We live in an age of stress, where fatigue and even total exhaustion are common complaints. So many of us are actually chronically sleep-deprived, and this lack of sleep creates a cycle of more stress, which leads to even less sleep, and a host of issues that stem from improper rest, including moodiness, less ability to focus or concentrate, and a severely lessened overall wellbeing. Good sleep is essential to our physical and mental health. So, what can you do if turning out the lights just results in a rush of thoughts you can’t turn off? What about those mornings when you wake up groggy, feeling ill-prepared to take on the day?
You might be surprised to learn that filling your bedroom with living plants is a simple, natural way to calm your mind and induce a restful sleep. Plants improve air quality and have a major, positive impact on our moods. Studies have even shown that plants help stressed students lower blood pressure by calming the sympathetic nervous system (the creator of our fight-or-flight adrenaline response to stress and anxiety), improve employer focus while on the job, and generally contribute to a more productive and healthy environment.
As human beings, we are inherently drawn to nature, so while all plants will certainly provide physical and mental benefits, there are a select few that have been studied and used more than others for their ability to promote relaxation and sleep. Some, in particular, were studied by NASA back in the late 80s for their ability to detoxify air.
Here are a few of those commonly researched plant suggestions to help you start the new year healthily rested and ready for what each day brings:
The Snake Plant
If you’re afraid of snakes, you might not think that a plant with snake in the name would be particularly soothing (it’s also known as the mother-in-law’s tongue plant!), but the snake plant’s large leaves make it ideal for air purification, and it’s general hardy nature means that even the most inexperienced gardener can keep this plant thriving. Just water your plant when the soil is dry. Check out this snake plant available on Amazon, already potted and ready to be placed in your home.
The Spider Plant
From snakes to spiders, the spider plant is another greenery that has been shown to promote cleaner, clearer air and promote sleep. These plants are well-adjusted to artificial lighting; in fact, too much direct sunlight can actually harm them, so they’re perfect for an indoor environment.
If you’re seeking something a little more flowery, jasmine is a beautiful plant to have at your bedside. Jasmine is a scent often used in aromatherapy to calm and soothe, particularly for people with anxiety, making it an ideal choice for a goodnight’s sleep. Interestingly, a 2010 research study found that jasmine, as well as another plant — gardenia — was as effective as strong anxiety medication in non-human research subjects.
You can also enjoy jasmine in additional ways, like in a relaxing tea before bed.
Gardenia is a beautiful plant with a lovely scent and a long history of encouraging relaxation. That being said, this special plant is also one of the more temperamental on this list. If you’re interested in purchasing a gardenia, you’ll want to read up a little on the care and keeping of this flower. Gardenias are tropical plants, so they enjoy much more sunlight than a snake plant or a spider plant. However, they also need just the right amount of shade. While it may take some time to figure out the best plan for your gardenia, the trouble will be well worth the effort, as gardenia has such soothing and air clearing properties.
Another equally beautiful choice is a gerbera daisy. This plant was one referenced in the NASA study for its ability to purify air, and it’s also safe to keep around animals. If you have pets or children, this is important to note. It’s always best to research what plants may actually be toxic if consumed, so that you can place those plants in locations where they can’t be accessed by your little ones — or, so that you can choose a different, safer plant altogether.
Lavender, like the jasmine and gardenia plants, is a kind of wonder plant, with a fragrance that has been shown in numerous studies to help with anxiety and promote a more refreshing sleep. Lavender is also found in everything from essential oil to bedtime teas, so a natural lavender plant in your bedroom could potentially do wonders for establishing a healthy sleep and calmer mood.
Nature Improves Our Overall Wellness
Having plants in the home not only makes for a more soothing, restful environment, but caring for the plants provides further opportunity for practising mindfulness. Make sure you read any care tags or booklets that come with your plant, or seek out information online, so that you’re aware of the best way to keep your plant alive and growing, as well as any information you might need to know regarding your pet’s or child’s access to the plant.
Do you have plants in your home? Have you found them beneficial for your rest and wellbeing? Interact with me on Facebook, where I share more thoughts on daily wellness, or leave your own thoughts below.