Here’s a great piece of dream research that just hit the wires:
In a study of 15 healthy German women, smells in the dreamer’s environment effected their dream content. Specifically, the smells (rotten eggs for some, and roses for the luckier subjects) boosted the negative or positive emotions of dreams.
The researchers asked the women to assess the content of their dream on an emotional “coloration” scale that measured the tone of their dream. They were asked to rate the positive or negative coloration of their dream on a scale of 0 to 3. Zero was no coloration and 3 was strong coloration.
After the control stimulation, there was a slightly positive average coloration of 0.5; after the rotten egg smell, the coloration averaged -0.4; and after the rose smell, the coloration was +1.2, according to the study.
“When stimulating the subject with a positive smell, the emotional coloration was positive in nearly every case, while with negative stimulation, the emotional tone was shifted to negative,” Stuck said.
Interestingly, the dreamers did not report smelling anything foul (or rosy). Smell is one of the least-represented senses reported in dreams, so this study shows how we unconsciously process smells all the time. This is good news for those who sleep by the ocean, and bad news for those with a stinky partner.
It also presents an opportunity to enhance your dream life through aromatherapy. Careful though, smelling like roses won’t necessarily scare away all the bad dreams. Our sense of smell is deeply tied to memory and sense of place, so you might just form a negative association with that potpourri over time.
Read the entire article here.
This post reminded me of a dream in which I smelled something so foul I can even remember it today (& still almost puke at the smell of it.) It was purely a creation of my dreaming mind–it didn’t have any basis in the “external world.”
I read that putting the herb mugwort (artemisia vulgaris, with a pungent sage aroma) in your pillow would induce interesting dreams. It was in a book about herbs, pure folk wisdom, anything but scientific.
I picked a bunch of mugwort on a drizzly Easter Sunday and put some by my pillow that night. I dreamed I was in bed with a lady from another planet, and the amazing thing was, we were speaking her language, and I recall thinking in her language as I returned to wakefulness.
This is an interesting field of study, where our deepest memories (smell) are translated into emotional landscapes and possibly, as Seth suggests, into transpersonal experiences.
Seth, I wrote a bit about mugwort earlier this year: http://dreamstudies.org/2008/04/14/mugwort-helps-with-remembering-dreams/
Interesting. I rarely smell in dreams, and I wonder if that’s something i should be paying attention to in my dream journal.
I have dreams (Not the same dreams) with this AWFUL smell. The only way I can describe it is like something sweet, like cotton candy, is burning. It makes my stomach upset and it continues to be upset even after I wake. Can someone PLEASE tell me what this can be?
I JUST experienced this. Twice tonight I woke up with this burning sugar smell. The house smells normal, but in my dreams (which I don’t recall as being interesting, or related to the smell) it was really strong.
Ryan Hurd says
I wonder if there’s a bodily expression/message here about too much sugar in the diet, especially if the smell is related to a feeling like an upset stomach.