4th November 2015
By Carolanne Wright
Contributing Writer for Wake Up World
If you’re weary of tossing and turning, unable to sleep at night, a NASA study might just help deliver sweet dreams. The agency wasn’t researching some newfangled technology, instead it was studying plants — namely, those that dramatically purify indoor air. As an added perk, one plant also releases substantial levels of oxygen in the evening, which enhances restful sleep. But these aren’t the only benefits.
The principles of feng shui — the time-honored Eastern practice of harmonizing energy within structures for better health, prosperity and equilibrium — fully support the use of plants to improve the flow of energy throughout a building. Plants also soften indoor environments, add aesthetic value and — studies have shown — reduce stress and anxiety. What’s more, these living, breathing bundles of green also significantly improve indoor air quality.
As Mary Desaulniers Ph.D notes in “House Plants For Better Sleep”: “In general houseplants give a pleasant , soothing effect to the bedroom, an effect that promotes relaxation and sleep. They also absorb odors and fumes, replenish the air with oxygen and humidity, keeping the temperatures cool and sustainable for better sleep.”
Healthy plants create cleaner air through the release of oxygen and absorption of carbon dioxide, as well as by removing common air pollutants like formaldehyde, benzene, xylene, ammonia, acetone and ethyl acetate. Additionally, specific indoor greenery can balance humidity/dryness, reduce microbes and mold, while improving conditions for those suffering from respiratory ailments. And some flowering plants release a calming fragrance, further amplifying health-boosting and relaxing qualities.
Given the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has repeatedly warned that indoor air pollution is one of the greatest risks to public health, and that stagnant indoor air is oftentimes more heavily polluted than outdoor air, it pays to invest in plants that will not only beautify your environment, but also mop-up harmful airborne contaminants.
Best Plants for the Bedroom
With beautifully scented blossoms that promote relaxation, jasmine is one of the finest plants you can have in the bedroom. Research has shown that jasmine significantly reduces anxiety levels, leading to improved sleep quality.
Care: Grows best in moist, well-drained soil. Place in a warm spot with full sun exposure in the winter (a minimum of four hours per day). During summer, jasmine enjoys bright, indirect or curtain-filtered sunlight.
A familiar scent with exceptional calming properties, lavender has been used throughout the ages for relaxation and taming worry. On top of that, science has found the plant is effective for lowering blood pressure and heart rate, while reducing stress.
Care: Place in a bright window with full sun. Water moderately.
Bamboo Palm (Reed Palm)
Awarded a high purifying score of 8.4 in the NASA study, bamboo palm is remarkably adept at removing benzene and trichloroethylene — two chemicals that can cause respiratory distress, which in turn, encourages restless sleep.
Care: Thrives in shade or indirect sunlight and slightly moist (but not wet) soil.
A perennial flowering plant with lovely scented white or pink flowers in the summertime, valerian is well-known among herbalists as the go-to plant for reducing nervous complaints like insomnia, anxiety and over-excitability. The root is generally the most widely used part. However, when flowering, valerian releases a calming, sleep-inducing vanilla fragrance.
Care: Needs at least a full six hours of sun each day. If you have a bright window ledge in your bedroom, valerian is a good choice. Requires rich soil and plenty of water.
Another winner for promoting sound slumber, peace lily tops the NASA list for plants that filter hazardous benzene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde toxins from indoor environments. Not only beautiful to the eye, the plant inhibits airborne microbes that trigger allergies and respiratory complaints, which can disrupt sound sleep.
Care: Keep away from children and pets. Peace lily enjoys a shady spot and only requires weekly watering.
Easy to grow, snake plant absorbs carbon dioxide and releases oxygen during the night (a majority of plants do this in the daytime), thereby fostering deep sleep.
Care: Doesn’t require much light or water, so it will be happy in any dim corner of your bedroom. If you’re seeking a low-maintenance plant that’s hard to kill, this would be it.
With striking evergreen leaves and intoxicating flowers, gardenia is a wonderful choice if you’re willing to invest a bit of extra effort in caring for the plant. The fragrance of the flowers are well worth it and will quickly soothe you into a peaceful slumber.
Care: Requires bright, indirect light and high humidity. Gardenia’s also like rich, well-drained soil that is slightly acidic. The plant will need a constant supply of moisture to remain healthy. Learn more about gardenia care here.
- Always check if they are toxic to children and animals to ensure they are suitable for your family.
- Remember to wipe the leaves every week or so to ensure the plants can effectively do their job – just look at it as the equivalent of changing the filter in your air purifier!
- Choose a good mix of those that purify the air and those that induce sleep through their scent for optimum results.
- NASA recommends between 15 and 18 air-purifying plants in an 1800 square foot home, with a few of these in each bedroom.
Kamal Meattle: How to Grow Fresh AirArticle sources:
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