Scentimental Mood: The Best Scents To Improve Sleep, Reduce Stress & More

African American woman inhaling cup of coffee tea

We go about our daily lives inhaling thousands of odors. Some of them are calming and reminiscent, while others are straight up foul and mentally disruptive. While we may notice the smell, we often overlook the positive and negative effects scents may have on our mood. But, if we paid closer attention, we just might be able to use scents to our advantage.

READ: Build Your Essential Oils Starter Kit

According to Luke Marr from Airheads Oxygen Bars, scents are used to do many things, including bring up memories, improve sleep, improve confidence, reduce stress or even increase the likelihood of finding someone attractive.

“Scents can have a huge effect on our mood. The area of our brain that processes emotions (the limbic center) is tied to the part of our brain that processes smells (the olfactory bulbs). This makes the connection between scents and emotions very high,” said Marr.

Adding a calming scent to your daily regimen can aid in preventing many illnesses, especially those that are linked to stress.

“Stress can contribute to heart problems, inflammation in the circulatory system and high blood pressure. The scent of lavender, however, can reduce both stress and anxiety. While this calms a person down in the short term, the less stress they experience also decreases their chances of stress-induced heart problems, etc,” said Marr.

“Another example is insomnia. Sleep deprivation can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke; it also significantly impacts our day-to-day lives. The scent of cherry is known to help with insomnia, relaxing your mind and aiding with sleep,” said Marr.

READ: Aromatherapy Can Improve Your Sex Life

While a pleasant scent can promote a positive mood, an overpowering scent can have the opposite effect. Take fragrance shops for example. They are filled with hundreds of high-end fragrances. But, sampling multiple fragrances can begin to feel overwhelming and make it difficult to distinguish one scent from the next, also known as olfactory fatigue. For some, it can also cause a bit of anxiety. This is why many fragrance shops keep small bowls of coffee beans, to ‘cleanse the palate’ or dilute the overwhelming combination of scents.