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How scents can revive and relax you

Aromatherapy may not be the first thing you think of when it comes to boosting productivity, reviving your lagging energy or even helping you to sleep. But our sense of smell is an incredibly influential sense. Did you know it’s 10,000 times more accurate than our sense of taste?

Every time you sniff something, millions of smell receptors ping your olfactory bulbs, housed in a pea-sized cluster in your brain. This part of the brain sorts the smells and then activates your limbic system, which is where basic human behaviours (along with learning and emotions) are controlled. This is why smells may activate memories. Inhaling a familiar scent sets off a domino effect in the brain and body, from activating the immune system to altering blood pressure and even stimulating digestion (think about the reaction smelling tasty food causes when you’re hungry!).

Study after study shows that exposure to different scents can help to protect long-term health and relieve stress, pain, nausea, insomnia and improve mood. Choosing scents consciously for your bedroom can help you improve your sleep. Using a diffuser or scented candles is an easy, cost-effective, safe and attractive way to introduce smell into the bedroom.

Here are some of the sleep-inducing or energy-boosting scents you might want to try:

  • Lavender is the famous as the “rest and digest scent”, helping people to relax, sleep and digest meals (one of the reasons it’s popular in spas). It’s also used to help curb depression, anxiety, insomnia and migraine pain. Lightly spritz your pillowcase with a lavender linen spray before bed each night, or take a bath with lavender-scented products before bedtime.
  • Orange oil can help to reduce anxiety while improving a positive, calm outlook. It’s a happy, energetic smell that can pep you up. Use a few drops of essential orange oil in an oil burner or diffuser (or a bowl of steaming water) while you’re getting ready for your day in the morning.
  • Peppermint helps decrease cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and reduces fatigue. As a bonus, it’s also been shown to reduce chocolate cravings and aid digestion. Drinking peppermint tea infusion mid-afternoon can be a better pick-me-up than a caffeinated drink, which may interfere with your sleep.
  • Rosemary can enhance brain power, helping you to improve your speed and accuracy during challenging mental tasks. Research shows that it can also boost energy and reduce fatigue. A potted rosemary plant for your windowsill in your kitchen or on your desk at work means you pick a sprig and sniff as needed.
  • Chamomile has a delicate, fragrant scent. While it’s best known for its flowers, used as a soothing tea, used as a mild, relaxing sleep aid to help treat insomnia for centuries, you can also add a drop or two of chamomile oil to your bath or diffuser. Or if you prefer, spray your bed linens with a chamomile-infused linen spray.

For more fun sleep facts and expert sleep advice, visit our Sleep Blog.