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Scent at Bedtime

Remember when all you needed was a "spray of Jean Nate?" The art of a good night's sleep can take on new meaning when you factor in how you dress.  First Lady of Sleep Lisa Mercurio addresses the first layer - "scent," and how it may or may not set the mood for bedtime.

The scent of lavender has long been associated with bedtime and a better night’s sleep. John Parkinson, a 17th century London apothecary believed that lavender was, “especially good for all griefs and pains of the head and brain.” But what if you’re like me, a fan of great sleep and scent but not a fan of lavender?

I am a perfume fanatic, and if you were privy to my sacred stash, on neatly displayed glass shelves you would discover an assemblage of all my current favorites: Prada, Chanel, Dior, at least six or more different flavors by French parfumeur Annick Goutal, Bottega Veneta, Balenciaga, and a wide assortment of aromatics also hailing mostly from Paris and Italy.  There are some unusual smells from Serges Lutens and some custom mixes gathered through my travels too. After all, I never know what kind of mood I might be in and whether that might call for a bit more ylang-ylang or lily in the summer, or jasmine and frangipani in the winter.  I am and can be both capricious and selective.

And dressing with scent for bedtime is no different.  Too heavy and the scent might keep me awake.  I’m careful to assess what kind of mood I’m in when I prepare to tuck under the duvet.  Scent selection is a part of my bedtime ritual that also includes a shower or bath for relaxation purposes. I always factor in my state of being as well as my husband’s as my nose often knows more than I do…It’s a powerful sense – capable of casting spells that conjure up serenity, sexuality and overall well-being.  If the scent sends the wrong message and is just too overwhelming or, if somehow, I’ve opted for something that is more reminiscent of “granny” than foxy “wifey,” it can all backfire.  After all, what I wear on my skin at bedtime is just as important as what I wear or don't wear on my body. 

As a matter of preference, I tend to favor rather light scents at bedtime; never a waft of citrus or floral for sleep. An excellent way to keep things lighter is to opt for your favorite scent in a cream rather than a spray.  Is there anything more gorgeous than Prada’s perfumed body cream?  Scrumptiously indulgent, it is never overwhelming. I also favor the body creams by Sabon and use them religiously for not only are they sensual and aromatic, but they will simultaneously feed your skin with wonderful essential oils and elixirs.  Vanilla and almond are safe and soothing at bedtime as are sandalwood and patchouli, when used discriminately. Lavender alone always approaches me in a very wooden way and is generally unappealing to my senses, but when mixed with apple somehow, it takes on new meaning. Lavender Apple body scrub for the shower and bath, or lotion and cream is truly wonderful; both calming and hopeful in its appeal.

Of course, scent is not for everyone and some say that simple soap and water, the smell of fresh linens or better still, the wisp of clean, freshly cut grass and gentle, country air coming through the window is all they ever need.  Alas, after the winter we’ve had, that sounds like a plan, but for now, I think I’m going to play it safe and continue to capture perfection in a jar.

Bonne nuit.  Buona notte.  Good night.