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Scent and Sleep

Perhaps the most primal and yet underrated of senses, smell holds surprising sway over the way we think and feel. It can evoke childhood memories and covey a whole range of emotions and feelings. The right smell puts us at ease, invigorates us, relaxes us and generally can make a space far more pleasant to inhabit.

In Europe, from Medieval times, most great houses would have a still room where herbs and flowers were distilled for tinctures. Crusaders had brought back rose water which became all the rage and filled houses with scent to ward off plague. Fragrant plants would be put next to or under windows and doors to dispel the odour of a life before closed sewage.

When it comes to sleep humans have long used fragrance for its somniferous effects. The ancient Egyptians would burn frankincense, myrrh, cypress and cinnamon to induce sleep and enhance dreams. The Romans used the scent chamomile to relax. Even the “father of medicine,” Hippocrates, was a believer in the therapeutic power of scent.

Studies have been done on the correlation between smell and sleep and they indicate that smell can promote deeper sleep and reduce fatigue. Certain scents are shown to have a deep psychological effect that promotes  a positive mood and relaxation, which often leads to rest. one study even found that smells (both good and bad) will influence our dreams.

Some like lavender, also have physiological effects and will decrease heart rate and blood pressure, potentially putting you in a more relaxed state. In one study, researchers monitored the brain waves of subjects at night and found that those who sniffed lavender before bed had more deep sleep and felt more vigorous in the morning. Another study of infants found that they cried less and slept more deeply after a bath with lavender scented oils. Of course, lavender is not a cure for insomnia, but it could be a calming part of your bedtime routine. We sell the Zarvis linen liner made of the best English lavender which can be left in the linen cupboard or between the sheets on the bed to give a gentle perfume. It is perfect in a spare room to prepare the bed for guests.

Lavender linen liner

It doesn’t just have to be lavender: vanilla, jasmine, sandalwood, bergamot, lemon, geranium, ylang ylang and chamomile are all know for their tension alleviating and mood lifting properties. To put it simply, any fragrance that you enjoy will enhance your bedroom or indeed any room in the house.

Most importantly, whether it is a room spray or a scented candle or a wax melt, buy good quality, natural scents with a pleasing smell, that you like and that make you feel good.