Inhaling a pleasant fragrance while asleep has been associated with a possible
enhancement in memory, according to preliminary research. In a limited randomized controlled trial, scientists discovered that individuals with normal cognitive abilities who were exposed to an essential oil aroma for 2 hours each night over a span of 6 months exhibited a remarkable 226% improvement in memory, in contrast to a control group that only received a minimal amount of the diffused fragrance.
Moreover, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) indicated that those in the group exposed to the enriched aroma exhibited improved activity in the left uncinate fasciculus, a brain region linked to memory and cognition that typically experiences decline with age.
The regular exposure of individuals to various aromas involving mouse models has demonstrated its potential to enhance memory and neurogenesis, as outlined by the investigators. A preceding study demonstrated that subjecting individuals to distinct essential oils for half an hour each day over a period of 3 months led to the promotion of neurogenesis in both the olfactory bulb (the part of the brain that processes information about odors) and the hippocampus (the part of the brain that may be the center of memory).
The olfactory system possesses a direct 'superhighway' connection to the brain's memory centers, unlike the other senses which rely on more indirect pathways to reach these areas. As a result, the impact of the olfactory system on maintaining the health of these memory centers is significantly more pronounced. In cases where the sense of smell is impaired, the brain's memory centers begin to deteriorate. Conversely, when individuals are exposed to olfactory enrichment, their memory regions expand and exhibit enhanced functionality.
This new research may lay the groundwork for
future Alzheimer's disease and other neurological
and psychiatric disorders treatment which impact
memory and functioning such as depression,
anxiety, and ADHD.
Christy Callahan PMHNP-BC, CRNP is a psychiatric nurse practitioner at Shine Behavioral Health in Severna Park, MD.
Inhaling Pleasant Scents During Sleep Tied to a Dramatic Boost in Cognition - Medscape - Aug 08, 2023.