5 bedroom scenting mistakes making sleep more difficult – according to home fragrance experts

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Used correctly, bedroom fragrance can help lull even the most restless of sleepers into a deep slumber. However, there are several bedroom scenting mistakes that can make sound sleep more difficult, home fragrance experts are warning us.

Making a bedroom smell good for sleep is a great way to sleep better and increase comfort. However, using too much scent, the wrong scent, or scenting your bedroom by the wrong means can all have the opposite effect.

These are the five bedroom scenting mistakes you have to avoid if you want to improve your sleep, and what to do instead.

Bedroom scenting mistakes

Avoiding these five home fragrance mistakes is a must if you have found yourself struggling to sleep.

1. Using candles in the bedroom

A console table with books, a framed drawing, a vase and a candle

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There are few things as relaxing or romantic as the flickering of the best candles, however, they are also known to be toxic, meaning they can pollute your bedroom and affect your sleep quality. Not to mention that they are incredibly dangerous if you fall asleep with one burning. As such, it is better to find alternative ways to scent a bedroom that don’t involve life flames.

Tina Priestly, home refresh expert and owner of Ready, Set, Refresh suggests using essential oils in diffusers instead:

‘Essential oils not only smell amazing but also have antimicrobial properties that can help eliminate odors at the source,’ she explains. ‘Lavender and eucalyptus are great choices. Add a few drops to a diffuser in your bedroom or mix with water in a spray bottle for a quick, refreshing spritz around the room.’

2. Using the wrong fragrances

One of the worst bedroom scenting mistakes you can make is picking the wrong scents for your bedroom. Working out the best and worst bedroom scents for sleep is a must of you want to lull yourself to sleep and not energize yourself when you should be winding down, says Caleb Backe, fragrance and aromatherapy expert at Maple Holistics:

‘Strong, bold scents like lemongrass and peppermint are great for creating a refreshing atmosphere in rooms like the bathroom or kitchen. However, these strong scents should be avoided in your bedroom. If you are exposed to these powerful scents for long periods of time, it can lead to headaches and restlessness, which will certainly disrupt your sleep,’ he warns.

‘Citrusy scents like lemongrass, orange, and spicier scents like chai may also not be the best thing to diffuse before bed. These scents have a stimulating effect on your central nervous system and can potentially boost your energy levels. While this may be beneficial during the day, it's probably not the best idea for before bed.’

Instead, it is a much safer bet to opt for something soothing, such as lavender, or comforting, like vanilla. Home fragrance experts at Pura recommend either their Cardamom Vanilla scent, formulated for sleep, this scent is made with ingredients that can help increase feelings of rest and relaxation, or their Ylang Pistachio sleep fragrance, available at Amazon, formulated for a sense of calm, this scent is made with ingredients that can help boost feelings of calm and peacefulness.’

3. Using too much fragrance

A small candle on a dark wood bedside table beside a glass vase of white flowers

(Image credit: Mark Bolton)

Even if you have picked the right sleepytime fragrance and switched to less toxic methods of scenting your home, you can have too much of a good thing. Overloading your room with fragrance by either using too strong a fragrance, going over the top with fragrance layering, or picking scenting options that are too powerful for the size of your room can disrupt your sleep by irritating your airways.

Keep bedroom scents light and subtle for a gentler approach to sleep.

4. Scenting the wrong things

bedroom with view of lake

(Image credit: Tina Kulic)

Scenting the air in your bedroom is not the only way to make a bedroom smell nice for sleep – and it can be irritating for our airways when we put more particles into the air. Instead, you can consider scenting your bedroom furniture and bedding using DIY linen sprays and laundry detergents for a more gentle approach to bedroom fragrances.

‘Linen and room sprays are a great way to quickly freshen a musty space when you don't have time for a deep clean and you don't want to worry about a candle flame around pets or little ones,’ says Kerry Kip, home fragrance expert and founder at MINOT Candle. ‘Just two to three sprays about six to eight inches from linens create the perfect, even coverage you need for aromatherapy bliss.’

You can also use lightly scented products when cleaning a bedroom to infuse a subtle scent into the furniture without the need to add further fragrance.

5. Using the wrong diffuser

Fragrance-zoning will boost your mood using nothing but scent and you're going to wish you had known about it sooner

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Essential oil diffusers and reed diffusers are some of the best options for scenting a bedroom, but they always come with caveats. ‘The science behind using a diffuser is quite simple, but it's still possible to be using a diffuser incorrectly,’ warns Caleb Backe, fragrance and aromatherapy expert. ‘A common mistake is that people either use a diffuser that's too small for the room or one that is too big.

‘Make sure you're using the right size diffuser, and always follow the manufacturer's instructions when you're adding oil to the water. The ratio of oil to water is important when using a diffuser.'


How do you make a bedroom smell nice all the time?

One of the best ways to make a bedroom smell nice all the time is to keep it clean. Cleaning and vacuuming regularly, alongside washing your bed sheets often and leaving windows or doors open when you sleep to allow the room to breathe will prevent musty odors from building up and keep your sleep space smelling its best. You can then add fragrance through diffusers to subtly scent the space without irritating your airways.

Getting your bedroom fragrance right is one of many ways to make your bedroom better for sleep. Pairing a good sleep scent with blackout curtains, an air purifier, and the best bed sheets will all contribute to the best night's sleep.

Chiana Dickson
Content Editor

Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for two years, 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.