The Best Plants for Sleep

By Samantha Kent, researcher for SleepHelp.org

Peace Lily Plant

Peace Lily Plant

Adding plants to your bedroom can beautify the space where you end your day. But plants can also help promote a better and healthier night’s sleep.  Plants purify air and replenish oxygen. NASA released a study in 1989 that showed how plants can detox a space and issued a top 10 list of the best plants for your home. The study also showed that plants can remove up to 87% of air toxins within 24 hours.

What does detoxing a space mean for sleep? Airborne toxins can irritate the body and lead to congestion, inflammation, coughing, and the production of excess mucus. Plants are also natural dehumidifiers, as they use moisture from the air to nourish themselves. Some plants also have calming effects and have been studied to show reduced reduce physiological and psychological stress.

Plants are one part of setting the stage for good sleep. Practicing sleep hygiene, choosing the right pillows and mattress for your body, and preparing your mind and body for rest can be proactive steps to take to restorative night’s rest.

From succulents to climbing vines, here is a list of the top five plants that will help you sleep better:

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1. Snake Plant
The snake plant is a succulent and one of the easiest house plants for which to care. A NASA top 10 list finalist,  the snake plant is one few that converts carbon monoxide into oxygen at night. Most houseplants have a reverse process, only creating oxygen by day. Allow the soil to dry between waterings, and water once a month in the winter. 

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2. Bamboo Palm
Bamboo palms are a dramatic, green addition to a bedroom. Beyond their leafy beauty, they are known to purify airborne toxins like benzene and trichloroethylene. Bamboo palms thrive in bright light to support their leaves, so make sure they are near a window or get plenty of sunlight in your bedroom.

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3. Peace Lily
This flowering beauty also made the NASA list, as it’s a powerful detoxifier. A resilient, low-maintenance plant, peace lilies may be heavy-duty on the air detox but can have an opposite effect if ingested. Make sure that peace lilies are out of reach of pets and children, as they are toxic if eaten.

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4. Lavender 
From room sprays to bubble baths, lavender is a common scent associated with relaxation. Being in the presence of a live plant can be just as beneficial. This study found that the smell of lavender supports both deeper sleep and energy the following morning. Lavender has shown to calm the human nervous system and can address a variety of stress-related complications.  Lavender blossoms are a beautiful deep purple and can make a soothing addition to any room.

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5. English Ivy
This creeping vine can provide beautiful wall coverage as it grows over time. Another NASA top 10 finalist, English Ivy, is known for absorbing formaldehyde. Because formaldehyde is a volatile organic compound (VOC), prolonged exposure to it may cause cancer and in-utero developmental issues. English Ivy thrives in low-light conditions and low-temperature environments, making them a viable option for northern climates.

 Samantha Kent is a researcher for SleepHelp.org. Her favorite writing topic is how getting enough sleep can improve your life.