Is It Good To Light A Candle Before Bed?

Lighting a candle before bed has become a popular nightly ritual for many. The warm, subtle glow and pleasant aroma of a candle can create a relaxing environment conducive to unwinding at the end of the day. The practice taps into the historical use of candles extending back thousands of years. Burning a candle before turning in for the night provides a tranquil transition into rest. Many people find that this simple routine helps lull them to sleep.

History of Candle Use

The use of candles in the bedroom dates back thousands of years to ancient civilizations like Egypt, Rome, and China. Candles were initially used simply as a light source before artificial lighting was invented. The flickering flame of a candle created a warm glow and ambiance that many found calming and soothing when preparing for bed.

In ancient times, candles were made from tallow, beeswax, or whale fat. They were expensive luxuries that only the wealthy could afford in their bedrooms. The ancient Chinese made candles from wax as early as 3000 BC and burned aromatic candles made from whale fat to repel insects. In Egypt, candles lit the bedrooms of pharaohs and nobility. The Romans also developed candle-making techniques and used candles extensively throughout their households and bedrooms.

Later, in Medieval Europe, candles became more commonplace due to the Catholic Church’s influence. They used beeswax candles to light their monasteries and churches. The overnight use of candles in the bedroom also increased during this time. In Colonial America, rugged homemade tallow candles were standard in bedrooms. The 19th century saw the rise of paraffin wax candles, making them even more affordable and popular for bedroom use.

Reasons People Light Candles Before Bed

Lighting candles before bedtime has become a popular ritual for many people looking to relax, decompress, and enhance the ambience of their bedrooms for a more restful sleep. Here are some of the main reasons people choose to light candles at night:

Relaxation: The warm, gentle flicker of a flame from a candle can have a calming, hypnotic effect that eases anxiety and promotes mindfulness. Lighting candles as part of a nightly wind-down routine signals to our brains and bodies that it’s time to unwind. The ambient glow creates a soothing environment conducive to letting go of stress.

Ambience: Candles set the mood and atmosphere before bedtime. Their cozy, dim light provides a warm glow that feels welcoming and serene. The aesthetic look and feel of candlelight transforms the bedroom into a romantic, spa-like oasis perfect for rest and rejuvenation.

Scent: Scented candles release calming aromas that aid relaxation and sleep. Candle scents like lavender, chamomile, vanilla and jasmine are popular for their sleep-promoting benefits. The scent molecules enter the air and can have biochemical effects that help induce drowsiness.

Benefits of Candles Before Bed

Lighting a candle before bed can provide several benefits that lead to improved sleep quality and relaxation. The warm, gentle flame helps create a calming ambiance that tells your body and mind it’s time to wind down. This can lower stress levels and heart rate so you feel more ready for sleep.

Candles are especially useful for setting the mood and environment for rest. The soft, flickering light creates a peaceful atmosphere compared to the harsh glare of overhead and lamp lighting. This dim lighting helps stimulate production of melatonin – the sleep hormone. Breathing in the aroma therapeutic scents of candles triggers your relaxation response.

Studies show lavender and chamomile scents, in particular, can significantly decrease anxiety, lower blood pressure and heart rate, and induce drowsiness. The pleasant aromas work to soothe your senses, while the dim lighting cues your brain to start releasing melatonin. This combination primes both mind and body for falling asleep faster and staying asleep through the night.

Potential Downsides of Lighting Candles Before Bed

While lighting candles in the evening can have benefits, there are some potential downsides to consider as well. The two main concerns with lighting candles before bedtime are fire hazards and allergies.

Having an open flame near flammable materials like bedding always carries some risk of accidental fire. Candles can tip over, get too close to fabric, or burn unevenly in ways that make a fire more likely. It’s important to keep candles on a stable, non-flammable surface and away from areas where bedding could blow over it. Never leave burning candles unattended.

Allergies and scent sensitivities can also be an issue with scented candles. The smoke and fragrance from certain candles can irritate airways or cause headaches in those with allergies or asthma. Be mindful of using unscented candles or soy/beeswax candles instead of paraffin if allergies are a concern. Testing candle scents in small amounts first is also wise to ensure you don’t have a negative reaction.

With proper precautions, the risks of fires or allergic reactions to candles can be minimized. But it’s important to be aware of these potential downsides when burning candles in the evening or close to bedtime.

Safety Tips

Candles can create lovely ambiance and help people relax before bed, but they can also pose safety hazards if not used properly. Here are some tips for burning candles safely:

Proper placement – Never leave a burning candle unattended. Place candles on a stable, heat-resistant surface away from drapes, bedding, paper, books, or anything flammable. Avoid placing candles where they could be knocked over by children or pets.

Blow out before sleeping – Always extinguish candles before going to sleep. Never leave a candle burning overnight or while napping. Make sure the wick is completely out, as a smoldering wick can reignite.

With proper precautions, lighting a candle before bed can be an enjoyable and soothing ritual. But carelessness could lead to fire and injuries. Follow these common sense tips to burn candles safely.

Best Candle Scents for Sleep

When choosing a candle to burn before bedtime, opt for calming scents that can help relax both body and mind. Some of the best candle fragrances to try for better sleep include:

Lavender: This floral scent is renowned for its soothing, sleep-promoting properties. Lavender has a fresh, herbaceous aroma that can help induce feelings of tranquility and serenity before bed. Studies show lavender increases alpha waves in the brain which are associated with wakeful relaxation. The relaxing effects of lavender may help you unwind, reduce anxiety and rest better.

Chamomile: With its sweet, fruity aroma reminiscent of apples, chamomile is another excellent scent for sleeping. Chamomile contains apigenin, an antioxidant that binds to certain receptors in the brain that may promote sleepiness and reduce insomnia. Burning a chamomile candle before bed can create a warm, peaceful setting perfect for drifting off to sleep.

Jasmine: Jasmine has a rich, floral scent that is uplifting yet soothing. It has been shown to have sedative effects on the nervous system, helping induce relaxation. The sweet, pleasant fragrance of jasmine can help calm your mind, reduce anxious thoughts and make falling asleep easier. Light a jasmine candle in the bedroom to promote tranquility.

Alternatives to Candles

While candles can provide a calming ambience before bedtime, there are other options to consider that don’t involve an open flame. Two popular alternatives are essential oil diffusers and Himalayan salt lamps.

Essential oil diffusers gently release the aroma of essential oils into the air. Lavender, chamomile, and other relaxing scents can create a soothing environment to wind down before sleep. Diffusers are flameless and safer to leave on overnight. Just add a few drops of essential oil and water, and place the diffuser in your bedroom. The scent will permeate the room and promote tranquility.

Himalayan salt lamps are another alternative that sets a peaceful mood. The soft glow given off by the lamp emits negative ions that help cleanse the air. Salt lamps promote a more relaxed, balanced state to get better rest. Turn on the lamp for an hour before bed, then keep it on as a night light. The warm ambient light and clean air can make it easier to fall and stay asleep.

Both essential oil diffusers and Himalayan salt lamps provide calming alternatives to candles before bed. They come without the hazards of an open flame, and offer potential benefits for better sleep.


There are both benefits and possible downsides to lighting a candle before bed. On the positive side, candles can help create a relaxing ambiance and emit scents that are calming. The flickering light of a candle may also cue your brain that it’s time to wind down and prepare for sleep. Some studies suggest that inhaling certain essential oils from candles, like lavender, can lower stress hormones and heart rate. This can promote better sleep.

However, there are some safety concerns, especially with leaving a candle unattended. Candles pose a burn and fire hazard if not extinguished properly before falling asleep. The smoke from some scented candles may also irritate airways. Individuals with respiratory issues may want to avoid lighting candles, or choose unscented versions. If using candles at night, it’s recommended to blow them out before getting into bed to minimize risks.

Overall, candles can be part of a relaxing bedtime routine when used safely and in moderation. But alternatives like diffusers, salt lamps, or listening to calming music may provide similar benefits without the potential risks of an open flame.


Based on all of the research, there are some pros and cons to lighting candles before bed. Using candles can help create a relaxing environment and produce calming scents that may aid sleep. However, there are some safety concerns, especially with open flames near bedding. If you want to light candles before bed, be sure to take proper precautions – keep them away from flammable materials, never leave them unattended, and blow them out before going to sleep. The safest approach may be using flameless LED candles instead. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference. If you find candlelight calming and it helps you get better quality sleep, then it may be a nice addition to your bedtime routine. Just be mindful of fire hazards. Make sure you are using candles safely and blowing them out before dozing off.

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