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Sleep and Stress Relief With a Diffuser Humidifier

I am a writer, teacher, parent, and musician. I have fought insomnia and sleep issues for many years.


Your Diffuser Humidifier Benefits

A diffuser humidifier is a cool little unit that infuses your room with the scent of essential oils, while at the same time conditioning the air to give the atmosphere a tropical touch. It can help with healthy sleep and sleep-related issues, as well as stress relief. This article features a few of the highest-rated diffuser-humidifiers, and also discusses some of the latest research into the deep connection between scent and state of mind.

My Favorite Diffuser Humidifier


The VicTaing Diffuser Humidifier

I'm extraordinarily picky about scent, and I'm just as picky about the appearance of furnishings in my home. Some diffusers out there are just plain ugly, and very few fit into my idea of a relaxing, soothing room environment. Because I'm so picky, I like the VicTaing wood grain diffuser humidifier for its appearance, but also for its nearly silent operation. One of our favorite rooms in the house features this diffuser on a low side table. The lights are low and the furniture is comfy, and after a long day it's a perfect place to retreat to, The scent and warmth that our diffuser brings to the room is key to the rejuvenating, welcoming environment. Stress doesn't stand a chance when I'm in the Scent Room.

No wonder Sleeping Beauty looked so good...she took long naps, never got old, and didn't have to do anything but snore to get her Prince Charming.

— Olive Green

An Essential Oil Benefit: Better Sleep

One of the chief benefits of owning a diffuser humidifier is better, more restful sleep. During the winter or other dry months, humidified air is easier on breathing passages while you sleep, so many people keep one in their bedroom. I live in the upper Midwest, and it gets ridiculously cold and dry in the winter, and the warmth and moist air provided by a diffuser humidifier makes sleeping a lot easier.

The benefits of a good night's sleep are beyond dispute. According to, sleep is essential for proper immune function, metabolism, memory, and learning. While scientists aren't entirely sure why we sleep, they have figured out that sleep may have deep evolutionary roots. Sleep may give our brains time to process te day's events, sorting out which experiences are worth remembering and saving, and which can be discarded. The idea is that the brain's filing system uses sleep -- and dreaming -- to keep memories that might save us from mistakes, or worse, later in life. With this in mind, we can see why a good night's sleep is more than just a refreshing part of the day-night rotation: it can also be a matter of life or death!


The Essence of Essential Oil Therapy

Another nice benefit of these units is the essential oil feature. Since scent is closely connected to emotional well-being and stress, having warm scented air in your study, den, or bedroom can make your life just a little bit less stressful and more restful. There are essential oils and combinations (listed later in this article) that are thought to affect particular emotions and states of mind. In the morning, a nice sage or pine and spice aroma can really help get you out of the door in a good mind-set. Since you can choose from thousands of combinations, you can find the right scent for the right situation for stress relief, healthy sleep, or other key parts of well-being and balance.


Diffuser humidifiers are affordable and require little maintenance, but they can make a real difference in your mood. Spend some time in a room with warm, scented air, and your state of mind is naturally lifted.

Scent and Mood – the Latest Research

Scent and mood are closely related, which means there's a scientific basis for the ideas behind aromatherapy for the treatment of stress, at least informally. In a recent report for Scientific American, Rachel S. Herz, an assistant professor of psychology at Brown University, summarized some of what is known about the effect of scent on stress levels and state of mind. According to Herz, smells have been shown to affect people’s mood, work performance, and behavior. One interesting reason is that there are specific memories that we come to associate with specific odors. This is known as linking, and it occurs with other senses and memories as well. The connection to smell, however, is thought to be especially intense thanks to the unique mechanism by which smell connects to our brain. This gives smell a special place as the sense most associated with intense emotion.


Memory, Emotion, and Our Sense of Smell

Smell, more than any other sense, triggers memory, which in turn can stir up our emotions. This is thought to be due to the fact that scent molecules land on the part of the brain involved in emotional response. Smell, like taste, is a form of chemoreception, meaning the stimuli molecules are the direct cause of the sense that we experience. Compare this with touch, hearing, or sight, and you can see that these two senses are unique in the way that they put your brain in direct contact with substances in the environment. Furthermore, scent is a far more varied experience than taste, which has four basic categories. Smell, by contrast, has as many different elements as there are substances in the world.

It may not be surprising that it is more difficult to take in new information following a night of inadequate or disturbed sleep. What’s more surprising is that it is just as important to get a good night’s sleep after learning something new in order to process and retain the information that has been learned.


Scent and Your Mood

The essential oils activated by diffusers, candles, and other sources of scent, act directly on our emotions. If you're feeling stress, or having trouble sleeping, this is important. Smell is unique in its ability to trigger emotions thanks to the way the stimulus “lands” directly on that part of your brain that determines your state of mind and your memory. If the smell (stimulus) triggers a good memory or a relaxing sense of well-being, then you experience good emotions in a way that isn’t triggered by tasting or hearing something.

You may already be aware of this in your own life. Almost all of us have spcial memories that are easily triggered by very specific smells. The smell of fresh buttered popcorn can bring you back to going to the movies, or mothballs can remind you of a great aunt or grandmother's closets or attic -- these are memories tied to the olfactory sense (smell). The reason they're such powerful conduits to specific memories is the way in which your brain processes the sense of smell. For me, the smell of a freshly mowed lawn immediately reminds me of growing up in a small town and cutting the grass every Saturday. It’s a sweet sense of nostalgia, and it happens because those grass-scent molecules have floated through the air, into my nose, through the nasal passages, and landed right on a part of my brain. As Herz says,

“The olfactory bulbs are part of the limbic system and directly connect with limbic structures that process emotion (the amygdala) and associative learning (the hippocampus). No other sensory system has this type of intimate link with the neural areas of emotion and associative learning, therefore there is a strong neurological basis for why odors trigger emotional connections.”

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Essential Oils and Mood

With a diffuser humidifier, you can dial in a mood-lifting scent any time you want. These affordable, reliable units can actually make a difference in your state of mind and the way you sleep, depending on the kind of oils you choose.While it's true that essential oils are not the same as a medicine or drug that has made it through rigorous testing and quality control requirements, there is strong evidence that the compounds in some aromatherapy combinations do in fact have psychotropic effects. For example, lavender has been shown by several independent studies to have a positive effect on relaxation and insomnia. According to the University of Maryland website,

"The name lavender comes from the Latin root lavare, which means "to wash." Lavender may have earned this name because it was frequently used in baths to help purify the body and spirit. However, this herb has also been used as a remedy for a range of ailments from insomnia and anxiety to depression and fatigue. Research has confirmed that lavender produces slight calming, soothing, and sedative effects when its scent is inhaled." []

Here are some that are thought to affect different moods, according to

  • Alertness Basil, Bergamot, Black pepper, Grapefruit, Peppermint, Rosemary
  • Assertiveness Basil, Cedarwood, Frankincense, Ylang-Ylang, Lime
  • Concentration Lemon, Basil, Lemongrass, Rosemary, Frankincense, Chamomile Roman
  • Confidence Cypress, Fennel, Ginger, Grapefruit, Jasmine, Orange, Pine
  • Contentment Cypress, Lavender, Bergamot, Orange, Sandalwood, Cloves, Ylang-Ylang
  • Creativity Bergamot, Lemon, Frankincense, Neroli, Rose, Jasmine, Cloves
  • Focus Thyme, Lemon, Fennel, Bergamot, Basil, Cypress, Cinnamon
  • Happiness Orange, Rose, Jasmine, Ginger, Cloves, Cinnamon, Geranium
  • Joy Sandalwood, Frankincense, Lemon, Petitgrain, Orange, Bergamot
  • Peace Chamomile Roman, Neroli, Juniper, Frankincense, Melissa, Yarrow
  • Performance Bay, Bergamot, Frankincense, Lemon, Grapefruit, Lavender, Jasmine
  • Positive Basil, Lemon, Grapefruit, Myrrh, Patchouli, Geranium, Frankincense
  • Restfulness Lavender, Geranium, Clary sage, Neroli, Sandalwood
  • Self-awareness Cypress, Clary sage, Jasmine, Coriander, Cloves, Sandalwood
  • Self-esteem Jasmine, Geranium, Cedarwood, Sandalwood
  • Self-image Orange, Lavender, Melissa, Neroli, Jasmine, Sandalwood, Bay, Pine, Nutmeg
  • Stress Ginger, Cloves, Cinnamon, Geranium

When you wake up with a song stuck in your head, it means an angel sang you to sleep.

— Denise Baer

A Spa in Your Bedroom

With the right combination of light, music, and the scented environment of a diffuser humidifier, you can create a virtual spa environment in your own home. I sometimes use a diffuser and my Drift light bulb, which glows with a natural-spectrum light that slowly fades to black, recreating a sunset and easing relaxation at the end of the day. The scent of the oil and the dim lighting, combined with a custom, stress-relieving musical playlist, really works for me at the end of the day. As you can imagine, it's also a wonderful sleep aid. You will of course find your own combination of atmospherics that works for you.

Happy Relaxing!



  • Herz, Rachel S. "Do scents affect people's moods or work performance?" Scientific American.
  • Warrenburg, Stephen. "Effects of Fragrance on Emotions: Moods and Physiology." Oxford Journals, Medicine & Health & Science & Mathematics, Volume 30, Issue suppl 1.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.


Dianna Mendez on January 11, 2017:

This is new information for me on humidifiers that provide stress relief. Good to know and to research. Thanks for the valuable education.

FlourishAnyway on January 04, 2017:

I love this! I will be getting one! Thanks for the information on which scents invoke what feelings.

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