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Breathe in essential oils while you sleep to improve your memory

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Inhaling aromatherapy oils while you’re sleeping can dramatically improve your memory and might even make you mentally sharper.

Breathing one of the essential oils for just two hours a night for six months creates a 226 percent improvement in memory and may also regenerate cognitive function, which typically declines as we get older.

Researchers from the University of California at Irvine tested seven different scents—rose, orange, eucalyptus, lemon, peppermint, rosemary and lavender—on a group of 20 people, aged between 60 and 85, who had a diffuser by the side of their bed while they slept.   They were exposed to the different aromas for two hours a night for six months while a control group of 23 volunteers were inhaling only trace amounts of the aromas.

Both groups went through a range of tests at the start and end of the trial, which included memory exams, smell tests and brain scans.

The aromatherapy group registered a 226 percent improvement in memory tests compared to the control group, and scans revealed a greater capacity in the area of the brain that is responsible for memory and cognition.  All the oils tested seemed to have a positive effect.

“The olfactory system is the only sense that has a direct ‘superhighway’ input to the memory centres of the brain.  When olfaction is compromised, the memory centres of the brain start to deteriorate and, conversely, when people are given olfactory enrichment, their memory areas become larger and more functional,” said lead researcher Michael Leon.

A loss of a sense of smell is often an early warning of cognitive decline and mental disorders such as depression, anxiety and ADHD, he added.

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Frontiers of Neuroscience, 2023; doi: 10.3389/fnins.2023.1200448
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