A good night’s sleep helps your brain and your memory stay strong and healthy. While you sleep, your neurons consolidate your memories, and your brain cells clear away toxic waste products.
But it doesn’t have to stop there. You can supercharge your brain’s sleep-time rejuvenation with one easy, affordable step: Add the pleasant scent of essential oils to your bedroom. The wafting aroma of certain essential oils, researchers say, can boost your memory, improve your language skills, and make a measurable difference in your cognitive abilities.
Let me show you how…
It might surprise you to know that whether you’re awake or asleep, one of the fastest, easiest routes to your brain goes through your nose. That’s why for thousands of years natural healers have used aromatherapy to treat the brain and the body. And now, modern medical researchers have finally begun to catch up with what those healers have always known – that the natural substances released from essential oils can make important changes that support better health and increased brain power.
How Nighttime Diffusion Increased Brain Power 200 Percent!
One of the latest discoveries shows that diffusing a variety of essential oils into your bedroom air at night can significantly improve your brain power as you age.
The recent study, performed at the University of California at Irvine, looked at how six months of sleeping with essential oils diffused into the nighttime air influenced the cognitive abilities of older people aged 60 to 85. At the start of the study, none of these people were experiencing obvious memory or cognitive issues.
In the test, 20 of these folks had different scents diffused in their bedrooms for two hours a night for six months – each night involved one of seven different essential oils (rose, orange, eucalyptus, lemon, peppermint, rosemary, or lavender). A control group of 23 people used diffusers that dispensed what the California researchers call only “trace amounts of odorant.”1
The results were striking: While the folks who inhaled tiny, trace amounts of aromas showed signs of cognitive decline in the six-month study, the people who inhaled the essential oil aromas while they slept experienced significant improvements in verbal learning and memory. In fact, their scores on a word list recall test improved by more than 200 percent! That’s a remarkable improvement. And researchers say it’s not a fluke because images of their brains showed beneficial changes.
Power Up Your Uncinate Fasciculus
For the essential oil users a section of the brain called the uncinate fasciculus, which helps you decipher what people are saying and how you need to respond, as well as helps with memory and learning, functioned more effectively at the end of the six months. (This part of the brain frequently falters as you grow older and declines precipitously if you get Alzheimer’s disease).
In their discussion of their results, the researchers pointed out that the sense of smell frequently deteriorates when you have Alzheimer’s, as we’ve written about before, and it also goes kaput when you suffer any of more than 70 neurological and psychiatric disorders.
Another take away from this is that the researchers suggest that by regularly stimulating your nose with a variety of scents throughout your day-to-day life you can help your brain stay healthier as you age. In other words, smell a lot of stuff! This is like how building up cognitive reserve by getting additional education and building up a resourceful brain helps to protect your thinking abilities when you’re older.
But it’s only the beginning of why you want to maintain a strong sniffer…
How Long Will You Live? The Nose Knows…
The California scientists also note that a growing amount of research shows that losing your sense of smell is linked to a shorter life expectancy. For instance, a review study from Singapore that analyzed the results of research involving more than 21,000 people found that an inability to identify odors generally meant a bigger risk of dying younger.2
And a four-year study performed at Rush University in Chicago on older people (the mean age was about 80) gave study subjects a test of 12 odors and revealed that for every additional smell these people could identify, their chances of still being alive at the end of the research generally increased by about five percent.3 While that’s a small increase, it’s substantial when you’re dealing with people in their eighth decade and beyond.
If you feel like your sense of smell is faltering, don’t worry. You may be able to retrain your ability to discern odors using essential oils.
You can find tips from a research team at the University of North Carolina here.
By the way, if you do decide to use essential oils, a word of caution: Never use them without diluting them with water first and don’t consume them or put them directly on your skin. For that reason, it makes good sense to keep essential oils away from kids and pets. Finally, don’t use them if you’re pregnant without consulting with a doctor about which ones are safe.
The Awakening From Alzheimer’s Team