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Jan. 29, 2022, 8:27 a.m. EST

One thing you probably should be trying to help you get a better night’s sleep — but probably aren’t

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Brienne Walsh

MarketWatch Picks has highlighted these products and services because we think readers will find them useful; the MarketWatch News staff is not involved in creating this content. Links in this content may result in us earning a commission, but our recommendations are independent of any compensation that we may receive. Learn more

Millions of Amercians struggle to get a good night’s rest, and millions have tried one of the myriad items that promise a better night’s sleep.  An estimated 4% of U.S. adults aged 20 and over used prescription sleep aids in the past month, the CDC notes. And among Americans who use CBD, 42% say it’s to help with sleep and insomnia. But there’s one thing that research shows works to promote better sleep, but you don’t often hear about: a scent diffuser infused with lavender . (You can check out one of our $22 picks for a scent diffuser here , and you’ll find details on this and other picks below.)

Indeed, there’s a growing body of research that suggests that smell might also play a profound role in helping us fall, and stay asleep, says Dr. Nathaniel Fletcher Watson, the director of the Harborview Sleep Clinic and past-president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. A study published in 2012 found that essential oils such as lavender can deter minor sleep disturbances, as well as reduce anxiety. And another study published in 2019 found that pleasant or neutral odors presented during sleep may have helped allay nightmares in patients suffering from PTSD.

Lavender, in particular, seems to be an effective scent . “It can help with sleep,” Dr. Namni Goel, a professor and director of adult chronobiology and sleep medicine, biological rhythms research laboratory, at Rush University, who has studied the topic, told MarketWatch Picks. Indeed, a 2015 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, as well as a 2016 study, found that lavender improved the quality of sleep and how rested people felt when they woke up. An analysis of multiple studies on sleep and lavender published in 2012 in the European Journal of Integrative Medicine found that “lavender oil may be of small to moderate benefit” for those with sleep issues. And a 2005 study at Wesleyan University revealed that sniffing lavender improved sleep quality. ( Here are a variety of options for lavender essential oil for a diffuser from Amazon here. )

So what scent diffusers do pro reviewers love?  Here are a few.

Quiet and affordable InnoGear Essential Oil Diffuser

  • This is HGTV’s pick for the best scent diffuser with the site writing: “When it comes to features, price and aesthetics, the InnoGear essential oil diffuser wins our best overall pick.”

  • The diffuser comes in dark wood and light wood, two different tank sizes, and serves as a diffuser and a humidifier.

  • And as HGTV highlights: “Its super-quiet operation makes it a dream for bedrooms and nurseries, even if it continuously mists all night.” 

Multi-purpose URPOWER 300ml Aroma Essential Oil Diffuser

  • Named by Wirecutter as the best essential oil diffuser on the market, the URPOWER is a simple cylinder that emits scents for up to seven hours.

  • The product also functions as a nightlight with seven different colors, and can be set to emit scents for 60, 180 or 360 minutes.

  • Wirecutter notes that the light the product emits isn’t as distractingly bright as its competitors, and that it’s easy to clean.

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