5 Best Incense for Sleep In 2023 (Buying Guide & Review)

If you’re in a hurry and just want to know which incense would be the best for meditation, then I would recommend,Nippon Kodo Morning Star Assortment, as your best choice. 

Our overall health benefits from adequate sleep but sleep doesn’t come easy to everyone. It’s estimated that over 70 million Americans struggle with sleep conditions. While medication is necessary in some instances, many individuals prefer to try natural alternatives first. 

Beyond increasing focus and deepening meditation, incense can offer some relief to those who find it hard to fall asleep.

If you have ever wondered about the best incense for sleep, this article will list some suggestions.

In this article, I am going to share what I have found to be the best incense for sleep.

Best Incense for Sleep

Five of The Best Incense for Sleep Reviewed

1. Best Budget Option: Nippon Kodo Morning Star Amber Incense Sticks 

Nippon Kodo is a Japanese incense company that has been in business for over 400 years. Their Morning Star incense collection has been a customer favorite for over forty years. It’s made of pure incense without a bamboo core. This is one reason why when burned, you will mostly smell amber fragrance instead of burned wood.

There aren’t any synthetic ingredients, so you can feel comfortable burning this before bed without the fear of inhaling toxins. It’s also a subtle scent that won’t overwhelm you before going to sleep. As the scent continues to linger for hours after it burns, this incense can help you remain asleep throughout the night. 

At about 4 ¾ inches long, each stick burns for approximately thirty minutes. This is right within the desired time frame to burn incense before bed. A small ceramic tile burner is included along with the 50 incense sticks.


  • Clean, low smoke content
  • Burns for 30 minutes or less
  • Creates a tranquil atmosphere
  • Subtle scent


  • There’s only one fragrance

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2. Best Value Assortment: Nippon Kodo Morning Star Assortment

Morning Star Nippon Kodo Incense - 12 Fragrance Assortment (Total 12x50, 600 Sticks) - Sandalwood, Cedarwood, Green Tea, Frankincense, Myrrh, Sage, Musk, Jasmine, Gardenia, Lavender, Amber, Lotus
  • Morning star has been one of Nippon Kodo's best-selling products over the past 40 years
  • For a mood of tranquility, peace of mind, meditation relaxation religion, traditional aroma therapy
  • Each box contains 50 sticks, total 12 boxes. 600 sticks.
  • Scent: Sandalwood, Cedarwood, Green Tea, Frankincense, Myrrh, Sage, Musk, Jasmine, Gardenia, Lavender, Amber, Lotus
  • Burning Time: approx. 30 minutes | Length: approx. 4.75 inches long

More Morning Star scents by the same brand, Nippon Kodo. This set includes an assortment of twelve fragrances:

  • Sandalwood
  • Cedarwood
  • Green Tea
  • Frankincense
  • Myrrh
  • Sage
  • Musk
  • Jasmine 
  • Gardenia
  • Lavender
  • Amber
  • Lotus

While all of these are calming, low-smoke incense sticks, I will go into more details about the benefits of burning lavender, gardenia, amber, or sandalwood further down in the article.

Cedarwood and jasmine are also sleep inducers. Along with musk, frankincense, myrrh, and sage, they combat depression and anxiety symptoms and can help a person to relieve tension. 

Although the fragrances are different, all of them are low-key, which is perfect right before going to sleep. 

Specification details are the same as above, except, you’ll receive 50 sticks of each scent, for a total of 600. 


  • Wide variety of calming fragrances
  • Low smoke
  • High quantity for long-term use
  • All natural ingredients


  • Higher price since you’ll be buying more up front
  • You may not like all of the scents

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3. Singular Fragrance Value: HEM Vanilla Incense Cones

Vanilla - Case of 12 Boxes, 10 Cones Each - HEM Incense From India
  • Hem Incense Dhoop Cones are a blend of natural ingredients and fragrances that enliven your surroundings.
  • Quantity: 1 case of 12 small boxes containing 10 cones each = 120 cones
  • Fragrance: Vanilla
  • Premium Quality Hand Crafted Vanilla Dhoop Cones With Exotic Fragrance
  • Precious Vanilla Dhoop cones creates an inspirational and enthralling atmosphere and also inspires confidence, optimism and joyfulness.

HEM incense sticks are typically smoky but since these are incense cones without a wood core, I think they are appropriate to burn prior to going to sleep. 

Each hand-rolled cone is made of natural ingredients: woods, resins, plant matter, sandalwood powder, and essential oils.

This is a case of twelve boxes with ten cones inside each box, for a total of 120 cones. A basic cone burner is also included. More about the benefits of burning vanilla incense is mentioned below.


  • Low smoke content
  • Subtle scent of fresh vanilla beans
  • Fragrance that lingers
  • Burns for up to 20 minutes


  • It’s a lot of only one fragrance

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4. Best Premium Assortment: Kousaido Organic Incense Stick Gift Set

Japanese Organic Incense Stick Gift Set in Box - 5 Types of Incense
  • The Japanese Incense Box Gift Set is a very smart gold coloured gift box containing five different tubes of organic Japanese incense
  • Each beautifully packaged tube contains 12 x 7cm long Japanese incense sticks which take 15-17 minutes to burn
  • We think the Japanese Incense Box Gift Set would be perfect for someone who enjoys good quality Japanese incense!
  • Package Measurements: 12.5 x 10.5 x 3cm

This set not only comes with an incense burner, but it is also beautifully boxed for gift-giving. There are five fragrances. Each tube contains twelve sticks of incense that are 2 ¾  inches (7cm) long. Burn time is between 15 to 17 minutes. 

Kousaido was founded in 1994 in Kyoto, Japan. It’s brand concept is, “coloring your life with incense.” Which speaks to how incense burning in Japan often invites all of the senses to participate. Also in keeping with traditional Japanese incense, all of their fragrances have a sandalwood base.

Primary notes of each blend includes: 

  • Saga-koh: sandalwood, oak moss, lily of the valley
  • Murasakino-koh: sandalwood, tuberose, jasmine
  • Gion-koh: sandalwood, ylang ylang, amber
  • Arashiyama-koh: sandalwood, borneo camphor, musk
  • Kamo-koh: sandalwood, freesia, gardenia

Since sandalwood is the base for all of them, they are likely to calm you but read about the caveat below. Overall, Japanese premium incense is even more lovely than their daily incense, so it is likely that you will feel calm and peaceful when burning these.


  • High-quality Japanese incense
  • Five fragrance blends to enjoy
  • Boxed for gifting
  • Organic ingredients
  • Low smoke content


  • Premium price
  • You may not like all of the fragrance blends

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5. Best Premium Incense: Kousaido Japanese Incense Sticks

Premium Sandalwood Japanese Incense Sticks by Kousaido - 40 Sticks
  • Our premium Sandalwood Incense is is blended by Kousaido in Kyoto, Japan, using the very finest quality sandalwood
  • Contains 40 x 7cm long incense sticks which take 15-17 minutes to burn
  • Packed in a stylish wooden gift box. An ideal present for people who appreciate premium quality incense and home fragrances

Another premium incense by Kousaido, this is a wooden box full of only sandalwood incense sticks. I didn’t mention this before, but there isn’t a wooded core. These sticks are made of incense matter that is extruded out and then dried. You may need to buy an incense holder for Japanese sticks if you try this brand.

There are a total of forty sticks that are also 2 ¾  inches (7cm) long, which burns up to 17 minutes. 


  • Clean burning
  • Pure sandalwood
  • Short burn time
  • Nice storage box


  • Only sandalwood is included
  • High premium price

== Check Price on Amazon ==

Benefits of Sleep 

Recovering from the busyness of the day is a good reason to get some sleep, but it’s not the only benefit. According to neuroscientist, Dr. Merrill Mitler, “Sleep services all aspects of our body in one way or another: molecular, energy balance, as well as intellectual function, alertness, and mood.” Getting a good night’s rest leads to better functioning throughout the day.

While getting enough sleep is important, the quality of that sleep also matters. 

As we sleep, the brain drains out toxins, organs and bodily systems cleanse and repair themselves while the body is in slumber. Nerve cells reorganize and communicate with each other. So much happens inside of the body while people sleep. This is why people are at increased risk of poor health outcomes without it.

If you are experiencing any patterns or general concerns about sleeping, definitely try to reach out to a healthcare provider or sleep specialist.  

How Can Incense Help Your Sleep?

Smells can deeply impact a person, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

While I can’t offer medical advice, there are some ways that incense has been found to help with falling asleep, which I share below.

Scents for Natural Sedation

One of the primary benefits of burning incense instead of taking sedatives is that it’s a natural way of encouraging your body to rest. 

  • Lavender. No article on fragrance and sleep is complete without mention of lavender. A person can almost instantly enter into a more relaxed state from exposure to lavender. Lavender has been found to be an effective intervention for individuals with moderate sleep disorders.
  • Chamomile.  Scientists are not completely sure of exactly how the body processes chamomile but whether it is consumed as tea or inhaled as a form of aromatherapy, chamomile effectively calms and lulls humans to sleep.
  • Gardenia (Cape Jasmine). For a natural alternative to sleeping pills, consider burning gardenia incense.
    • German researchers found this fragrance to be equally effective as prescription medication but without the side effects. This scent was found to reduce anxiety, soothe, and induce sleep. Their study focused on gardenia jasminoides or cape jasmine, which is actually a gardenia plant common to southern China and Japan. 
  • Amber. This warm, citrusy-smoky tree resin has many different uses and helping people fall asleep is one of them. Inhaling this fragrance almost immediately calms the mind,reducing stress and anxiety, helping a person to relax. It also helps strengthen the immune system and improve circulation, which can assist a person’s system as it recovers while they sleep.
  • Sandalwood. Known for its ability to reduce anxiety symptoms and calm the central nervous system, sandalwood historically helps people to relax. It has a grounding fragrance that is also known to deepen a person’s meditation experience. One caveat, though, is that it can also stimulate some people, which would not be beneficial before bed. So this is one scent that you would definitely have to experiment with to learn its effect on you. 
  • Vanilla. If you enjoy the smell of baked goods, then you might find vanilla incense helps you fall asleep. While it can improve the mood – like walking into the kitchen and smelling your favorite baked dessert – it can also have a calming effect. Vanilla can soothe the nervous system and possibly relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression. Overall, it encourages the body to relax, which can help a person fall asleep.

Incense Helps Balance Moods

Some aspects of mood improved for patients with depression after they were exposed to rose fragrances as they slept. Burning jasmine or ylang ylang have been found to do the same.

Overall Relaxation

Burning incense calms the atmosphere. Watching smoke make its way around the room can relax the mind and even reduce a person’s heart rate. As breathing slows and the mind and body relax, a person might find it easier to fall asleep.

Incense Might Improve Memory As You Sleep

German students who placed unlit rose incense sticks near the bed as they slept were found to retain English vocabulary better than the students who did not.

It’s suggested that the consistent presence of this odor cue throughout all sleep cycles might have helped the brain to store information that had been studied throughout the day.

May Improve Overall Sleep Quality

Lavender was found to improve the sleep quality of postpartum mothers after eight weeks of treatment. Inhaling lavender for twenty minutes, twice a week for twelve weeks, was also found to improve the sleep quality of women struggling with insomnia. This scent might also help a person to wake up feeling more refreshed.

So it’s possible that burning lavender incense made with essential oils can have similar positive effects.

Choosing the Best Incense for Sleep

You don’t have to toss and turn all night or stay up way past your bedtime while trying to get to sleep. Consider these points as you choose the best incense that might help you fall asleep. 

  1. Look for Natural Incense – While this term is not regulated and its meaning can vary from company to company, natural incense from my perspective is the kind that is made with non-synthetic materials. Find incense that is made from actual tree resins, botanicals, essential oils, and raw binding materials.
  2. Burn Shorter Sticks or Cones – Shorter sticks and regular-sized incense cones fully burn in fifteen minutes or less. This is perfect right before bedtime. I usually light a short stick, close my bedroom door, and then remove pillows from my bed to turn my comforter down. By the time I get in bed and take a few deep breaths, the incense is no longer burning, and I don’t have to worry about falling asleep while it’s still lit. If you only have longer sticks on hand, that is fine. Just make sure that you fully extinguish it before getting into bed.
  3. Select a Low Smoke Brand – In general, incense that is made in Japan is most often low or no-smoke incense. Indian and American incense is typically going to give off more smoke. But more important than its country of origin, high smoke content is usually an accelerant that increases fragrance and combustion. So keeping away from incense with additives can also reduce your exposure to excessive smoke. 
  4. Find the Scent That Works Well for You – The same scent can affect two people differently. While I have suggested scents that are known to help you relax and fall asleep, you might have to experiment with a few different scents before finding the ones that work best for you. The best scent to help you sleep is the one that makes you feel most relaxed.

Precautions To Consider When Burning Incense for Sleep

Incense can only be fully enjoyed when it’s burned safely. Here are some things to consider when burning incense for sleep:

  1. Choose the proper incense holder/burner – Some holders are not wide enough to catch falling ashes. Make sure that the incense holder that you use will prevent ashes from falling on any flammable surface below. 
  2. Place it on a flame-resistant surface. As an extension of the last point. Place your incense holder on an even surface that won’t catch fire from fallen ash. You also don’t want the stick hanging over the edge of a surface because that might cause the ash to fall onto the carpet. In some cases, this can spark a fire. 
  3. Make sure nothing flammable is hanging over the lit incense. Keep it away from curtains, apparel, lampshades, or anything that can potentially catch fire.
  4. Give yourself enough time. Never light the incense and then hop directly into bed. You might fall asleep sooner than you’d planned. 
  5. Keep medical conditions in mind. If you are pregnant, have a lung or vascular condition, then you will want to speak to your specialist before burning incense regularly. And remember, burning incense for sleep can never replace sleep disorder treatments prescribed by a physician.
  6. Be mindful of others’ sensitivities. Children, the elderly, and pets may not respond well when exposed to incense burning. It’s possible that being exposed to consistent and excessive incense smoke can interfere with child development. It can potentially create breathing problems for pets. For the elderly, the smoke might worsen any pre-existing cognitive, vascular, or heart problems. But the kind and amount of incense burned plays a role.
    • Lastly, both children and pets can be burned if their curiosity gets the best of them and they happen to come in direct contact with the lit incense. 

If you burn natural incense, you don’t have to worry about any pollutants being released into the air. But keep the other points in mind for your safety and the safety of those who might live with you. Having a talk with a physician can help you determine how to approach any concerns.  

Incense is just one tool to help you fall asleep. Reducing screen time about an hour before bed, turning down lights and noise, and giving yourself a few moments of silence and solitude before closing your eyes might also help.

Final Thoughts

Choosing the best incense to help you fall asleep doesn’t have to be a difficult process. Hopefully the tips above have helped you narrow down your options. 

The clear winner for me is, Nippon Kodo Morning Star Assortment because it includes so many calming fragrances made with synthetic-free ingredients and low smoke content. There are enough to experiment with, and I don’t have to extinguish the flame prematurely because they only burn for up to thirty minutes.

If I had to choose an alternative it would be, HEM Vanilla Incense Cones because they only burn for about twenty minutes, are reasonably priced, and are made using essential oils.

Grace Young

I love candles! I have personally tried over 100 brands of candles. The total burn time of these candles is over 5000 hours. I also talk about essential oil diffusers and reed diffusers. Essential oil diffusers and diffusers are also an important part of the scent in my home.

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