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If you have a hard time sleeping, you might have tried everything under the sun — or, more accurately, the moon — to help yourself fall asleep at night.

Among the many natural remedies out there, pillow sprays are a popular, relatively inexpensive choice. These bottled liquids contain herbal ingredients purported to relax the body and induce sleep. Spritz the soothing stuff on your pillow, say proponents, and you’ll nod off in no time.

So, could better rest really be as simple as a quick misting of your bed linens? Here’s a look at the evidence for teh effectiveness of pillow sprays, plus six DIY recipes so you can find out for yourself.

“To my knowledge, there have been no scientific studies examining the effects of pillow spray on sleep,” says Rebecca Robbins, PhD, sleep researcher and advisor to sleep tracking device Oura Ring.

However, she points out that research from 2015 has shown that aromatherapy interventions do appear to be effective for promoting sleep.

Pillow sprays may include innumerable ingredient formulas, so it’s not surprising that research on specific blends or brands is limited. But that doesn’t mean their individual components won’t send you to dreamland.

A large body of research exists on the herbal components commonly found in sprays.

The following ingredients may have benefits for better rest:


Start down the pillow spray path and it won’t be long before you encounter lavender.

“Among [pillow spray] components, lavender is perhaps the ingredient that has been studied the most and shown to be associated with favorable sleep outcomes,” says Robbins.

A 2012 review that evaluated eight studies concluded that lavender oil might have a small-to-moderate benefit for inducing sleep.

Another 2015 study found that people who practiced good sleep hygiene and wore a patch filled with lavender essential oil at night had better sleep quality, compared with those who only practiced healthy sleep hygiene.


You might be familiar with drinking chamomile as a soothing ingredient in tea, but how about with inhaling it?

The research on chamomile oil’s dreamy effects isn’t as robust as that of lavender, but it may deserve an evidence-based place on your pillow.

A 2013 study examined the effects of a blend of Roman chamomile, lavender, and neroli essential oils on 56 patients in an intensive care unit.

Those who received the aromatherapy treatment experienced reduced anxiety levels and increased sleep quality than the control group.

However, because there were multiple oils in the blend, it’s tough to pinpoint the effects of chamomile alone.


Another standard addition to many pillow sprays is valerian. This root of a perennial flower native to Europe and Asia has been used as a sleep aid since the 1700s.

Strong evidence points to valerian as a safe and effective herbal remedy for better shut-eye.

A 2020 review and meta-analysis of 60 studies determined that this humble plant had therapeutic benefits for sleep when taken internally as a tincture in water or alcohol, including:

  • reducing anxiety
  • shortening the time it takes to fall asleep
  • improving overall sleep quality


Vetiver is a key ingredient in the best-selling commercially made pillow spray ThisWorks.

But does it, actually (work, that is)?

Despite ThisWorks’ claims that vetiver “settles nerves and establishes a feeling of balance,” the evidence for these benefits in humans is lacking. Still, animal research has shown some promise.

In one 2015 study, rats that inhaled vetiver oil displayed reduced anxious behavior. A 2020 study on rats found that a blend of vetiver and other oils reduced the animals’ levels of the stress hormone cortisol.


Similar to chamomile, bergamot is used in both essential oils and drinkable teas. It’s the ingredient that gives Earl Grey tea its signature flavor.

While a big cup of caffeinated black tea might not help you unwind, bergamot oil does appear to have relaxing properties.

In a 2015 survey, participants were given an inhaler filled with essential oils, one of which contained bergamot and sandalwood. Sixty-four percent of the participants reported an improvement in sleep quality.

Meanwhile, a 2019 study found that patients in a cardiac rehab unit who inhaled a mixture of bergamot, lavender, and ylang-ylang got significantly better rest, and even used the bathroom less at night, than those who inhaled a placebo.

Again, because bergamot was combined with other oils in these studies, it’s tough to tease apart its unique effects.

From a clinical standpoint, the jury is still out on each pillow spray’s ability to lull you to sleep. Still, don’t discount their mental impact.

For healthy sleep hygiene, experts emphasize the importance of routine. Spritzing your pillow can certainly be a step toward signaling it’s time to wind down.

“Pillow sprays with relaxing components may be beneficial in that they can be viewed as part of a relaxation ritual before bed,” explains Robbins.

Long story short: A pillow spray’s mere presence in your bedtime routine could make them a meaningful sleep aid.

Interested in checking out pillow sprays for more satisfying slumber? Homemade versions can save money and allow you to tinker until you find your favorite blend.

Consider these six recipes:

Lavender-chamomile pillow spray

From A Beautiful Mess


  • 20 drops lavender oil
  • 10 drops chamomile oil
  • 15 drops wild orange oil
  • distilled water
  • 8-oz. glass bottle


  1. Add lavender oil, chamomile oil, and wild orange oil to the bottle, then fill with distilled water.
  2. Shake well to combine.

Chamomile-bergamot pillow spray

From One Essential Community


  • 1/2 cup vodka or witch hazel
  • 5 drops Roman chamomile essential oil
  • 3 drops bergamot essential oil
  • 2 drops frankincense essential oil
  • 4-oz. spray bottle


  1. Combine all ingredients in the bottle.
  2. Shake well to combine.

Ylang-ylang pillow spray

From Wellness Mama


  • 4 drops ylang-ylang essential oil
  • 12 drops lavender essential oil
  • 8 drops bergamot essential oil
  • 1/2 tsp. vodka
  • distilled water
  • 2-oz. glass spray bottle


  1. Combine essential oils and vodka in the spray bottle.
  2. Fill almost to the top with distilled water.
  3. Shake well to combine.

Fall Asleep Fast pillow spray

From Hello Glow


  • 2 oz. vodka or witch hazel
  • 4 oz. water
  • 20 drops lavender essential oil
  • 20 drops chamomile essential oil
  • 20 drops vetiver essential oil


  1. Add ingredients to a spray bottle.
  2. Shake to combine.

Lavender-orange pillow spray

From Loving Essential Oils


  • 20 drops lavender essential oil
  • 5 drops orange essential oil
  • 2 tsp. grain-based alcohol
  • distilled water
  • 4-oz. glass spray bottle


  1. Add all oils and grain alcohol to the bottle.
  2. Fill almost to the top with distilled water.
  3. Shake to combine.

Drift Asleep pillow spray

From Oily Chic


  • 2 oz. vodka or witch hazel
  • 10 drops cedarwood essential oil
  • 5 drops lavender essential oil
  • 5 drops vetiver essential oil
  • 2 oz. distilled water
  • 4-oz. spray bottle


  1. Add vodka or witch hazel to the spray bottle, followed by essential oils and distilled water.
  2. Shake to combine.

While research suggests there are health benefits, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t monitor or regulate the purity or quality of essential oils. It’s important to talk with a healthcare professional before you begin using essential oils. Be sure to research the quality of a brand’s products. Always do a patch test before trying a new essential oil on your body.

Pillow sprays with certain herbs or essential oils may help encourage the body to rest.

The ritual of spritzing your pillow with soothing ingredients alone is a great way to signal to your mind that it’s time to get some shut-eye.

There are several simple sprays you can make at home so you can drift your way to dreamland.

Sarah Garone, NDTR, is a nutritionist, freelance health writer, and food blogger. She lives with her husband and three children in Mesa, Arizona. Find her sharing down-to-earth health and nutrition info and (mostly) healthy recipes at A Love Letter to Food.