CANDLES AS A NATURAL SLEEPING AID
How Can Candles Help You Sleep?
Tossing and turning in bed, unable to fall asleep right away, or waking up exhausted every morning? You know you need to change your sleeping habits but you’re not sure where to start.
There are so many different tips on the internet for getting great sleep. But did you know that simply lighting a natural candle can help your daily internal clock reset, helping you fall asleep easily and wake up refreshed every morning?
We know it sounds crazy! But here is how, so keep reading...
Our body has a natural clock that we call our circadian rhythm.
According to the NIH (National Institute of General Medicine Science), “Circadian rhythms are physical, mental, and behavioral changes that follow a 24-hour cycle. These natural processes respond primarily to light and dark and affect most living things, including animals, plants, and microbes.”
Dr. Satchin Panda, a circadian biologist at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, says:
"The bottom line is that almost every hormone, every brain chemical, every digestive enzyme and so on is pre-programmed to peak at a certain time of the day and then tap out at another time of the day. It’s an in-built schedule for different programs to do different things at the optimal time, and these timing mechanisms are the circadian rhythm[s]."
In other words, our circadian rhythms are vital to telling our bodies when to feel sleepy and when to feel awake. Our circadian rhythms do even more things. They affect hormone releases, eating habits, body temperature, mood, cognitive function, immune system, and risk for mental illness and dementia.
They play a role in almost everything our body does.
How does this have anything to do with candles, you ask?
Our internal clocks are heavily influenced by light and schedule. Creating healthy habits around rituals and lighting is vital to keeping our circadian rhythms healthy, our sleep restful, and our mood relaxed. You can easily do this through candles.
The Power of Scent
Natural candles smell nice. We know smell has intense psychological effects because we know we can be brought back to an old memory with just one specific scent.
According to one study, citrus fragrance, for example, has a positive effect on immune function and depression. 12 depressed patients reported lower use of anti-depressants after being exposed to citrus fragrance.
But smells affect sleep as well.
Lavender, chamomile, bergamot, sandalwood, and jasmine oil are just a few scents that have been linked to priming our bodies for sleep. Choosing a natural candle with these notes can put you in the mood for sleep, relaxation, or elicit happy feelings.
Natural Sleeping Aid
Melatonin is a natural hormone in the body that aids in sleep and triggers our circadian rhythm to do its job. It is the body’s naturally produced sleeping aid, helping your body realize it is nighttime and time to sleep.
While there are supplements on the market, how do we get our bodies to naturally produce melatonin when we need it?
All About those Lights
It is very common to hear nowadays that blue light is bad for you, or turn off screens before bed, but why is this?
First of all, does light really have a color?
Yes, and no. Our eyes perceive certain wavelengths to have different hues. These different hues affect our hormone levels and mood. This mainly happens because of the effect of light on our body’s natural circadian rhythms.
Blue light or the light of a blue-ish hue from electronics is scientifically proven to reduce the body’s natural melatonin secretion. This means that looking at or being near blue light before bed can make your body not feel sleepy.
Blue light wavelengths are so powerful that they can affect the circadian rhythms of blind people.
You may think it’s calming to look at a screen before bed, but scrolling our phones, or watching TV is not only not relaxing, but it is actually disruptive to our Circadian Rhythm. Once you fall asleep, exposure to artificial lighting during the day can still impact how restful your sleep is at night.
During sleep, your brain cycles through four stages of sleep, several times per night, from light sleep to deep sleep to rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and back again.
Excessive exposure to artificial lights at night can disrupt the transitions between these cycles of sleep. Your sleep quality suffers, and you may even find yourself waking up during the night, decreasing the amount of time you spend in essential REM sleep. The following day, thanks to your poor sleep, you may feel less rested upon waking up and feel grumpier and less focused than usual.
As a result, founding new sleep habits is important. Let’s start with relaxation.
There are only three sources of Natural Light; candle light (a.k.a. flame) being one of them. The red light of the Flame helps stimulate the production of melatonin. Your brain releases more melatonin as darkness falls and tends to release less when you’re exposed to light.
So it is very important to switch all of your blue and white lights to red lights a couple of hours before bed time, preferably between 8:00pm -9:00pm). You can easily do that with lighting a candle.
True Relaxation Routine
True Relaxation is both a mental and physical state of being. Your muscles are fluid and not tense. Your mind is present while you actively, without judgment, bring it from wandering.
While initially, this can be difficult, creating a true relaxation habit can be aided by candles. James Clear, the bestselling author of the book Atomic Habits, writes, “All big things come from small beginnings.”
The easiest small beginning to a nighttime relaxation routine is lighting a soothing candle. The pleasant memory of scent and light will help you associate your nighttime routine with pleasantness and relaxation.
Not only that, but the best light for relaxation is red or amber light. This color has been shown to increase our melatonin levels at night before we turn all the lights off. The easiest way to surround yourself with this sleepy, or relaxing color light is by lighting a natural candle. The homey warm light will calm your senses and make you ready for sleep. Choose a candle with a scent you like and double the relaxation benefits.
Even better, turn off the electronics and even the electronic lights and live by candlelight for a couple of hours before bed. Your sleep and overall health will improve!
You do not want to buy any candles, however...
Many candles on the marketplace today are made with harsh chemicals and toxic synthetic fragrances that will cancel out the light and aromatherapy benefits candles can have. To avoid this, your best choice is a natural candle.
Natural candles are made with a natural wax (often soy or sometimes coconut oil or beeswax) and have a natural scent made from essential oils – not toxic fragrances. The scent is released gradually without being overbearing. Natural candles also burn longer, don’t contribute to CO2 levels, and are not made with carcinogenic substances. This peace of mind alone might help you relax better at night.
Natural Sleep Checklist
Before you go, I want to give you a checklist of five tips for better sleep with the help of a natural candle.
Natural Sleeping Aid Checklist
- A Nighttime Routine
- A relaxation ritual
- No blue light for two hours before bed time
- Turn off all artificial lights and turn on a natural candle with a scent that helps you relax
With these tips, we know you will notice a difference in your sleep and or your mood the next day.
- Sanja Hadrovic, Founder and Anika Suurkask
Photo Source: Open Sourced Workplace