These are the 6 best candle scents for sleep, say experts - 'they're a natural aid to help you drift away!'

If you’re struggling to get your Zzzzs, try these expert-recommended candle scents to help you nod off

lit scented candle in black glass vessel in room
(Image credit: Getty Images)

When designing a bedroom, one’s main focus should be to create a restful atmosphere. The right colors, light, and textures should be carefully chosen to send a message to our brain that it’s time for sleep. One other beneficial factor that completes the design of the bedroom, but we often don’t take full advantage of, is the scent. We all know scent can trigger certain feelings and emotions, but it can also help us sleep, too. 

Of course, lavender is one of the most popular aromas for helping us relax and get us in the right zone for sleep, but there are other options that are just as efficient and will also make your home smell amazing, too. Here, I speak with both scent and sleep experts who share a variety of candle scents we can go for to help us get a restful night’s sleep. It’s important to try them out and see what works best for you as personal taste is also a deciding factor, however, this is what science says about using scent to achieve a more restful mood. 

1. Lavender 

bunch of lavender

(Image credit: Fast Growing Trees)

The lavender scent is the go-to for those wanting to create a relaxing atmosphere, especially before sleep, whether that be through lighting a candle or using a pillow spray. 

‘Most of us are familiar with the use of lavender for better sleep,’ says Theresa Hornbach, sleep scientist at Emma - The Sleep Company. ‘The plant itself is known for its sedative properties and its ability to calm and relieve pain. Lavender is popularly known for its gentle and soothing aroma. It can even help to regulate your breathing, improve your mood, and lower adrenaline levels, all of which contribute to better sleep quality.'

2. Jasmine 

Star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) growing on fence

(Image credit: Diane Macdonald Stockimo/Alamy Stock Photo)

If you’re not a fan of lavender (and not everyone is!) there are other beneficial scents out there that can help you sleep better. Jasmine is one of them, and there is research to support this. ‘Jasmine is often used in cosmetics thanks to its sweet fragrance, but it is also famed for its powerful sleep-inducing effects. A study previously found that diffusion of jasmine in the room at night time led to greater sleep efficiency and reduced sleep movement in participants,’ explains Theresa. Compared to lavender, jasmine is a much more subtle scent so it’s the perfect alternative if you find the latter a bit overpowering. Jasmine is also a great indoor plant that people with great-smelling homes use to scent their spaces naturally

3. Chamomile 

chamomile flowers and garden chairs

(Image credit: Donald Meyer/Alamy Stock Photo)

Another subtle yet effective scent perfect before bedtime is chamomile. We know the relaxing benefits of the plant in tea, and it’s equally effective when used to scent your bedroom in the evening. 

‘Chamomile is a star in the world of sleep-friendly scents,’ says Siobhan Kehoe, scent expert at Rathbornes 1488. ‘Its mild, comforting essence helps in reducing anxiety and setting the stage for a restful night.' 

So, why does it work? 'The chemical compounds within chamomile include apigenin, which is an antioxidant,' Siobhan says. 'Apigenin binds to specific receptors in the brain that decrease anxiety and initiate sleep. When you smell chamomile, these calming properties are believed to be activated, helping to relax your mind and body, and making it easier to fall asleep.'

4. Bergamot 

close-up of bergamot flower

(Image credit: Getty Images)

This one might come as a surprise as it’s often associated with a more energy-inducing quality rather than better sleep, however, Siobhan tells us that bergamot can be surprisingly beneficial for sleep when blended correctly. ‘Its subtle, citrusy notes can alleviate stress, paving the way for a serene slumber,’ Siobhan points out. ‘Bergamot oil contains compounds like limonene and alpha-pinene which have been shown to reduce stress and anxiety.'

As she goes on to explain, these compounds can influence the brain's neurotransmitter levels, particularly serotonin and dopamine, which play a key role in mood regulation. 'The calming effect of bergamot can, therefore, help in creating a more relaxed state, conducive to sleep,’ adds the expert.  

5. Cedarwood 

This is a perfect scent for the cold season, as it creates a very cozy home feel that works a charm this time of year. Theresa tells us it’s great for sleep, too. ‘Cedarwood’s warm and woody aroma is known to evoke a sense of comfort and relaxation,' she says. 'The sleep benefits lie in its aromatic compounds, such as cedrol, which have been shown to stimulate the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with mood and sleep regulation.'

You’ll find this blended into numerous candles, just make sure the other fragrances associated with it are also relaxing and work together to create a sleep-inducive environment, not the opposite.  

6. Sandalwood 

This is another much-loved scent for this time of year, due to its woodsy aroma. ‘Sandalwood's warm, woodsy aroma has a remarkable ability to deepen relaxation,’ Siobhan tells us. ‘It's a superb choice for those seeking a restorative sleep environment.'

According to Siobhan, Sandalwood has been found to have a sedative effect that helps in reducing wakefulness and increasing amounts of non-REM sleep. 'It works by triggering a response in the brain that helps to relax the body and calm the mind,' she says. 'This makes it easier to drift off into a peaceful sleep.' It’s also one of the best home fragrances that's much preferred by interior designers and it will elevate the feel of your home.  

Raluca Racasan
News writer

Raluca is Digital News Writer for and passionate about all things interior and living beautifully. Coming from a background writing and styling shoots for fashion magazines such as Marie Claire Raluca’s love for design started at a very young age when her family’s favourite weekend activity was moving the furniture around the house ‘for fun’. Always happiest in creative environments in her spare time she loves designing mindful spaces and doing colour consultations. She finds the best inspiration in art, nature, and the way we live, and thinks that a home should serve our mental and emotional wellbeing as well as our lifestyle.