German scientists at the University of Mannheim found that sleeping volunteers exposed to the sweet aroma of roses experienced more pleasant emotions in their dreams. The smell of rotten eggs, on the other hand, had the opposite effect on the fifteen women who volunteered for the experiment.

During the experiment, researchers waited for the subjects to enter REM phase, the stage of sleep at which most dreams occur, and exposed the sleepers to a strong dose of smells for ten seconds, before waking them up one minute later. The volunteers were then questioned on the content of their dreams. None of the fifteen women reported smelling anything in their dreams, but the emotional tone of their dreams did change depending on the olfactory stimulus to which they were exposed.

With this dream experiment in mind, professor Boris Stuck and his team at the Mannheim University Hospital think it is possible that smells can bring about more pleasurable dreams and that this may yield important therapeutic benefits in the future.

Professor Tim Jacob, an expert in smell and taste at the University of Cardiff, says it best: “Smell is the only sense that never ‘sleeps’. The other senses have to go through the thalamus, which shuts down when we sleep.” If it is true that dreams influence our waking life, deliberate changes as simple as placing a bouquet in the bedroom could have greater implications than we think.

German scientists at the University of Mannheim found that sleeping volunteers exposed to the sweet aroma of roses experienced more pleasant emotions in their dreams. The smell of rotten eggs, on the other hand, had the opposite effect on the fifteen women who volunteered for the experiment.

During the experiment, researchers waited for the subjects to enter REM phase, the stage of sleep at which most dreams occur, and exposed the sleepers to a strong dose of smells for ten seconds, before waking them up one minute later. The volunteers were then questioned on the content of their dreams. None of the fifteen women reported smelling anything in their dreams, but the emotional tone of their dreams did change depending on the olfactory stimulus to which they were exposed.

With this dream experiment in mind, professor Boris Stuck and his team at the Mannheim University Hospital think it is possible that smells can bring about more pleasurable dreams and that this may yield important therapeutic benefits in the future.

Professor Tim Jacob, an expert in smell and taste at the University of Cardiff, says it best: “Smell is the only sense that never ‘sleeps’. The other senses have to go through the thalamus, which shuts down when we sleep.” If it is true that dreams influence our waking life, deliberate changes as simple as placing a bouquet in the bedroom could have greater implications than we think.

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