Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scents Will Not Rouse Us From Slumber, Says New Brown University Study

Date:
May 18, 2004
Source:
Brown University
Summary:
While sound can disrupt sleep, scents cannot. People cannot rely on their sense of smell to awaken them to the danger of fire, according to a new Brown University study.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- While sound can disrupt sleep, scents cannot. People cannot rely on their sense of smell to awaken them to the danger of fire, according to a new Brown University study.

Study participants easily detected odors when awake and in the early transition into sleep (Stage One sleep) but, once asleep, did not. The findings indicate a significant alteration of perceptual processing as a function of sleep.

"Human olfaction appears insufficiently sensitive and reliable to act as a sentinel system," said Rachel S. Herz, visiting assistant professor of psychology and an author of a study titled "Minimal Olfactory Perception During Sleep: Why Odor Alarms Will Not Work for Humans," published in a recent issue of the journal Sleep.

Researchers studied the effects of two scents – the pleasurable peppermint and offensive pyridine – on six participants in their early 20s.

Over two nights, participants wore an elastic chinstrap to encourage nose breathing. Researchers presented odors through a tube attached to an air-dilution device. The odors were tested during moderately deep Stage Two sleep, deep Stage Four sleep and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.

No one responded to peppermint during sleep. Responses to the intense and noxious pyridine were infrequent and did not wake any participants in the deepest stage of sleep. Pyridine is a component of coal tar and used as a herbicide for firewood, and thus a likely byproduct of many real fires, according to the authors.

However, sound woke the participants regardless of the sleep stage. A moderately loud auditory tone produced arousal from sleep virtually every time the scents did not.

Most odors stimulate people's trigeminal nerve to some degree, which is relevant to detection of the scent. Both odors used in the study were of comparable trigeminal strength even though one was pleasant and the other aversive at high concentrations.

"As the saying goes," said the paper's co-author Mary A. Carskadon, "we 'wake up and smell the coffee,' not the other way around." Carksadon is a professor of psychiatry and human behavior in the Brown Medical School and director of chronobiology at E.P. Bradley Hospital.

The research was supported by a Grass Foundation Trustee Grant and approved by the Institutional Review Board of the E.P. Bradley Hospital.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Brown University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Brown University. "Scents Will Not Rouse Us From Slumber, Says New Brown University Study." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 May 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/05/040518075747.htm>.
Brown University. (2004, May 18). Scents Will Not Rouse Us From Slumber, Says New Brown University Study. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/05/040518075747.htm
Brown University. "Scents Will Not Rouse Us From Slumber, Says New Brown University Study." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/05/040518075747.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) A recent study links apathetic feelings to a smaller brain. Researchers say the results indicate a need for apathy screening for at-risk seniors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

AP (Apr. 16, 2014) Pushing the limits on style and self-expression is a rite of passage for teens and even younger kids. How far should schools go with their dress codes? The courts have sided with schools in an era when school safety is paramount. (April 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Couples Who Sleep Less Than An Inch Apart Might Be Happiest

Couples Who Sleep Less Than An Inch Apart Might Be Happiest

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study by British researchers suggests couples' sleeping positions might reflect their happiness. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins