Wondering how that word is in the same sentence as SLEEP? Let’s find out.
The connection between the sense of smell and sleep quality is many-sided. When we consider things that affect sleep, we easily think of the light that our eyes see, the noise and music our ears hear and the touches or pressures of sleeping surfaces our bodies feel.
And this is because the impact of light, noise, music & comfort on sleep are more obvious and easily witnessed. I am most certain that you have had a personal experience of the effects of these surrounding factors on sleep.
Meanwhile, while it might not be easily noticed, smell can directly affect falling asleep and staying asleep. Smell came into existence along with their respective sources including plants, chemicals, animals, flowers, and scent-producing behaviours like eating spicy food or vigorous exercises. Smells are not just detected and identified without diverse effects; they can produce both psychological and physiological responses. It has been shown that scents can have profound and remarkable effects on spontaneous brain activities and thinking functions.
How Pleasant Smells Help?
Pleasant smell can make one feel relaxed making it easier to fall asleep. This was demonstrated by research which showed that exposure to smells that are associated with a positive mood, calmness, and relaxation may be beneficial in the lead-up to bedtime and through the night.
Conversely, a foul smell can make one unsettled with stress, anxiety or other mental over-activities, thereby contributing to poor sleep.
How is Scent Associated with Sleep?
Scents are associated with a more inviting bedroom environment. The bedroom surveys done by the Sleep Foundation in 2012 showed very large percentages of the surveyed participants aligning with the discovered knowledge. Up to 78% of people said they were more excited for bed when their sheets had a fresh scent, and 71% of people described getting more comfortable sleep with fresh sheets.
Sheets are just one source of bedtime fragrances, and there are indications that bringing other pleasant scents depending on one’s personal fragrance preference such as bath products, creams, sprays, perfumes and room fresheners into the bedroom promotes improved sleep. Any smell that creates a sense of well-being for you, inspires relaxation and calmness and reminds you of relaxed happy times, could be the best scent to boost your sleep.
You can also begin by choosing a pleasing scent of laundry detergent for cleaning your beddings, bathing and body-care products. Try a couple of options that seem pleasant to you and see if you notice a difference in your sleep patterns.
The knowledge about the effects of smell so far, provided opportunities that may improve sleep quality by creating a bedroom environment with a smell that is more conducive to falling asleep and staying asleep. This is a part of aromatherapy.
What is Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is the practice of utilizing scents from plants to try to enhance different aspects of health. Forms of aromatherapy date back to ancient Egypt and are based on the use of essential oils, which are scented liquids made with materials extracted from plants. Aromatherapy with distinct scents may promote better sleep, or even influence dreams, moods and memory formation during sleep.
Circadian rhythm, an aspect of the sleep system, influences the sense of smell. This is the part of our biological clock which is known for promoting sleepiness during the night and wakefulness during the day, but it affects other bodily processes as well. According to The Sleep Foundation researchers, smell sensitivity changes through the day in accordance with our circadian timing.
In general, the sense of smell is the strongest in the evening and weakest overnight and into the morning wee hours. This reduction in smell sensitivity through the night may explain why smells/odours generally don’t cause people to wake up from sleep.
Whether or not we are aware of it— around sleep, a fascinating world of communication is happening right under our noses!
Please, take note that exposure to pleasant odours during sleep which is associated with improved sleep quality should not replace other good sleep habits like optimizing the health and functions of the body and brain, and the holistic creation of sleep-inducing surroundings.
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