Houseplants and sleep
One of the first studies that examined the benefits of houseplants was done in 1989 by NASA. In the study, NASA examined a few handfuls of houseplants and studied how they purified indoor air.
Another article in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology examined how peperomia dahlstedtii (vining pepper) improved workers’ moods when it was introduced to a work environment. The article suggests that common indoor houseplants can induce calm, and reduce physiological and psychological stress.
And another study found that when flowering and foliage plants were placed in recovering surgical patients’ hospital rooms, their health benefited. Patients exposed to the plants had significantly less need for medicine, positive physiological responses, less pain, anxiety, and fatigue, and felt more positive feelings.
10 plants that might help you sleep
1. English Ivy
English Ivy, a houseplant, is a perfect bedroom companion because it’s been proven that the plant can help clean indoor air. The climbing plant also can thrive in low light conditions and low temperature environments.
2. Chinese (or Philippine) evergreens
A study in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology discovered that Chinese or Philippine Evergreens, also known as aglaonema brevispathum, are great at removing indoor pollutants. In the study, the researchers observed that aglaonema brevispathum, and two other plants (pachira aquatica, also known as a Guiana chestnut, and ficus benjamina, also known as a weeping fig) effectively removed air pollutants when they were placed by a window.
3. Snake plant
Snake plants, also known as sansevieria trifasciata, can thrive inside and outside of the home. An article that was done by Japanese researchers for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations found that the snake plant is able to absorb multiple hazardous chemicals, leaving indoor spaces cleaner. The plant also requires little care to survive.
4. Peace lily
Peace lilies, also referred to as Spathiphyllum varieties, make wonderful bed-side companions. An article completed for the Plants and Environmental Quality Group discovered that peace lilies could remove toxins in the air. These plants thrive in semi-shade to shade, and release moisture into the air. Peace lilies also have been shown to help people recovering from abdominal surgery recover.
Chrysanthemum is another plant lauded by NASA scientists for its air cleaning abilities. Its air purifying capabilities also were observed by a group of researchers who wrote an article for the journal Ornamentals and Flowers. The plant is perfect for a bedroom setting because it can live in lower light conditions.
Valerian is a perennial herb, or shrub. Its dried rhizome and roots are sometimes used in supplements. The evidence that supports valerian as a sleep aid is inconclusive. A 2007 study in the journal Sleep Medicine Reviews found that valerian may not significantly help people with insomnia sleep. However, a study in the journal Chemical Senses discovered that the inhalation of valerian (when the plant is used as an odorant) could help people with insomnia sleep. People who inhaled that plant’s scent slept longer and better.
The lavender plant has multiple varieties. It often flowers and has a pleasant scent. According to a 2013 study in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, a handful of single-blind randomized studies have examined the use of lavender aromatherapy and sleep quality. These studies found that the plant improved the mean scores of sleep quality in 15 healthy students, 64 ischemic heart disease patients, and 34 middle-aged women with insomnia. Also, oral lavender oil at the dose of 80mg/day increased the quality and duration of sleep among 221 patients who were suffering from mixed anxiety disorder.
According to an article in the journal Molecular Medicine Reports, chamomile is a well-known medicinal herb. The herb’s dried flowers contain terpenoids and flavonoids, which give it its medicinal properties. The herb is used to treat various ailments, such as insomnia.
Chamomile is beneficial in various forms. When it’s given as an aqueous extract, it can help calm nerves, reduce anxiety, and treat nightmares and other sleep issues. The herb also is known to help people sleep when prepared as a tea or used as aromatherapy.
9. California poppy
The California poppy is a wildflower. The flower is used in its powdered form to treat nervousness and anxiety. A 2014 study in the journal European Medicines Agency found that California poppy could improve sleep quality and duration.
10. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera, a popular plant that has multiple medicinal properties, has been shown to have some sedative and hypnotic effects in rats. The article that examined how aloe vera impacts rats’ sleep also referenced another study where an aloe vera topical moisturizer was used to treat patients with atopic dermatitis. The people in the study reported a 100 percent sleep improvement.
Note: Consult your doctor before taking any supplement or starting any plant therapy.