Lavender pillow sprays are touted to improve sleep, but is the claim backed by science – or is it just clever marketing?
Keen to get to truth of the matter, we asked sleep experts.
Does lavender help you sleep? The science discussed
Here, we break down the science behind lavender pillow sprays and share some of the top-rated picks to add to your nightstand.
Some studies suggest that the relaxing effects of lavender spray make them a good addition to your bedroom routine, so they are worth considering when trying to get to sleep fast?
‘There is evidence to support that inhaling lavender causes signals to be sent to the brain that aid in relaxation,’ begins Jillian Amodio, clinical social worker and yoga teacher.
‘Aromatherapy can impact the parasympathetic nervous system which controls functions such as heart rate and respiration. Aromatherapy practices with lavender can help regulate and reduce anxiety,’ Jillian explains.
'Lavender has been proven to help with sleep quality,' concurs Nilong Vyas, MD, board-certified pediatric sleep coach, founder of family sleep consulting service Sleepless in NOLA, and medical reviewer for Sleep Foundation.
'In a 2015 study, it was discovered that patients woke feeling more refreshed after using lavender essential oil patches. In addition, a study published in the journal Medicine [Lavender and the Nervous System] found a benefit of inhalation aromatherapy using lavender in improving insomnia. Inhaled lavender calms the nervous system through the olfactory sense (smell) and regulates the flight or flight response, improving sleep.'
Nilong Vyas, MD is a paediatric sleep consultant and owner of Sleepless in NOLA. She achieved her doctorate in medicine at the Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans, and is recognized by the American Board of Paediatrics.
You might think that investing in the best mattress, is key to getting a good night's sleep, and there is some uncertainty around the claims that lavender aids sleep.
Jeff Kahn, co-founder and CEO of Rise Science explains: ‘Despite a wealth of studies on the use of lavender aromatherapy for sleep, analyses point to the many reasons why firm takeaways are difficult. These include the high degree of heterogeneity among studies (such as different mixing ratios of essential oils, application methods, treatment durations, and participants), the heavy reliance on self-report sleep data, and the fact you cannot blind the intervention group to the intervention (lavender has a very distinct aroma).
‘However, we do know being relaxed before sleep is an essential ingredient to getting enough healthy sleep. And we also know lavender aromatherapy is pretty safe. So, if you find lavender sleep sprays help relax you before bed and fall asleep, or if you’re curious whether they’ll work for you, there’s no reason not to use them or try them,’ Jeff advocates.
It is important to note that not all lavender sleep sprays may work for everyone, though, he adds. ‘Individual responses to aromatherapy can vary, and factors such as the quality and concentration of the lavender oil used in the spray may also play a role in its effectiveness.’
For some, the rituals we create around sleep can be enough to help us drift off more easily, whether that is taking a warm bath, with a few drops of lavender oil, or simply reading a book. For some members of the H&G team, though, lavender works.
Our top-rated lavender pillow sprays
We have tried three different highly rated lavender sprays; here's a mini review from our team:
'This pillow mist has a lighter lavender fragrance, which I like as I am quite sensitive to strong smells,' says Digital Editor Jen Ebert. 'I use it as a pillow spray at night, but it's wonderful as a linen spray, generally.'
'I have tried this pillow spritz and found it really soothing, with its blend of lavender and chamomile,' says Solved Section Editor Millie Hurst. 'It really helps me feel relaxed as I go to bed, and using it has become part of my routine.'
'I spritz my bed sheets with this linen spray – it has a top note of mint, which I also love. I also take it to hotels when I travel for work; I find it helps me sleep better because it makes my room smell more like home!' says Editor in Chief Lucy Searle.
How to use lavender scents for a good night's sleep
How you use lavender scents can have a big impact. The most common use of lavender scents is as a pillow spray, says Jeff Kahn, co-founder of Rise Science.
‘Most people typically spray lavender scents on their pillows or bedding before going to bed, but others may prefer to mist their skin or night clothing,’ he explains. ‘It's important to follow the instructions on the product label when using lavender sleep sprays, as overuse can lead to adverse effects such as skin irritation or allergic reactions.’
Alternatively, you may wish to use a diffuser, at Etsy with lavender essential oils, or an oil roller on your pulse points suggests Jillian Amodio, clinical social worker and yoga teacher. If you love decorating with plants, you may also want to consider growing lavender indoors on a bedroom windowsill for a fainter scent.
How to make your own lavender pillow spray
While pre-made lavender sprays are convenient, they are simple to make yourself with essential oils, or you can make your own pouches if you grow lavender in your garden.
‘To make a basic spray, you will need: ¼ cup of distilled water and witch hazel or vodka (to help the scent last longer), and 20-30 drops of lavender essential oil. Simply mix these together in a clean misting bottle [like these on Amazon], and mist over your pillow at night,’ says Jeff Kahn, co-founder and CEO of Rise Science.
If you have lavender plants, cut sections of healthy flowers off of the plant and leave to dry. Once dried, remove the small buds and secure them inside either a small drawstring muslin bag, at Amazon, or stitch your own pockets out of muslin. If you find the scent of the dried lavender is too strong, you can bulk your sachets out with plain, uncooked rice to help diffuse the scent.
Is lavender sleep spray safe?
Using a lavender spray specifically for linens on your bedding is perfectly safe for sleep. Misting these sprays onto your pillows, bedding, or night clothes and allowing them to dry before sleeping can help to prevent any skin irritation.
Is lavender pillow spray good for you?
Lavender pillow spray is most commonly associated with relaxation, making it one of the better essential oils to use for relaxation for beginners to aromatherapy. Lavender oils are thought to have a small-to-moderate effect on sleep, helping people to relax and calm their minds when settling into bed.
Clearly, lavender pillow sprays promote relaxation even if they are not guaranteed to send you off to sleep. As part of a calming bedtime routine, we think they are the perfect little luxury.
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Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for a year, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.
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