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For a Deep Sleep, Spritz on a Mist

The science behind sleep scents.

For a Deep Sleep, Spritz on a Mist
Courtesy of Future Society

There’s a reason why sleep is as desirable as Hamlet made it sound in his Act Three soliloquy—it reinvigorates our bodies and regulates our daily energy. Restful sleep is non-negotiable, just as the tortured protagonist suggests. Now, in the age of TikTok, methods to achieving covetable shut-eye come in many different forms: from the sleepy girl mocktail to taping your mouth shut to, most intriguingly, spritzing on a bedtime sleep scent.

Spraying your pulse points or pillow with a sleep-evoking mist or bedtime perfume to lull you into a deep sleep sounds luxurious (or like something out of a Disney movie), but does it work? I was determined to find out, so I spoke with multiple perfumers about what a sleep scent is, how to use one, and how to incorporate this fragrance into your routine. I couldn’t resist trying a few myself, so I also share my own experience with a handful of sleep scents. Read on to find out if they lulled me into a Hamlet-worthy slumber.

What Is a Sleep Scent?

A sleep scent or bedtime fragrance is exactly what it sounds like; it's a perfume that induces relaxation and can be used before bed to improve sleep quality and longevity. And there’s good reason for it, according to Carla Falchi, VP of Product Design & Ventures, Scent at IFF. “Eighty percent of people would like to improve their overall quality of sleep,” she says. She goes on to explain that sleep disturbances are not a new phenomenon and are ever-growing in our lifestyles due to fast-paced modern society. “Age-old remedies are still well anchored in most cultures and often use aromas and scent to solve part of the equation,” she says.

Because of this, aromatherapy has been studied throughout the years as a method to improve sleep quality. “IFF leveraged 40+ years of science-based expertise in understanding the relationship between scent and emotions and went on to decode the connection between scent and sleep,” Falchi says. To do this, the foundation partnered with SleepscoreLabs, a collective of sleep experts and researchers, to biometrically test and track scented products and their effects on sleep. Together, the teams scientifically demonstrated that scent does have a positive impact on overall sleep quality. “There are many different observed parameters to the science of sleep, which include: how fast you fall asleep, how deep your sleep is, how well you sleep through the night, how easily you wake up, and how rested you feel in the morning and throughout the day,” says Falchi. Sleep scents work to address all of these aspects in combination to help improve sleep quality overall.

How Do Sleep Scents Work?

Linda G. Levy, President of The Fragrance Foundation, shares that there is a method to the sleep scent madness. “Scent and smelling are directly tied to the brain, so there is good evidence that our brains continue to process the olfactory world during the sleep stages,” she says. Spraying a sleep or bedtime fragrance creates a scented atmosphere that surrounds or envelopes you, which can lull you into a more relaxed state. Further, Emelia O’Toole, a.k.a. Professor Perfume on TikTok, explains it as a form of mind-trickery: “You can sort of ‘train’ yourself into a new or improved sleep schedule by repeatedly using the same scents at night. Eventually, you'll associate that scent with going to sleep—so whenever you smell it, your brain will think, ‘Oh, it must be bedtime!’” And she’s right; this allows us to begin associating certain scents and notes with sleep, like those that make us feel more relaxed, calm, and refreshed.

What Notes Are Found in Sleep Scents?

There are a myriad of notes that evoke better sleep. “There are classic scents such as lavender, eucalyptus, or rose, or warmer notes such vanilla that have relaxing qualities,” says Levy. Jasmine and chamomile are also good options for a bedtime fragrance—and even linen. “Certain notes in fragrances are associated with wellness, inducing relaxation, creating a calming and soothing effect,” she says.

Lavender is a crowd-favorite amongst sleep scents, and Le Labo Lavande 31 is a great option to try for a fresh take on it, according to a brand representative . “The freshness comes from bergamot and neroli essential oils, under which the purest lavender is revealed. Its foundation is characteristically amber-y and musk-y blended with notes of tonka to give this perfume a regressive classic style,” they say. If you love lavender, this is the type of scent to go for when choosing a sleep scent.

According to O’Toole, calming notes like chamomile, eucalyptus, or ones you’d find in a cup of tea are another route to take when searching for a bedtime fragrance. “I always like to wind down with a cozy cup of tea at the end of the day, so why not utilize the same relaxing ingredients through aromatherapy?” she poses.

Future Society Invisible Woods is a great sleep scent for this reason—its grapefruit and ginger base is flanked with calming, woody notes. “Invisible Woods contains a multitude of fascinating olfactive facets, but the eucalyptus and chamomile are noteworthy, in particular, when you're looking for the perfect fragrance to unwind,” says Jasmina Aganovic, Founder of Future Society. She goes on to explain that eucalyptus is known to relieve stress in the body by increasing blood flow to the brain, ultimately calming the mind, while chamomile naturally contains the antioxidant apigenin, which may bind to certain brain receptors when inhaled and may enhance a feeling of sleepiness.

Incorporating a Sleep Scent Into Your Bedtime Routine

Once you’ve found your ultimate sleep scent, you can apply your fragrance before bed in a few different ways. To add longevity to the scent and allow it to linger on your skin throughout the night, Aganovic recommends first using a fragrance primer to your pulse points: on your wrists, the base of your neck, and behind your ears—we love the Future Society Optimal Habitat Fragrance Primer or Dedcool Milk for this. Next, apply your sleep scent to the same pulse points to lock in the smell. If you prefer, you can also lightly mist the sleep fragrance onto your pillowcases and blankets for an enveloping experience. “Do this about 20-30 minutes before you plan to sleep. This can help signal to your brain that it’s time to wind down,” says Aganovic.

O’Toole also notes that bedtime fragrances need not last until morning. Instead, the purpose of a sleep scent is to relax and feel comforted as you fall asleep. “If you want the scent to last overnight, I would suggest an essential oil diffuser rather than a personal scent or a pillow spray,” she says.

The Difference Between a Sleep Scent and Pillow Spray

The experts also share that there is a difference between using a sleep or bedtime fragrance versus a scented pillow mist. “A pillow spray is lighter in formulation and aromatherapy,” says Levy. While pillow sprays usually have the same calming, sleepy notes like lavender and chamomile, they’re simply not as customizable as a bedtime fragrance can be. “With a bedtime fragrance, it can be any scent profile of your choice. For instance, if you can't stand the smell of lavender, you might lock into a tea or a wood scent profile for your bedtime scent. Just like you might pick different perfumes for work, a date night, or school, you can also pick a signature scent for sleep,” says O’Toole.

Ultimately, it’s up to personal preference whether you prefer a pillow mist or an actual bedtime fragrance. If you want to opt for the former, Levy recommends the Homecourt Room Spray in Steeped Rose with notes of rosewater and ylang-ylang, or the Maison Francis Kurkdjian Aqua Universalis that provides a warm musk. Otherwise, choose a sleep or bedtime scent for a more immersive experience. “A bedtime fragrance can enhance the experience by not only existing on your pillow and bedding but also on your skin and body to create a more personal, lasting moment,” Falchi says.

The Best Sleep Scents I Tried

Lavande 31

Perhaps the most hypnotizing of the bunch, Lavande 31 lulled me to sleep rather quickly, making it my favorite of the scents I tried. “Lavande 31 is richly versatile—recognizable yet truly unique. Its labyrinthine nature lends itself to all occasions, so whether one is about to set out for the day or turn in for the night, it offers a moment to reset,” says a brand representative. And they’re right; it feels incredibly refreshing, yet intimate. This one is very potent, so I recommend applying it to pulse points only. The best part? The addictive and comforting scent lingered on my skin until morning.

Le Labo

Jasmin Bonheur

If you want a sweeter bedtime fragrance, I love this one. It has notes of vibrant jasmine, apricot, and violet that provide a powdery, floral finish that I found extremely serene. It almost cleansed the day away for me, leaving me with a relaxed and revitalized aura that helped me fall and stay asleep.


Invisible Woods

This scent is perhaps the most dynamic of all the sleep scents I tried—I can easily see myself wearing it during the day, or at night before bed. Because eucalyptus relieves stress in the body and chamomile enhances a feeling of sleepiness, I certainly felt a sense of both come over me right after application. It’s not overpowering, either, so I felt comfortable lightly misting it on my bedding, too.

Future Society

Molecule 01

Molecule 01 is the most skin-like sleep scent to add to your bedtime routine. It’s subtle, comforting, and a great option if you’re not a huge fan of the quintessential ‘sleepy’ scents of lavender or chamomile. Instead, it’s a modern take that blends with your natural skin scent to create a personalized aroma. For this one, I felt a sense of calm and cozy after applying it to my linens and pulse points.

Escentric Molecules

Linen Spray

Levy loves Dans Mon Lit, a Frederic Malle floral linen spray, because of its notes of rosewater essential, musk, and Turkish rose essence. I decided to give the scent’s sibling linen fragrance, Dans Ton Lit, a try—which is a more poignant neroli, orange, and musk take. I found myself lightly spraying this on my sheets not only before bed but also in the morning after making the bed. It can give the whole room a clean, fresh, and zen feeling.

Frederic Malle

Soft Spot

If you’re a gourmand lover searching for a bedtime fragrance, this dreamy scent is for you. I love how it clouded my sheets with subtle sweetness thanks to the bergamot, jasmine, mandarin, and vanilla notes. The twang of sandalwood and musk is soothing and saccharine, and it coaxed me to sleep promptly.


Twilight Body Spray

I’ve always been a longtime fan of the signature LUSH Twilight and Sleepy scents — so I wasn’t surprised to see that O’Toole recommended this body spray. With lavender and tonka, it’s sweet, calming, and floral, and instantly made me feel peaceful and sleepy, living up to its name. I woke up rested and refreshed from my Hamlet-worthy slumber, and there’s no doubt this scent had something to do with it!

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