Lavender scented candle with lavender next to it

Can lavender scented candles really help you sleep?

Are candles to help you sleep really a thing? Can a lavender scented candle really improve your rest? 

The market for sleep candles is huge. Nearly every candle brand out there (including us!) has a candle they claim can help you sleep or rest better. Some are lavender and chamomile candles, some just lavender, and some are other various aromatherapy blends tailored for sleep. 

Our Rest candle recipe wasn’t actually written to help you sleep but rather to help your mind and body unwind and be better able to enter rest. Rest is filled with Lavender, Rosewood, Neroli Blossom and Clary Sage. We deliberately wrote a recipe that included multiple scent notes to carry a message of ‘wind down, slow down, rest now’ to your brain. It’s a powerful ally during a stressful season.

Some candles go all in with a Lavender scent and tailor it to help your body actually fall asleep, while others fill their blends with chamomile and focus on encouraging your body to calm down. We explore the science behind candles to help you sleep here: 

The Science Behind Candles to Help You Sleep

So, most of the theory behind candles helping you to sleep is based on the principles of aromatherapy. 

“Aromatherapy is the practice of using essential oils for therapeutic benefit. Aromatherapy has been used for centuries. When inhaled, the scent molecules in essential oils travel from the olfactory nerves directly to the brain and especially impact the amygdala, the emotional center of the brain.” Hopkins Medicine

Aromatherapy is a fairly widely accepted form of holistic medicine and is used in an increasing amount of settings to utilise the power of scent. We grew up with our mum using a different essential oil blend every day, depending on how she felt so we learned first hand how aromatherapy can contribute to your wellbeing. 

Aromatherapy relies on the use of pure essential oils as the approach is built on harnessing the ingredients found in nature to impact our bodies and brains. 

“Plants are made of structural materials and Phytochemicals. These chemicals have properties that not only benefit the plant but benefit people, too.” Dr Lin, MD, via Cleveland Clinic

We’re in no doubt as to the effectiveness of essential oils and aromatherapy. While we wouldn’t go so far as to eschew modern medicine, we use a range of essential oils in our candles, in diffusers and in body oils every single day. 

Our understanding of, and belief in, the power of scent takes us a step further though. We believe that the emotional connection of scent to our brains is so powerful it can be used to help you feel relaxed, or energised, or joyful, too. 

For example, think of a smell you find incredibly comforting. Perhaps the smell of baked bread? There’s an incredible amount of research that shows how directly scent communicates with your brain and how powerful scent associations are on how you feel. And so, if you find the smell of baked bread comforting when you then smell it, you feel comforted. It works the same with the smell of a loved one. Neither of these scents are essential oils, neither contain the raw active power of a plant or flower, and yet they have the power to affect how we feel. 

“Smells are handled by the olfactory bulb, the structure in the front of the brain that sends information to the other areas of the body’s central command for further processing. Odors take a direct route to the limbic system, including the amygdala and the hippocampus, the regions related to emotion and memory.” The Harvard Gazette 

The Great House Farm Stores Approach to Scent

Our scent practice involves utilising aromatherapy alongside other scents that communicate with our bodies powerfully, to find the perfect scent for how you feel in every season and season of life. Our Home candle, for example, is filled with essential oils like Myrrh, but we’ve also added the scent of leather and woodsmoke as to us, those smell like home. When we smell our Home candle we feel welcomed in, relaxed and like we’ve just arrived home. 

Not every smell we love or rely on to shift our mood is found in nature, there is no leather essential oil, after all. But the warm, woody, richness of the leather smell travels straight to our brains and sends a direct signal saying ‘you’re home, relax, you’re safe, you’re welcome’. Now that really is magic isn’t it? 

So, a Lavender Scented Candle Can Help Me Sleep Then?

Lavender is one of the most commonly used essential oils. From soap to scented candles, it’s everywhere. Lavender oil is known for its relaxing properties but also for being antibacterial. That’s why you’ll often come across lavender kitchen cleaner or toilet gel! 

Numerous studies have shown a positive correlation between Lavender oil and sleep. 

“Lavender oil is the most frequently recommended essential oil to aid sleep. A 2014 systematic review examined 15 quantitative and 11 randomised controlled trials on the effects of inhalation of various essential oils on sleep. Most studies showed a beneficial effect from a range of essential oils on sleep. However, benefits were most frequently reported for the use of lavender.” Open Access Government

We don’t need any convincing of the effectiveness of Lavender essential oil in helping you to sleep. That’s why we filled our Rest candle with not one, but four different types of lavender oil, each one chosen for their own unique properties. But, we don’t believe that lavender oil alone can cure chronic sleep issues, undo the damage of a stressful day, or heal a deep emotional wound that may be affecting your sleep.

A Positive Sleep Association 

One way we love to use our Rest candle is to create a positive association between its lavender-heavy scent and times of sleep and relaxation. 

Association has a big impact on us and how we feel. We can associate certain places with certain emotions (for example a beach from childhood holidays with a feeling of joy) and we can associate certain tastes with certain feelings too. Scent is the same and so by using Lavender, in a candle, diffuser or bath oil when we relax and sleep we begin to build up an association between the smell of lavender and times of rest. 

Then, on days when you need a little more help than usual to relax, you can use the scent of lavender to help your body switch into rest mode. This, combined with Lavender’s natural relaxing properties, makes an effective ally in the battle to unwind. 

Cultivating a Lifestyle of Rest

We’re all about cultivating a lifestyle of rest here at our Welsh farm. We work very hard but we try to work from rest, rather than rest from work. The ancient way of living, inspired by a Sabbath practice, places an emphasis on carving out space to rest regularly. 

That’s how we designed our Rest candle to be used. You can light it for an hour before bed and let its sleep-supporting essential oils flood your room. But we also love to light it throughout the day to send a constant reminder of rest to our brains. It’s the lifestyle of rest, of prioritising space and time to unwind, that really helps us to sleep. 

Back to blog