When you learn something in the presence of a particular smell, your brain associates the two, says study author Jürgen Kornmeier, Ph.D., head of the Perception and Cognition Research Group at the University of Freiburg in Germany. Those details are stored in your hippocampus until you go to bed.
Then, during slow-wave sleep, your brain transfers some, but not all, of what you learned that day into your long-term memory. Subconsciously breathing in the same scent during that time may increase the number of details that your brain decides to store, Kornmeier explains.
The bottom line:
When you’re prepping for an upcoming presentation or meeting at work, place a particular essential oil scent nearby and move it to your nightstand when you go to bed. The study participants used rose, but other research suggests peppermint is best at enhancing memory.
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