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How Odor Cues Learning While Sleeping

How Odor Cues Learning While Sleeping

Published by Kalpana Jaggi on Mar 18th 2020

We’d all love to be able to learn faster and more effectively with less effort. Imagine all the things you could do if you could know everything you wanted to know. Actually, there are a number of ways you can actively improve your learning ability and memory, and we’re finding out more about this important field of science all the time.

A recent study on the role of odor in learning and memory has produced exciting results for aromatherapy enthusiasts. We know that our olfactory sense is one of our most powerful tools-- it’s what we’re all about here at Kalpana. So it's no surprise that our sense of smell can do powerful things for us when combined with psychological techniques.

The study, which was published in Scientific Reports, concluded that if we smell a certain odor when learning something and then sleep next to that same odor, it will be easier to remember the information we learned. Techniques that associate thoughts to things like sound and

electric stimuli are nothing new to psychology, but these techniques are even more effective when they utilise of sense of smell, which is strongly linked to memory.

Smell & Memory: A Real-World Test

Studies have suggested the link between smell and memory before. However, previous studies on the subject were conducted in a lab with professional sleep monitoring equipment. The recent Scientific Reports study wanted to test if smell could be used to benefit memory in a real-world situation.

To do this, researchers selected 54 German 6th grade students learning English. They divided the students into 4 groups.

Group 1 learned normally with no odor cues. Group 2 smelled rose scent as they studied at home and during the vocabulary test. Group 3 smelled rose scent while learning at home and every night while sleeping, but not during the vocabulary test. Group 4 smelled rose scent while studying at home, every night while sleeping, and during the vocabulary test.

The study showed that students in group 3 and 4 performed better on the vocabulary test than groups 1 & 2. This indicates that exposure to the smell during sleep is important to improving recall.

How Can You Use This?

Most of us aren’t in school anymore, but we still learn new things all the time. Whether it’s for our jobs, our kids, or just for our personal development, we all want to learn better.

You can try this technique for yourself using essential oils! The next time you are studying, trying to remember information you are reading, or learning a new skill for your work; try introducing a specific essential oil smell. If you drop the same smell on your pillow when you sleep, it may improve your recall.

Of course, there are many factors that affect how each of us learn. So, the results of the experiment may not be the same for you. However, we always love a new and interesting way to utilise aromatherapy in our lives!

Let us know if you try out this technique and if you see any results in your memory. We’d also love to hear your other questions, comments and experiences with smell and memory. If you want to pick up some great-quality essential oils to try this out yourself, head over to our shop.

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