Modern medicine and technology have come a long way in developing various aides to help us get the rest we need. Not sleeping well? Maybe a Melatonin supplement could help. Too much noise in your house? Perhaps a sound machine will help drown that out. While all of these methods have their merit, a study by NASA shows that maybe all we need is to go back to the basics.
Since the beginning of time, man’s existence has depended on our relationship with our natural environment. A study on clean air by NASA states:
“It should be obvious that when he [man] attempts to isolate himself in tightly sealed buildings away from this ecological system, problems will arise. Even without the existence of hundreds of synthetic organic chemicals off-gassing into tightly sealed environments, man’s own waste products would cause indoor air pollution problems.”
Man, and man-made products produce various indoor pollutants from just living our normal lives every day. Common examples include:
- Benzene — commonly used in paint plastics, ink, gasoline, and rubber. The presence of and contact with Benzene can irritate eyes and skin and has been known to be a contributing factor to diseases like leukemia.
- Trichloroethylene (TCE) — According to NASA’s Clean Air Study, over 90% of TCE produced is used in the dry cleaning industries, but it is also used in printing inks, paints, and varnishes.
- Formaldehyde — Perhaps the most common and widely known indoor pollutant, formaldehyde is found in consumer products like paper, grocery bags, waxed papers, facial tissues, paper towels, and cleaning agents. It’s even found in cigarette smoke and natural smoke from kerosene.
What does this mean? While consumer products have progressed and adopted many new ways of reducing or removing toxins from your home, it doesn’t mean that your space is completely in the clear.
Want to purify the air in your home? Incorporating specific plants into the design of your living and sleeping spaces can improve both the quality of your sleep and the quality of air you breathe. After all, studies point out that a bedroom with clean, fresh air promotes better sleep.
What plants can help improve your sleep?
A study by Wheeling Jesuit University found that the scent of jasmine led to greater sleep efficiency and reduced sleep movement. The study also found that when the participants woke from sleep, those who breathed jasmine rated their level of anxiety and vigor lower, and performed cognitive tests more rapidly. Researchers in Germany also found that a jasmine fragrance acted like a sleeping pill or mood enhancer. Simply breathing in a nose full of jasmine could have a very calming, sedative effect.
A perennial flowering plant with a notable history, Valerian was used for medicinal purposes in both ancient Greece and Rome. It was prescribed by Hippocrates and in the 2nd century by famous Greek physician Galen, for insomnia. A more recent study showed that valerian helped induce an increase in slow-wave sleep (SWS).
Lavender is one of the most commonly known flowering plants that helps induce sleep. Used as an essential oil or inhaled from a simple stem, the plant produces a unique floral scent that can be used as a solid sleep aide. How? Studies show that lavender increases the percentage of deep or slow-wave sleep (SWS) in both men and women. This proves that lavender can serve as a mild sedative and that it promotes deep sleep.
4. Snake Plant
The snake plant commonly referred to as “Mother-in-Law’s Tongue”, is a popular houseplant because it’s fairly easy to maintain. Tolerant of low light levels and irregular watering, the snake plant can be kept in your home and thrive with little maintenance. NASA’s Clean Air Study also found that the snake plant is one of the best plants for improved air quality since it absorbs many of the toxins found indoors. Remember to keep this plant away from your furry friends!
NASA’s study also cites Warneckei (Warneckii), or Dracaena deremensis “Warneckei”, as a great houseplant for beginners. It can tolerate low light, but also does very well with bright, indirect lighting and doesn’t need a lot of attention to thrive. The Warneckei’s true benefits come from its purifying ability. It’s an ideal plant to rid your home of benzene, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde. The downside? It’s toxic, so make sure to keep away from pets.
6. Peace Lily
Not only are they a beautiful addition to any room, but peace lilies are also another one of NASA’s super plants. They are extra moist and produce extra humidity, helping reduce allergens. They’re not safe for pets, so make sure it’s placed in a high and hard to reach area.
7. English Ivy
Studies show that English Ivy house plants remove benzene, trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene. You’ll benefit from having a more pure and fresh sleep space. English ivy is also not pet-friendly, so keep it away from your furry friends.
It’s also important to note that NASA’s study proved that the exposure of soil was an important factor in the quality of air purification. To get the best results, maximize air exposure to the plant root. You may need to remove some foliage if it covers the potting soil.
Have you added any plants to your sleep space? Did we miss any?