sunlight to thrive. To make the most of it, plant it in a hanging basket and water it once a week.
Best for: Adding oxygen
Even though Aloe Vera has been used for centuries for medicinal and health purposes, it is fantastic for bringing fresh air into a room. It will liven up the atmosphere by releasing oxygen during the night so you can inhale and exhale pure air while you sleep. It’s a low-maintenance houseplant that needs very little water.
Best for: Improving your mood
A natural anxiety reliever, passionflowers will boost your mood. According to research, passionflowers can boost GABA amount in the brain, helping you to relax. They are also known to help with insomnia so place them strategically around your room to help you drift off into some peaceful sleep. Passionflowers need 4 hours of sun a day with the rest of the day spent in partial shade.
Best for: Removing toxins from the air
Do you have sinus issues that keep you up at night? Then invest in an areca palm. This non-toxic tropical plant purifies toxins in the air so you can breathe well. It needs regular water so keep it hydrated, especially during the warmer months.
Best for: Inducing uninterrupted sleep
Whether it’s used in tea or as an essential oil, you can never go wrong with Chamomile. This plant contains loads of apigenin, an antioxidant that binds to receptors in the brain, which reduces anxiety. This herb also induces sleep and is great as a pot plant next to your bed. You can add the blooms of your plant to a bath or simply inhale it before bed. Keep this plant in the shade for it to last longer and water sparingly.
Plants are noise-free, unproblematic and the kicker is that they multi-purpose, enhancing the decor and making your foray into dreamland a stress-free one. Cultivating plant therapy and keeping plants indoors can improve your sleep quality, so you feel more alert, refreshed and recharged the following day.