Filling your bedroom with foliage is a great way to make the space feel like a sanctuary—a place where you can escape the stresses of the day. But plants do a lot more than create an oasis-like atmosphere, they purify the air and replenish oxygen. This can aid in a better night sleep, and really, what is more stress-relieving than that?
But when it comes to helping us sleep, some are better than others. We spoke to Christopher Satch, plant scientist at The Sill and Darryl Cheng of House Plant Journal to find out the best plants to help you get those quality zzzzs.
You may recognize the scent of jasmine from some of your favorite perfumes, but its sweet aroma will do a lot more than delight your sense of smell. A study found that jasmine’s scent can lead to more restful sleep, decreased anxiety and greater mental performance—all that from a plant that’ll look gorgeous on your windowsill as well.
Aloe is one of nature’s most healing plants—the Egyptians even called it “the plant of immortality.” Its gel can soothe sunburns and small cuts and its juice can help aid in digestion and strengthen the immune system. It also releases a ton of oxygen at night (some plants release oxygen in the day and carbon dioxide at night) which purifies the air and is great for lowering the benzene (found in chemical cleaners) levels, explains Cheng. He also says the succulent is very easy to care for: they need some direct sun in the morning or afternoon, but only need to be watered after prolonged periods of completely dry soil. Pro tip: give the leaf a gentle squeeze, if it is firm, no need to water; if it slightly pliable, it’s thirsty.
The snake plant, also hilariously nicknamed mother-in-law’s tongue, releases oxygen at night and is one of the top 10 air-purifying plants, according to NASA. (Can you think of a better reference than that?) This improves air-quality and will help you breathe easier while you sleep. Also, like its succulent friend aloe, it’s easy to care for. “The snake plant enjoys a view of the sky, but does not need direct sun to grow,” says Cheng. It also prefers dry soil in between watering, which means you can do it less frequently.
You’ve probably noticed that lavender is a common ingredient in soothing lotions and bath elixirs that claim to reduce anxiety and stress—and what about those little lavender sachets meant to be tucked under your pillow? Lavender products have always been used as a sleep aid, but why not skip the middleman, and go straight to the source? A lavender plant will fill your room with that familiar aroma and help you sleep like a baby. Don’t judge the cliché, a study showed that lavender reduces crying in infants and can help them and their moms sleep better.
If brought into the bedroom, this plant will live up to its name and help deliver a more peaceful night sleep. They are known to break down certain pollutants like formaldehyde and benzene, says Cheng, and are pretty low-maintenance. “Direct sun may cause the plant to wilt, peace lilies grow best with bright indirect light,” he says. “Also, be sure to keep the soil evenly moist.” Beware that the peace lily can be toxic to cats, dogs, and humans if eaten, so steer clear if you have a furry friend or small children.
Another high-ranking air-purifier according to NASA, English Ivy is great for those with allergies, asthma or anyone looking for cleaner air and a better night sleep. It is also known to reduce airborne mold. It’s easy to grow and doesn’t need much light, but it’s another one that can be toxic if eaten by small children and pets, so it’s a good thing English Ivy looks best in an out-of-reach hanging basket.
These brightly colored blooms will add a cheery pop of color (pink! orange! yellow!) to your space and increase the flow of oxygen in the air at night, like the snake and aloe plants. Another great option for those who suffer from allergies or sleep apnea, gerbera daisies are also amazing air-purifiers. But unlike their NASA-approved counterparts, these are annual plants (they last one year) and are a little fussier when it comes to care. They need bright light and the soil should be thoroughly soaked through and completely dried each time you water them.
Next time you stop by your corner store, grab a golden pothos for your bedroom, it’s almost a guarantee they’ll have one hanging out front. Perhaps they’re such a bodega staple because they’re so easy to care for—these plants don’t need much light or water, making them almost impossible to kill. Not only are they low-maintenance, they purify the air and remove toxins like formaldehyde and carbon monoxide. Although not necessary for survival, they might be nice by a window, as they can filter out pollutants coming in from outside.
The spider plant is another easy to care for sleep aid that removes toxins from and purifies the air. It also can get rid of unwanted odor and sustain oxygen levels, in turn promoting a better night’s rest. Plus, this plant just looks cool, and works in a hanging or standing pot.
These flowers may be the obvious choice if you want something that looks gorgeous and smells equally as so. But there’s a bonus: they can reduce stress and induce sleep, too. A natural sedative, a study claim gardenia is as effective as valium. That’s certainly surprising, but if you suffer from insomnia or anxiety, the natural alternative could add some calm. They are super delicate and need bright sun yet not direct sun and high-humidity—if the petals or leaves seem droopy, spray them with a little water. Like the gerbera daisy, these are more suited for someone with a green thumb.