Natural learning aids: Learn more effectively with fragrances

Natural learning aids: Learn more effectively with fragrances

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Learn with scents while you sleep

Learning is often hard work. For example, if you want to learn a new language, you can't avoid repeating vocabulary. What you have learned is then consolidated in your sleep. A German research team has now shown how to improve learning success while sleeping with a simple trick.

Researchers at the University Clinic in Freiburg found that fragrances can very easily help you achieve better learning success. With the help of a simple method that anyone can do at home, the study reliably improves the memorization of learned knowledge. The results were recently presented in the recognized scientific reports.

Consolidate what you have learned in your sleep

A few years ago, a previous study showed that learning success, such as learning vocabulary, will improve if the previously learned is repeated in sleep. The study team from Freiburg has now shown that it is even easier. Fragrances can be used to stimulate the brain to store knowledge better.

How does the concept work?

While learning, you expose yourself to a fragrance of your choice, for example a scent stick. The same scent should then be released again while sleeping. According to the researchers, the brain stores what they have learned better because there is a connection between the scents and the learning phase in the brain.

Tested on schoolchildren

The research team tested the method on 54 sixth-grade students learning English vocabulary. One group used fragrance sticks with the scent of roses while studying and sleeping, the other group learned without the targeted use of fragrances. It turned out that the participants from the fragrance group remembered the vocabulary much better.

Easy implementation

The participants simply put a scent stick on the desk while learning the vocabulary. Before going to bed, they placed another scent stick on the bedside table. In addition, the participants from the fragrance group also achieved better results if a scent stick of the same smell was set up during a vocabulary test.

Reliable effect

"We were able to show that the supportive effect of fragrances works very reliably in everyday life and can be used in a targeted manner," emphasizes study leader Dr. Jürgen Kornmeier. "The pupils showed a significantly greater learning success when the fragrance sticks were used both during the learning and the sleeping phase", adds Franziska Neumann from the study team. In addition, the results indicate that the additional use of the fragrance sticks helps with the vocabulary test of memory on the jumps.

Everyday use

"It was particularly impressive that the scent also works when it is present all night," added Kornmeier. That makes the knowledge suitable for everyday use. Previous studies have indicated that the scent may only be present during a particularly sensitive sleep phase. However, since such a sleep phase can only be determined by complex measurements of brain activity, the knowledge has so far not been able to be implemented by the general public.

The nose as a learning aid

The researchers come to the conclusion that the new method can make learning while sleeping easier. Kornmeier: "Who would have thought that our nose could help a lot?" (Vb)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek


  • Franziska Neumann, Vitus Oberhauser, Jürgen Kornmeier: How odor cues help to optimize learning during sleep in a real life-setting; in: Scientific Reports, 2020,
  • Universitätsklinikum Freiburg: Perfumes improve learning while sleeping (published: January 27th, 2020),



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