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Why plants are the natural way to get better sleep

Sarah Cheetham

Posted on August 21 2020

Why plants are the natural way to get better sleep


Phil Lawlor, Sleep Expert from Dormeo, explains why plants can help us get better shut-eye, and shares the best types to include in your bedroom.

Have you been struggling with a lack of sleep recently? If so, you're certainly not the only one. According to a survey from King's College London and Ipsos Mori, 6 in 10 Brits have reported experiencing worse sleep since March when the lockdown began. And, with all that's going on in the world at the moment, it's hardly surprising that so many of us are finding it tough to sleep at night.

Getting between 7–9 hours' sleep is vital for our mental and physical health, and it can help us to feel more alert and engaged in our work and social lives, too. So, if you've been battling insomnia over the past few months, it's well worth taking steps to improve your sleep environment. And, one thing you can do is to harness the power of houseplants. In this post, I'll explain how plants can improve our sleep, along with some tips on which ones are best for your bedroom.


The science behind plants and sleep

Houseplants can aid sleep in two key ways. Firstly, they help to improve the air quality in your home by producing fresh oxygen and removing pollutants from the air. According to a famous NASA study, certain plants are very effective at filtering out all sorts of harmful chemicals and toxins from the air around us. Better air quality is linked to healthier sleep and improved mental performance during the day (Wiley Online Library), and it's also thought to help relieve sleep apnoea (NCBI) and asthma (Asthma UK).

On top of this, houseplants can also help to boost your mood. Spending time around nature helps us to feel less stressed, and having plants in the house can do much the same thing. In fact, certain studies have found that they can help alleviate mental and physical stress (NCBI). So, houseplants are much more than just a stylish accessory: they can also help to make you feel more relaxed and at ease, which could just help you to drift off to sleep more quickly.

The best plants for the bedroom

While all houseplants will give you some of the benefits I outlined above, certain types are more effective at purifying the air than others. Here, I've shared a few varieties that are great for the bedroom.

Snake plants (Sanserveria)

The NASA survey found that snake plants were one of the best varieties for removing toxins from the air, including impurities like formaldehyde and benzene, so they make a great bedside companion. They're especially great for the bedroom, because they store up oxygen during the day, and then release it all at night when the temperature drops. If you're the sort of person who often forgets to water your plants, then snake plants will be the perfect match for you, as they love to be kept dry. Plus, they're a very stylish plant that looks right at home in modern bedrooms.

Golden pothos (Devil's Ivy)

Don't let the imposing name put you off — this plant is actually great for promoting a heavenly sleep. The NASA air quality survey found that it was very effective at removing all sorts of nasty pollutants from the air — including carbon dioxide, benzene, formaldehyde, and xylene. It's also a real looker too, with long trails of heart-shaped variegated leaves. It looks especially wonderful when grown in a hanging pot placed over your bed. You can also train it up into a wall feature with simple wall hooks. Plus, it’s quite easy to care for, and doesn't require too much watering.


If you're looking for a houseplant that is both a great air purifier and gorgeous to look at, look no further than the Calathea family. These are incredibly striking plants with their striped leaves with a vivid purple underside and ruffled edges. They can be quite fussy and love humid environments, so remember to mist them regularly. Or you can pop them amongst other plants to create a mini humid microclimate.

Boston Fern

Boston ferns are great air purifiers, so placing one somewhere near your bed can be a great way to improve the air quality in your sleeping area. They're shade-tolerant plants, which is ideal if your bedroom doesn't get a lot of natural light through the day. Plus, with their long, graceful fronds covered in tiny leaves, they'll add style and greenery to your space. To keep your Boston fern healthy, keep the soil lightly moist with regular watering, and mist the leaves twice a week — they love humidity.

Houseplants can be so good for our health, helping to boost our mood and purify the air around us. So, if you've been struggling with your sleep lately, you'll definitely want to try placing a few of the plants I've suggested above in your room.


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