There are many products designed to help you sleep better, but it’s hard to figure out what actually works, what is worth the money, and which ones to try. Among those products are pillow mists and sprays, which utilize specific scents to help promote sleep. If you’ve never used pillow mists before or haven’t had any luck with them so far, we’re here to help.
We’ll address what a pillow mist or spray is, how to choose the right product, and how to use a pillow spray. After that, we’ll discuss whether or not the product works, along with explaining aromatherapy as a whole.
What Is a Pillow Spray?
A pillow spray is a combination of water and various essential oils1, and it’s designed to help you fall asleep more easily and sleep more soundly. Sometimes grain alcohol is also put in the spray and is used as a preservative. Since the ingredients list is so simple, you can even make a pillow mist yourself.
How To Make Your Own Pillow Spray
Making your own pillow mist is a simple process and you can definitely do it at home.
All you need for this DIY project is1:
- Distilled water
- A glass spray bottle
- The essential oil(s) of your choice
- Grain alcohol – Make sure to replace your pillow spray every 2-3 weeks if you don’t use grain alcohol
Directions for Making a Pillow Spray1:
- Add the essential oil(s) of your choice to a glass bottle
- Add grain alcohol to the glass bottle
- Swirl the oil(s) and grain alcohol together in the bottle
- Fill the rest of the bottle with distilled water
- Shake well
Best Scents for a Pillow Spray
Certain fragrances are calming, reduce anxiety, and decrease stress2. Dr. Annise Wilson with Baylor College of Medicine explains that decreasing stress and anxiety is helpful for sleep3 because “high levels of stress impair sleep by prolonging how long it takes to fall asleep and fragmenting sleep. Sleep loss triggers our body’s stress response system, leading to an elevation in stress hormones, namely cortisol, which further disrupts sleep.”
If you are looking for a pillow mist, look for something with one or more of the following essential oils:
- Lavender oil – Lavender, a floral scent, is calming and therapeutic4 and acts as a stress reliever.
- Frankincense oil – Frankincense oil has a woody and spicy fragrance5 that could help you sleep better. This scent improves your mood, thereby relaxing you and preparing your body for sleep.
- Cedarwood oil – Cedarwood is another calming woody scent that could better your sleep and reduce anxiety5.
- Chamomile oil – One study found that chamomile oil, which smells sweet and fruity with a tobacco-like undertone, helps with generalized anxiety disorder and overall sleep quality6.
- Rose oil – Rose oil, a floral scent, is an anxiolytic oil7. This means it can reduce anxiety and has a calming effect.
- Sandalwood oil – Like rose oil, sandalwood oil is also anxiolytic, so it can decrease anxiety before sleep. This oil smells like wood and leather and is slightly sweet.
- Citrus oils – Citrus oils, such as lemon oil, lemongrass oil, and orange oil, have been shown to reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression5.
Why is Lavender Pillow Spray so Popular?
Lavender pillow sprays seem to be the most popular scent for a pillow spray. As mentioned earlier, lavender is a calming, stress-relieving scent, so it makes sense that people gravitate towards this fragrance when they need help sleeping4. Lavender mists may also be popular because the scent is light and airy and isn’t as strong as some other oils that are woody or spicy.
How To Choose a Good Pillow Mist
- Avoid fragrance oils – Fragrance oils (as opposed to essential oils) are comprised of synthetic chemicals8 that are harmful, and many people are allergic to these chemicals. As such, make sure your pillow mist has essential oils, not fragrance oils.
- Read ingredient list – Pillow sprays are made of very few ingredients, so when you’re looking to buy one, read the ingredients list first. Are there a bunch of ingredients that you don’t recognize? If so, maybe pass on that product and find a pillow spray with less ingredients.
- Look into the company – Is the company that’s selling the product reliable? Read the reviews. Are people satisfied with their purchase? Have people had poor reactions to the product? All of this investigation9 can help you make an informed decision when purchasing a pillow mist.
- Smell the fragrances – It is important that you enjoy the smell of the pillow spray that you choose. So, try out some fragrances. For example, if you dislike anything that smells like wood, you should avoid mists that contain frankincense, cedarwood, and sandalwood, and instead, you should try a more floral scent.
How To Use a Pillow Spray
To use a pillow spray, you should spray the mist onto your pillow (three or four sprays) about 10-15 minutes before you go to sleep1. You can spray on the underside of your pillow if you have sensitive skin. This way, your skin isn’t making direct contact with the essential oils.
You can also spray the mist onto your pillow again if you wake up in the middle of the night and you’re unable to fall back asleep.
Do Pillow Sprays Actually Work?
While pillow mists do not guarantee sleep, they do serve as a form of aromatherapy, which is calming and relaxing for the body. Relaxation is a great step in the right direction for a good night’s rest.
What Is Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is a technique that uses essential oils as therapy. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, “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 brain9”.
As mentioned above, pillow mists are a form of aromatherapy. When sleeping, you inhale the essential oils that are contained in the pillow spray, and they eventually make their way to your brain.
Aromatherapy could even aid in the treatment of sleep disorders. Although this technique is not medically proven to help insomnia10 or other sleep disorders, aromatherapy does relax the body, which could help improve sleep quality and reduce the time it takes to fall asleep3.
Other Types of Aromatherapy
If you don’t want to spray essential oils right onto your pillow, there are other options for you. Maybe you have sensitive skin, or you just don’t want the scent so close to your nose as you fall asleep.
All of these options are great alternatives to a pillow spray:
- Body oils – Body oils are essential oils that you can massage into your skin. However if you have sensitive skin or your skin is irritated easily, this might not be the best option for you9.
- Necklaces, bracelets, keychains – These accessories are made to be absorbent, so you can put essential oils on them9. Then you can smell the essential oil of your choice throughout the day.
- Aroma stick – An aroma stick is a little plastic stick that is soaked in essential oils. Similar to a necklace, bracelet, or keychain, this stick is a portable option for you to smell essential oils.
- Essential oil diffuser – An essential oil diffuser projects fragrances into the air. Essential oil diffusers are a great option if you want to use a pillow mist, but you are afraid the direct contact will irritate your skin.
Who Shouldn’t Use Pillow Mists
Those with sensitive skin may react poorly to some essential oils, having allergic reactions or just general irritation. If you have sensitive skin you may want to try a different type of aromatherapy that doesn’t directly contact the skin, like an essential oil diffuser.
1. Do pillow mists really work?
Pillow mists act as aromatherapy to calm your body and prepare you to go to sleep. These sprays contain essential oils that relax you when you smell them. So, while pillow sprays do not guarantee that you sleep more easily, they should relax your body and prepare you for a good night of rest.
2. Can you use a pillow mist as a body spray?
Even though your skin comes in contact with the essential oils from a pillow mist when you lay your head on the pillow, we do not recommend using a pillow spray as body spray. Since the product is not designed for direct contact with your skin, you shouldn’t spray it directly onto your body.
3. What are the benefits of using pillow mist?
A pillow spray can be beneficial because it can relax you and prepare you to sleep since it is a type of aromatherapy.
4. Is using a pillow mist safe?
Yes, using a pillow mist is safe, as long as the ingredients are safe and you apply the mist as directed. Remember to avoid fragrance oils because they contain chemicals, and look for sprays that contain essential oils instead. Additionally, if your skin is sensitive, pillow sprays may irritate you. If you develop a rash or skin irritation, we recommend that you stop using a pillow mist.
5. How much pillow spray should I use?
Apply three to four sprays of pillow mist onto your pillow before bedtime. If you wake up in the night and cannot sleep, you can re-spray the same amount of mist onto your pillow.
6. Are pillow sprays safe for pets?
You can use pillow spray on your pillow if you have animals in your house. However, do not spray the mist directly onto your pets11 or into the air surrounding them. Some people use lavender sleep spray to help their dogs sleep, but we recommend consulting with your veterinarian before using pillow spray with your pets.
7. Are pillow mists worth it?
Yes, pillow mists can be worth it. While they do not guarantee sleep, pillow mists are a relaxing form of aromatherapy, which is oftentimes helpful for people who struggle to relax, fall asleep, or stay asleep.
A pillow mist can be a great addition to your nightly routine. There are lots of pillow mist fragrances that can aid sleep, so you should be able to find a scent that you prefer. You can also use different types of aromatherapy if you’d rather not have your skin come in contact with the spray on the pillow.
If you have sensitive skin, you may want to consult your physician or dermatologist before using a pillow mist. Even though pillow mists can be helpful for promoting sleep, you might also want to consult your doctor if you have a sleep disorder. There may be other ways to treat your sleep disorder more effectively than by using pillow mists or aromatherapy in general.
- Lane, Jennifer. “Lavender Essential Oil Pillow Spray Recipe For Sleep – DIY Blends”. Loving Essential Oils. Webpage accessed June 20, 2023. https://www.lovingessentialoils.com/blogs/diy-recipes/bedtime-essential-oil-pillow-spray-recipe-with-lavender-chamomile.
- Masuo, Yoshinori., Satuo, Tadaaki., Takemoto, Hiroaki., Koike, Kazuo. “Smell and Stress Response in the Brain: Review of the Connection between Chemistry and Neuropharmacology”. National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8124235/. 2021.
- Dusang, Kaylee. “How stress can affect your sleep”. Baylor College of Medicine. https://www.bcm.edu/news/how-stress-can-affect-your-sleep#:~:text=%E2%80%9CHigh%20levels%20of%20stress%20impair,disrupts%20sleep%2C%E2%80%9D%20Wilson%20explained. 2019.
- Koulivand, Peir Hossein., Khaleghi Ghadiri, Maryam., Gorji, Ali. “Lavender and the Nervous System”. National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3612440/. 2013.
- “11 Essential Oils: Their Benefits and How To Use Them”. Cleveland Clinic. Last modified December 14, 2021. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/essential-oils-101-do-they-work-how-do-you-use-them/.
- Hong Hieu, Truong., Dibas, Mahmoud., et. al. “Therapeutic efficacy and safety of chamomile for state anxiety, generalized anxiety disorder, insomnia, and sleep quality: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials and quasi-randomized trials”. National Library of Medicine. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31006899/. 2019.
- Dobetsberger, Clara., Buchbauer, Gerhard. “Actions of essential oils on the central nervous system: An updated review”. Wiley Online Library. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ffj.2045?casa_token=iuhDmR19D9MAAAAA%3AOYeyQFFpu6cP0XOYVjN8Sag0E-XjlUD-ZmUDqa3Y1sLpuowndCg7J9z5QRPJLUjH5uIOilyXnd6nYg. 2011.
- “FAQs: Fragrances”. Children’s Environmental Health Network. Webpage accessed June 20, 2023. https://cehn.org/our-work/eco-healthy-child-care/ehcc-faqs/fragrances/#:~:text=Many%20synthetic%20chemicals%20in%20fragrances,allergic%20reactions%20to%20fragrance%20chemicals.
- “Aromatherapy: Do Essential Oils Really Work?”. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Webpage accessed June 20, 2023. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/aromatherapy-do-essential-oils-really-work.
- Song, Xin., Peng, Jiahua., et. al. “Effects of aromatherapy on sleep disorders”. National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8084014/. 2021.
- Nanai, Beatrix. “Is Lavender Pillow Spray Safe For Dogs”. The Pet Grooming. Webpage accessed June 20, 2023. https://thepetgrooming.com/is-lavender-pillow-spray-safe-for-dogs/.