Scented candles can be a great tool to help you fall asleep at night. When your brain registers smells, certain chemicals react in ways that cause calming mental and physical effects.
The relaxing effects of certain scents can be traced to the organs involved in our olfactory system (the system responsible for our sense of smell).
Humans have sensory neurons in the back of the nasal cavity called olfactory receptor cells (OR cells). Each neuron has tiny hairlike structures called cilia that use receptor proteins to bind to certain aroma compounds.
When binding occurs, a chemical stimulus transmits information from the neuron to the olfactory bulb in the brain.
Interestingly, the olfactory bulb is a part of the limbic system, which supports a number of functions including emotion, behaviour, and long-term memory.
So, whenever a scent makes you nostalgic or is noticeably soothing on an emotional level, it's probably due to the involvement of the limbic system.
IMPORTANT SAFETY PRECAUTIONS
Forgetting to blow out your candle at night is scary - we’ve all been there. It might not seem like a big deal to leave a candle burning overnight, but it’s really important to follow the proper safety protocol. Otherwise, it could lead to very serious consequences.
There are several ways that this could happen:
- Accidentally knocking the candle down - Your candle could get knocked over while you're sleeping by a pet, child, gust of wind, or other interruption.
- Candle flashover - This is when candle wax gets ignited, causing a much bigger flame that could spread to other areas.
- Shattered glass - Glass candle jars can shatter at high temperatures. Burning a candle for a long period of time (e.g., overnight) could overheat the glass, causing it to shatter and spill out hot wax and embers.
- Always blow your candle out before you fall asleep! Give yourself a gentle reminder at night to extinguish your candle flame by setting an alarm on your phone to let you know when it’s time to put out the flame and hit the hay.
- Place your candle in a well-ventilated area, away from any combustible materials such as paper materials, clothing, curtains, bedding, etc.
THE BENEFITS OF SCENTED CANDLES FOR SLEEP
Soothing scented candles can help with insomnia and reduce stress, both of which lead to a better night's rest.
SCENTS THAT HELP WITH INSOMNIA:
- Lavender - Researchers conducted a study that showed lavender helps ease sleeping problems (as well as depression) among college students, heart disease patients, and middle-aged women with insomnia. Lavender oil comes from Lavandula angustifolia flowers. It’s composed of linalyl acetate and linalool, which are commonly used in aromatherapy.
- Jasmine - The smell of jasmine is known to relax nerves and help calm the body at night. Derived from the stunning jasmine flower (Jasminum officinale), this aroma has been used to combat insomnia for centuries.
- Rose - The smell of rose is known to be closely related with the brains emotional and behavioural control centres. Not only does it help you sleep better, but it might also lead to happier dreams! One study analysed the effect of roses versus rotten eggs on women’s dreams. Those exposed to rotten eggs were more likely to have nightmares, while those who inhaled the scent of rose were more likely to have positive dreams. In addition, research also suggests that inhaling rose could improve learning during sleep.
SCENTS THAT CAN REDUCE STRESS:
- Lemon - Lemon has calming effects on the body, which makes it a great option if you are feeling anxious before bedtime.
- Lemongrass - Lemongrass-scented candles are another great option for the anxious soul at night. The lemongrass plant (Cymbpogon cirtratus) gets its peppery aroma from the molecule's limonene and myrcene.
- Pine - In a Japanese study, people who walked through a pine forest experienced reduced stress levels than those who didn’t walk through.