You may not realize it, but smell and sleep are greatly connected. In fact, the right scent can help you fall asleep faster and, in some cases, influence healthier dreams, says Alaina Ross, RN, sleep coach with SleepFamily.org.
Your nose contains olfactory neurons that connect to your brain, explains Ross. Those neurons transmit chemical signals from your environment to your brain. Therefore, if you smell a relaxing scent like lavender, that will send signals of relaxation.
The tricky thing about smell, though, is that you may not recognize if your room stinks.
“This is because your olfactory neurons and brain become accustomed to how your room smells,” says Ross. “The cells in your nose primarily help you detect new and strange scents, not ones that are commonplace daily. Over time, even if the cells in your nose detect a smell, it will signal to your brain that the information is ordinary and useless.”
While you may not notice bad odors, some common culprits contribute to a smelly room, such as pets, dirty clothes, and damp towels, according to Sara San Angelo, founder of Confessions of a Cleaning Lady.
Luckily, getting your room to smell good is an easy fix. Below are some ways to eliminate bad odors and turn your room into a calming oasis.
How to make your bedroom smell fresh
Get rid of dirty clothes and towels
It may seem harmless to keep your dirty clothes and towels piled up in the corner of your room, but San Angelo warns against it.
“When you wear clothes, they pick up sweat, bodily fluids, and skin cells from your body,” she explains. After they sit in a hamper or laundry basket, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are microorganisms, start to break down these substances and release an acrid odor.”
Her advice? Put your clothes in a hamper in a separate room, like a closet or, better yet, the laundry room.
Wash your linens regularly
You may not realize how quickly dirt, sweat, and dust can build up on your sheets. As a rule of thumb, San Angelo recommends washing bed sheets once a week, while comforters and blankets can be cleaned once a month.
Not only is changing your sheets regularly the hygienic choice—but there’s truly nothing like laying in a bed with freshly washed bed sheets.
Deodorize your rug
Rugs can also pick up a lot of odors, says San Angelo, especially if you have pets. The good news is that cleaning your rug doesn’t have to feel like such a daunting task, thanks to San Angelo’s baking soda trick.
Once a month, sprinkle baking soda on the rug to deodorize it. Let it sit for 30 minutes to an hour, then vacuum the baking soda off your carpets. It’s that easy!
Add a relaxing scent
“An essential oil diffuser is a great way to keep your bedroom smelling fresh,” says San Angelo. Light your favorite candle (we have some of the best candles for your bedroom right here). Or use a diffuser (we like Pura Fragrance Diffuser for those who need something pet-friendly) to not only add some fragrance but to cozy up your space as well.
Just note that not all scents are created equal. You’ll want to avoid citrus-based fragrances because those tend to promote energy and mental sharpness, says Ross.
Instead, go for a scent known for its relaxing properties and sleep. “The best essential oils to use for sleep are ones that are associated with relaxation, tranquility, and positive memories,” says Ross.
Below are some of our favorites:
- Chamomile: Chamomile’s calming properties are due to the antioxidant called apigenin. It sends signals to the brain that promote relaxation.
- Lavender: Research has found that lavender’s properties may help calm the nervous system and reduce anxiety. A study from 2015 even found that participants who inhaled lavender before bed reported greater sleep quality than those who didn’t.
- Ylang-ylang: Ylang-ylang is another beneficial scent known to promote relaxation, says Ross. A study from 2019 found that participants who inhaled a mixture of bergamot, lavender, and ylang-ylang reported greater sleep quality than those who inhaled the placebo oil.
How do you get rid of the smell in your bedroom?
You can get rid of odor in your bedroom by washing your linens regularly, deodorizing your bedroom rug, and keeping dirty clothes in a hamper in a separate room.
How do you make your bedroom smell fresh?
Add some essential oils to your bedroom for a fresh scent via a candle or a diffuser. Some of the best (and most relaxing!) scents for the bedroom include lavender, chamomile, and ylang-ylang.
For more ways to turn your bedroom into a tranquil oasis, here are our best tips to make your bedroom feel cozy.