Why Feng Shui Doesn’t Like Plants in Bedroom – Backed by Science

Whether plants are suitable for the bedroom is a hotly debated topic.

On one side, some of us say that plants have a rightful place in the bedroom because they produce oxygen. On the other side, Feng Shui experts state that plants are not suitable for the bedroom because they produce energy that contradicts your sleep. Here are some explanations that I found:

Plants are tree/wood energy, meaning their focus is on upward movement. Sleep is a Yin event, where energy goes down and to the quiet, quite opposite of the plant energy. –Fawn Chang, “Feng Shui Bedroom for Health? What NOT to do!

Plants have strong and vibrant energy of growth and movement – yang energy – which is not the feng shui energy recommended for the bedroom. –Rodika Tchi, “Feng Shui of Plants in the Bedroom

When you have things growing while you are sleeping, you are contradicting your calm. –Dana Claudat, “Feng Shui and Plants in the Bedroom

On first look, these explanations make sense. Perhaps Feng Shui assumes most people wouldn’t want vibrant growth and liveliness happening right next to where you sleep. After all, farmers have long known that crops like corn and sorghum grow taller at night. According to the University of California, San Diego, this behavior is known as the “evening complex”.

Corn and sorghum grow taller at night.
Corn and sorghum grow taller at night.

Maybe the “evening complex” do affect your sleep quality and how you relax at night. However, I couldn’t find any scientific publications that supports this claim.

What I did find is that plants affect your bedroom air quality, and therefore, your bedroom’s Feng Shui to some extent. Plants affect the levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide, and both directly impact your sleep quality, according to science.

Before I tell you what I think, let me present my findings from the scientific community. If you want to skip the science reports and see what I think about Feng Shui plants in bedroom, scroll to the bottom section called “Putting Science Together with Feng Shui and Historical Context”. 

Plants Release Carbon Dioxide at Night

If you think that plants produce oxygen only, you are in for a surprise.

According to University of California, Santa Barbara, plants give off about half of the carbon dioxide that they absorb in their lifetime.

Oxygen is produced when photosynthesis happens. A main ingredient for photosynthesis to take place is the presence of sunlight, where they convert carbon dioxide and water into sugar for food.

At night, however, photosynthesis cannot take place due to the lack of sunlight. As a result, they give off more carbon dioxide than they absorb, which is produced when they burn sugar as food to stay alive.

Plant Photosynthesis and Respiration Cycle
Plants respire more oxygen than carbon dioxide during the day due to photosynthesis.

A similar statement was also made in the Ask a Scientist section of the U.S. Department of Energy, which states that plants release carbon dioxide during respiration at night.

A post on BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) also published a similar finding, stating that plants need to respire, just like animals, to unlock the energy in carbohydrates produced by photosynthesis. The site also has an interactive image that shows the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide released by plants during both day and night.

But even if they release carbon dioxide and compete with you for oxygen, how do they affect your sleep?

How Carbon Dioxide Affects Sleep

If you’ve ever felt sleepy in a meeting room or classroom where you share the air with others in a confined space, you have a good idea of how carbon dioxide affects you. Higher levels of carbon dioxide in our blood can affect your concentration and make you drowsy, whereas mild levels of carbon dioxide in your blood stimulate sleep.

Since plants produce carbon dioxide at night, wouldn’t placing plants in the bedroom help you fall asleep easier and faster? Not quite.

In fact, as the night progresses, your bedroom will be filled with carbon dioxide, which can cause Hypercapnia, a condition where there is an abnormally high concentration of carbon dioxide in your blood. This condition normally triggers a reflex that increases your breathing pattern to access more oxygen.

Your brain regulates the amount of carbon dioxide in your bloodstream. So when your bedroom is filled with carbon dioxide, your breathing patterns will adjust, even when you’re asleep. You will tend to over-breathe, usually with short and frequent breaths, to compensate for the higher levels of carbon dioxide.

This change of breathing is how your sleep is disrupted. While you’re asleep, you will turn your head abruptly or move around in bed as you gasp for more oxygen.

You may toss and turn more when you have excess carbon dioxide in your bloodstream.
You may toss and turn more when you have excess carbon dioxide in your bloodstream.

This can also be the reason why some people find themselves sleeping better without their partner or significant other. Without a live human being that exhales carbon dioxide, your body will have less movements that wake you in the middle of the night.

Plants that Release Oxygen at Night

Not all plants release carbon dioxide at night. Some actually do the reverse, where they release carbon dioxide during the day and oxygen at night.

If you haven’t noticed, I love watching TED talks. The first time I learned about the existence of these types of plants was from watching this TED Talk by Kamal Meattle, embedded below:

Here’s the short scientific explanation as to why some plants have a reversed respiration cycle.

Oxygen produced by photosynthesis is trapped and cannot escape during the day. In some plants, this way of trapping oxygen is part of the plant’s DNA to protect them from loss of water from their leaves. At night time when temperatures cool down, the plants relax the pores to release the trapped oxygen.

If you want to learn more about its science, here’s a good explanation with links to two credible sources.

Since these plants produce oxygen at night, wouldn’t they be the perfect bedroom feng shui plants? Not really.

How Oxygen Affects Our Sleep

Our body needs oxygen to survive and stay active. However, we do not need as much oxygen when we go to sleep.

In fact, too much oxygen keeps us awake. For example, whenever you exercise, your blood circulates and brings more oxygen to your brain. When this happens, your mind becomes sharp and your drowsiness (if any) would go away. This is why people feel alert and awake right after a good exercise.

Other sources, such as Web MD and Fox News, have articles that teach us how to stay awake by practicing “deep breathing”, which increases oxygen intake and stimulates blood circulation to give us more energy.

So if you have plants that releases oxygen at night in your bedroom, you may find it harder to fall asleep, as you are likely to be more alert and energetic. Even if you’re asleep, you may find yourself only “sleeping lightly”, which is quite the opposite of what you want.

Excess oxygen can keep you awake or make you “sleep lightly”.
Excess oxygen can keep you awake or make you “sleep lightly”.

Further, higher levels of oxygen reduce the amount of carbon dioxide we have in our blood, which also negatively affects your sleep quality.

According to a study conducted by the National Center of Biotechnology Information, researchers found that high levels and low levels of carbon dioxide in the bloodstream negatively impacted the amount of quality sleep. They concluded that mild levels of carbon dioxide in the blood resulted in the best sleep quality, measured by sleep disruptions and the amount of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.

If you’d like to read more about its findings and experimental procedures, here’s the full science report.

Putting Science Together with Feng Shui and Historical Context

The cited science reports above tell us that too much oxygen or carbon dioxide can impact our sleep negatively. Now the question is, can plants produce enough oxygen or carbon dioxide to affect our sleep?

Of course, this depends on (1) the number of plants in the bedroom and (2) the size of the bedroom and (3) the kinds of plants in the bedroom. 

The more the plants, the more their ability to alter air quality. The bigger the size of bedroom, the more air there is for the plants to alter. And of course, it depends on whether plants that produces oxygen at night are placed in your bedroom.

However, it is also true that humans produce more carbon dioxide than plants. Then, with the same line of reasoning, this statement should also be true: Feng Shui doesn’t like more people sleeping in bedroom with you.

Right? 

Further, the human is also growing (bigger or older) and produces energy!

Well, let’s take a step back and think about Feng Shui. 

Feng Shui, if you don’t already know, is created a loooong time ago. Some concepts are based on precise calculations, and some are based on experience and passed down through culture.

As for plants in bedroom, it is neither in the Form School or the Compass School of Feng Shui. This makes it more of an experience passed down through generations.

To understand why this is an experience, let’s take a look at the living conditions of our predecessors.

In ancient China, most people are peasants. Thus, I can safely assume that many people share a room together.

Also in ancient times, people have no idea what oxygen or carbon dioxide is, and how it affects us. Which plants produce what at night is also unknown. 

But if someone were to put plants in a room full of people, I can safely assume, based on chance and probability, that the plant produces carbon dioxide at night. Thus, more carbon dioxide will be added to the room, which worsened people’s sleep exponentially.

That is why I think Feng Shui doesn’t like plants in the bedroom. That concept is based on a historical context which is no longer true in today’s living standards and knowledge we have.


Conclusion

Strictly speaking, your bedroom has one purpose – sleep. And because plants have the ability to affect our sleep (positively or negatively), they can therefore be used for bedroom feng shui.

For instance, if you share a room with 2 other roommates (like in a college dorm), then placing some oxygen producing plants may help lower the room’s carbon dioxide level. 

However, everyone has different sleep requirement. Therefore, it is better to test the type of plant and the number of plants before deciding whether plants are suitable for your bedroom. 

Over to you. Do you think plants are suitable for the bedroom? I would love to hear your thoughts. Share it with me in the comment below!

Author, blogger, and digital marketer at Feng Shui Nexus. During the day, I do marketing in the tech industry. At night, I explore all sorts of knowledge, including feng shui, ancient wisdom, big data, analytics, and science. Click here to read more about me or say hi to me on Facebook or Twitter!

Comments (31)

I moved our plants into the bedroom to remodel the living room and have had a heck of a time staying asleep. Thank you for giving me my much needed sleep back.

I’m glad to hear that, Donna!

I had a talk with a scientist, who studies plants and has a Dr degree in biology. And he laught that even if we make all bedroom full of plants and there would be no place to step because of them, all carbon dioxid produced at night would equal 1 person sleeping next to you. If you ever slept in forests or taiga- you didn’t suffer from lack of oxygen )) so from this point of view there is no warry. I’ve got a lot of plants at home

Hi Tatiana,
Thanks for your input! I totally agree with you.
The forest, however, is an open space as opposed to a concealed space like the bedroom. So in terms of carbon dioxide in the bedroom, I do think that if you open the window(s) when sleeping, or if your room is not too small, you sleep quality should be fine even if you’re surrounded by plants.
-Victor

Plants do not “compete with you for oxygen” they PRODUCE oxygen from water as a byproduct of photosynthesis. In addition, the CO2 they are respiring into your room is the same CO2 that would have been there to begin with. They would be absorbing and respiring the same CO2 that would have been in the air in your room anyways.

Thanks for your input Maria!

Funny! My grandmother who I would have been 105 if she was alive had no scientific background but believed wholeheartedly in this concept.

Hi Amanda!
Maybe she’s speaking from experience,intuition or gut feeling? Thanks for sharing your story!
-Victor

It is true that plants produce CO2 during the night but they do it in much less quantity than human beings or other animals. That means you have more risk of having hypercapnia from sleeping with someone or with your pet than from having plants in your bedroom.

Hi Juan,
You’re absolutely right. Thanks for the input!
-Victor

Our ancestors used to live in the forest for God’s sake. And the CO2 produced by the plants at night is almost negligible compared to a person sleeping beside you.

Hi Keny,
What you say is true, although the bedroom is more of a concealed space as opposed to the wide open space in the forest.
-Victor

I recently moved to a new place, and bought two beautiful orchids and one other green leafy plant that I placed in my tiny bedroom. I actually sleep great, but I do have to open the windows at night, otherwise I feel exhausted in the morning. But I think that would hold up even without the plants in the room.

Hi Gintare,
You’re right. It is true that the amount of CO2 brought by plants is nothing compared to another person sleeping in the same room. You can try it out and let me know!
-Victor

Two thoughts about all this. First, living in Florida, my central a/c is on for 6 months of the year. This means the air is my house is constantly being circulated, or stirred, so to speak. So having a LOT of indoor plants, even though none are in the bedroom, would have the same effect on the air in my bedroom at night. I’m certainly not going to remove all of my beloved houseplants! Secondly, if not having the constant air circulation, why not a mix of the nighttime oxygen and co2 producing plants to balance each other?

Hi Donnasandy,
Great ideas! I’m personally a big fan of plants, and they’re great for indoor Feng Shui too, so don’t remove them! You can definitely try having a mix of plants for air circulation.
-Victor

love the poste !!!
Thank you for your intelligent post and for helping others become more aware. You made more sense than others who speak within this same area of expertise and I am really glad I found your blog-website. I’ve joined your social networks and will keep an eye out for future great posts as well. Additionally, I have shared your site in my social networks as well. Thank you again!

I’m glad you liked it!
-Victor

Thank you for this column. I couldn’t understand why i am so exhausted and at nights even when i am tired and totally exhausted, i could not fall asleep fatigue was killing me. I had placed a plam on my husband side of the bed ,that was ok he dident mind it. Then about 3 nights ago i placed a fully grown mother in laws toung on my side. I enjoy the look of it but i can’t sleep i keep thinking this must have bee how Michael Jackson felt when he was sleep deprived just frightening .Thanks again .

Hi Sueann,
Thanks for sharing your experience! Hope you’re sleeping better now!
-Victor

Hi Victor,

Great article. I have a question, my roommate recently brought seven LARGE plants into this bedroom and has been complaining about lack of sleep. However, he doesn’t believe in science, how should I convince him he is wrong??

Thank you in advance!

Hi Ben,
That would be hard. You can ask him to experiment removing those plants to see if he gets better sleep. Ask him to give it a try and if it doesn’t work, he can always move those plants back into his bedroom.
-Victor

Hi Ben,
You can ask him to experiment removing those plants to see if he gets better sleep. Ask him to give it a try and if it doesn’t work, he can always move those plants back into his bedroom.
-Victor

Will keeping a bamboo plant in my bedroom affect my energy, my luck , if it’s bad feng shui then is it unlucky ? Please tell me and is returning back the gift I recieved ( lucky bamboo) on my birthday back to someone who gave it to me will it be unlucky ? I’m really scared of the 29 years unlucky thing pleAse help

Hi Vaishali,
Keeping a few bamboo plant in your bedroom should be ok. However, I would rather place it in my work area rather than your bedroom. Why not take it to work? The bamboo is likely filled with water, so it is important that you replace with clean water regularly. If you don’t like it, feel free to gift it to someone else.
-Victor

Unsure whether returning your bamboo gift is unlucky or not. It is however very rude.

Hi Amanda,
Returning bamboo gift is not unlucky. But yes, it can be rude for some people…
-Victor

This is the stupidest, longest, stupid article about plants i have ever read. Obviously the one who wrote this does not know anything about plants. NOT ALL PLANTS RELEASES CO2 AT NIGHT. That’s one fact. Ever heard of PEACE LILY, ORCHIDS, ALOE VERA, ARECA PALM, SPIDER PLANT, AND SO MANY OTHER PLANTS THAT RELEASES OXYGEN AT NIGHT?

Yeah, you read that right. THERE ARE PLANTS THAT RELEASES O2 AT NIGHT, AND ACTUALLY IMPROVES YOUR QUALITY OF SLEEP.

I sleep with Peace Lilies, Orchids and Chinese Evergreens in my bedroom. My bedroom has never been more fresher and my sleep quality improves A LOT. Before i put these God given plants, I could not sleep well. Afterwards, my room is so fresh i sleep like a baby and wake up smiling.

Forget these kinds of stupid articles. Plants and fengshui. Plants releasing energy at night bla bla bla. What idiot. Why not remove all TVs, cellphones, laptops, even the lights from ur bedroom too? Aren’t they producing energy? You can sleep with ur cellphone on or off and charging beside ur bed but u can’t sleep with A PLANT because it produces energy? LOL.

Do your research properly.

Plants actually HELPS YOU SLEEP BETTER!

GET PLANTS THAT RELEASES OXYGEN AT NIGHT, AND ONE OR TWO PLANTS THAT RELEASES OXYGEN AT DAYTIME. CLOSE YOUR BEDROOM DOOR AND FEEL THE DIFFERENCE BY YOURSELF.

Why mixing the plants (one that releases O2 at night and O2 in daytime)? That way your room is fresh all day long.

I live in a tropical country called Indonesia. We have 25-33 degrees celcius everyday. In other words, it’s HOT. But after i put several plants in my room, the air in my room becomes fresh and cool, I can actually turn off the aircon at night. I breathe better. Sleep better. Feels calmer. (Yes plants can give you calming effects, that’s why in hospitals when people are sick, they receive flowers (plants), not fengshui books.) There is a proven scientific research based on plants and human’s psychology. Do your research!

We “city people” often forgot how plants can affect our psychology. We live surrounded by metals, brick walls, plastic chairs, stones, and papers. We forgot that we are humans not robots. We need plants near us to feel good. We need pets near us to feel good.

Don’t believe me? TRY.

Buy yourself a peace lily. Even NASA confirmed its ability in cleaning the air from dangerous chemicals. Put in your bedroom. Depending on the size of your bedroom, you may need more than one plant.

Then close the door. Go to work. Come home. Sleep.

Thank me later.

Hi Mae,
Thanks for the comment! I hope you read the section “Plants that Release Oxygen at Night” and watched the embedded 4-minute TED talk about bedroom plants that helped the speaker with respiratory problems, as well as all the science reports that I linked out in this article.
You definitely pointed out a big flaw about the “energy” part when you mentioned all the home electronics.
Upon more understanding about Feng Shui, many practitioners today misuse the word “energy”, as I laid out in the article about crystals and Feng Shui: https://fengshuinexus.com/blog/can-crystalshelp-with-feng-shui/. But aside from that, the reasoning behind why Feng Shui says plants should be avoided should be traced back to its historical context. People from probably 100 years ago and more all did not know about oxygen and CO2, and which plants produce which. This could be just another of the “cultural Feng Shui” practice that’s passed down, but modern practitioners still apply them without understanding why they’re not applicable in today’s living environment (city) and standards. One example is why restrooms are not bad Feng Shui by default (anymore), but many practitioners still say they are: https://fengshuinexus.com/blog/truth-about-bathrooms-bad-feng-shui/
Again, thanks for sharing your experience and the context!
-Victor

Hi Victor,

Great article and very informative! Would you be so kind to advise on ZZ plants ? Would you recommend having a small one in a bedroom? I just bought one and was contemplating on putting it in my bedroom. Do you think this plant will affect my quality of sleep? Kindly please advise. Thank you so much!

Kind regards,
Karl

Hi Karl,
I don’t know much about ZZ plant, but I would definitely suggest that you try it out. At the same time, please take note on whether your windows are open or closed.
-Victor

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