Candle Buying Guide: How to Choose Candles for Your Bedroom
Adding a few candles to your bedroom not only makes your sleep space feel instantly cozier—certain scents can actually help you fall asleep faster.
The concept is similar to using essential oils for sleep: If you have the right scent wafting through your bedroom, it can promote relaxation, calmness, and yes, help you drift off into dreamland more quickly.
If you want to use the "magic" of scented candles to fall asleep faster in your home, this guide will explain everything you need to know about choosing the right candles for your bedroom.
Keep reading to learn more about the most common types of candles, candle wax, and candle wicks, the best scented candle for sleep, and tips for safely using a candle in your bedroom.
Types of candles
There are four types of candles you should be familiar with. To fall asleep, you can use a combo of all four or mix and match your favorites. Just make sure you pick at least one scented candle if you're looking to improve your sleep.
This is the most common type of candle you'll find at the store. Chances are, you may even already have a few in your home. Wax candles can be made of beeswax, soy wax, or other types of wax.
These are the candles typically made with essential oils that can help promote relaxation and better sleep. Popular scents include lavender, neroli, bergamot, and vanilla. (Here's how to make your bedroom smell better.)
Decorative candles are ones you may light periodically, but they're not ones you'd use for their scent factor. They're purely in your home for aesthetic purposes.
Types of decorative candles include:
- Pillar candles: These are the tall, cylinder-shaped candles you typically cluster together to add a decorative element to your home. You can place pillar candles in the center of a table, at the corner of a fireplace, or near an entryway table.
- Votive candles: These small candles are usually encased in glass that you use to decorate your bathroom. Votive candles are typically about 1 to 2 inches tall.
- Tea lights: Tea lights are the smallest type of candles and are shorter than votive candles. They can be used anywhere in your home for decor or ambiance.
If you're concerned about falling asleep while your candle is lit, or just want to keep a candle on for hours at a time without worrying about potential hazards, flameless candles are the way to go. These candles are generally battery-powered or rechargeable. Scented options exist if you want to use them for sleep.
Types of candle wax
Within the wax candle category, there are a variety of different waxes to choose from, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. Here's an overview of the most common types of candle wax.
Most candles in your home are likely made from soy wax. It's an affordable ingredient and has a great burn rate. Just note that this isn't the most environmentally-friendly wax type out there since it relies on the soybean industry. To produce soybeans, harmful chemicals, which contaminate the forests the soybeans are grown in, are needed.
Paraffin wax is made from petroleum, which makes it a byproduct of the oil industry. Although this isn't the most environmentally-friendly wax either, it does hold fragrance better than soy wax. So if you're shopping for candles that'll light up the whole room with a scent, this is a good wax to look out for.
The eco-friendly options are here! Beeswax is one of the most environmentally-conscious wax options for your candles since it's a byproduct of honey production. That means it's natural, renewable, and nontoxic. Non-scented, decorative candles are typically made with beeswax since it emits a naturally sweet and subtle aroma. However, beeswax doesn't hold other scents well so it's not the best option for sleep.
Coconut wax is an eco-friendly option for candle lovers who appreciate highly scented candles. It's sustainable, made from coconuts, produces little soot, and holds fragrances well. Because coconut wax holds fragrance, it's a great option for sleep.
Blended candles are a way to make more sustainable candles. If you mix soy or paraffin wax together with other types of wax, you can use less of the harmful oils that may damage the environment.
Types of candle wicks
There are a few different types of candle wicks, but most of them are made out of the same materials. Metal, cotton, or a mix of both are the most popular options. A candle with a 100% cotton wick is the healthiest choice since cotton is a natural, nontoxic material.
Whether you use a single wick or multi-wick candle is up to you. Smaller candles are usually made with single wicks, while larger candles typically have three or four wicks. If you want a candle that emits a higher fragrance, a multi-wick selection is your best bet.
Candle burn time
Many factors contribute to your candle's burn time, including the weight of your candle, the type of wax used, and the amount of chemical additives used in the candle's formula.
Generally, smaller votive candles have a burn time of about seven to nine hours for each ounce of wax that's used.
Larger candles, meanwhile, burn at a faster rate of about five to seven hours per ounce of wax used. If you want to calculate the burn time for your specific candle, check out this easy-to-use chart.
Best scented candles for sleep
Which scented candles promote better sleep and deserve a spot in your bedroom? We've compiled the best scents for sleep to make candle shopping a breeze.
One study found that participants who inhaled lavender before bed reported better sleep quality than those who didn't. Other studies have found that lavender is effective at helping to stabilize moods and treat anxiety.
Ylang-ylang is a popular scent found in perfumes, and it's also perfect to look for in a candle to help lower stress and anxiety. When participants in a Korean study inhaled a blend of ylang-ylang, lavender, and bergamot once daily for four weeks, they had lower stress, anxiety, and blood pressure by the end of the month.
Chamomile has been used as a mild sedative to help induce sleep for centuries. Chamomile's calming effects are believed to come from an antioxidant called apigenin, which helps ease the brain into relaxation. You've probably already heard of sipping chamomile tea for bedtime, so why not up the ante and sip your tea as a chamomile candle burns in the background?
While neroli isn't as popular for sleep as chamomile and lavender, you shouldn't discount it. One study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that inhaling neroli before bed helped "decrease anxiety and increase sleep quality in cancer patients" and promote better sleep overall.
Some oils, like citrus, are energizing, while others are calming. Bergamot is a calming scent and even has anti-inflammatory properties, making it relaxing for your entire body.
According to a study published in the journal Autonomic Neuroscience, participants who smelled cedrol, a compound extracted from cedarwood oil, had an increase in activity in the parasympathetic nervous system and a decrease in activity in the sympathetic nervous system.
The parasympathetic nervous system is also known as the "rest and digest system." It slows your heart rate and relaxes the muscles in your GI tract. Therefore, cedarwood can help tone down your adrenaline levels and help you fall asleep faster.
Inhaling jasmine before bed can not only help you fall asleep but can also promote more restful sleep throughout the night. If you have trouble staying asleep, this could be a great scent for you to start with.
Simply saying the word "sandalwood" makes me feel dreamy already. And the science is there to back up why this scent is so good for helping you sleep. Research has shown sandalwood has sedative-like effects that help induce sleep faster.
Vanilla might relax you by reminding you of freshly baked cookies in the oven during the holidays, but it also has real stress-reducing benefits that can help you sleep. One study showed that people who breathed in a vanilla-like scent during an MRI had less anxiety during the procedure than those who didn't.
The right way to use candles in your bedroom
Although lighting a scented candle can be a helpful tool for bedtime, practicing safety is key. Here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind when lighting candles for better sleep:
Never leave candles unattended
This one is pretty much self-explanatory. Unattended candles can lead to fire, so make sure you're alert enough to blow out your candles before you fall asleep. If you're concerned about safety, you may want to consider scented flameless candles for the bedroom.
Trim the wick before first use
Follow the instructions on your candle, but the standard is to typically trim wicks 1/3 of an inch before you burn them. This will keep the flame manageable and ensure the candle emits less smoke and soot as it burns.
Avoid putting candles near vents or windows
Where you place your candles in the bedroom is super-important. Putting candles near vents or windows could cause the flames to waft over to other flammable objects nearby.
Leave candles burning for the right amount of time
Again, instructions for burn time should be listed on the back of your candle. If you're ever unsure, a good rule of thumb is to never burn a candle for longer than three to four hours at a time.
Can candles help you fall asleep?
Candles can help you fall asleep as the perfect scent in your bedroom can promote relaxation, and calmness and help you drift off more quickly.
Do candles reduce anxiety?
Candles can help reduce anxiety as the flame is a natural light source that can calm your nerves and put you in a relaxing mood. Scented candles made with essential oils like lavender, ylang-ylang, and neroli can help decrease stress and anxiety.
For more ways to set your bedroom up for sleep, check out these health and wellness design tips.