Wool rustles gently as jackets and coats are unpacked. Pumpkin spice sprinkles into the foam of a still-steaming latte. Footfalls pick up a telltale crunch. Fall is full of wholly unique sights, tastes and sounds. Smells, however, are what genuinely set this beautiful season apart from the rest of the year. Beyond the pure pleasure of coming home to an autumn bouquet, fall's smells can also work to help you fall asleep more quickly, and to get more restful sleep when you do drift off.
Writing for the Huffington Post, Dr. Marlynn Wei emphasized how powerful scents can be for the sleep-deprived. The olfactory nerve, responsible for conveying the sense of smell, communicates directly with the brain, "... including the limbic system and amygdala, which are in charge of emotions, mood, and memory." Wei goes on to explain that these systems also interact closely with autonomic nerve function. Scientists theorize that scents are responsible for visceral physical reactions that persist after the olfactory stimulus has passed. To put it simply, scents have great power to excite and to sooth. Though still an "alternative" practice, the neural link Wei writes of may mean the benefits of aromatherapy are more substantial than just a fragrant home. "Studies have shown that specific essential oils used in aromatherapy can help relieve stress, relax the body, and promote better sleep," she writes.
Better sleep, huh? Now you're talking our language. We did a little research and found that one of the easiest ways to introduce an aromatherapy practice into your life is with the application of a water-diluted concentration of essential oils to the areas in which you spend a great deal of time. If you're anything like us, then the bed sounds like a perfect candidate. There are more varieties and vendors of essential oils out there than you could shake an herb bundle at, with endless mix-and-match possibilities. That being the case, we'll simply rank our favorite autumn essences here, and as always, provide you your local source for the world's best bedding on which to apply them.
5. Caramel apple
Sticky, sweet, and oh-so-satisfying, the only thing better than sinking your teeth into autumn's first caramel apple is having the sweet-tart scent follow you all the way home. Caramel apples are a classic calling card of fall festivals and hayrides all over the south. Now, bringing that smell home means a lot less clean up.
Just imagine drifting off to the sugary, toasty scent of warm, gooey caramel. Then, after your sweet dreams, you can wake up with the subtle, crisp snap of apple fragrance. An apple aroma is the ideal motivator to get you out of bed and to (hopefully) grab a healthy breakfast. You can finally enjoy the best of this quintessentially autumn treat in bed without fear of a sticky end.
Sauce or juice is likely the first thing on your mind when we get to talking cranberry, but these little ruby treasures of fall harvest time have a unique, "refreshing" scent. We have to qualify "refreshing" because this one is definitely a point of contention. Many find the bitterness, or as it translates to smell, sourness of the cranberry off-putting. If you're on the fence, why not give it a try? You may find the snap-to scent the ideal way to up your alertness in the AM.
3. Pecan Pie
Of course, we're all about giving every smell its fair shake, but you might just pick up a little favoritism in this next entry.
Pecan Pie is a symphony of flavors and textures, found ubiquitously on Thanksgiving tables across the country. The spicy and savory character of roasted pecans makes for a scent profile that's a treat all its own. Pecan pie's aroma really knocks it out of the park when paired with the sugary smell, of gooey filling and the distinct odor of buttery crust. The smell of pecan pie is as fall-rich as the taste.
For many of us, an early fall camping trip is one of the brightest sparks in our autumn memories. Since smell and memory are so neurologically linked, it stands to reason that smoky, woody scents can bring us right back to childhood, sitting on a log, roasting marshmallows with friends and family. Earthy peat, dried leaves and pine straw, along with hints of fresh pine round out the accents to an idyllic campfire scent scene.
1. Pumpkin Spice
You knew this one was coming. We just couldn't resist. Pumpkin spice has grown to be the granddaddy of all fall flavor and smell combos. Having come to prominence in the past few years thanks in large part to everyone's favorite coffee chain, pumpkin spice brings a lot to the table. It wraps up the sweet, earthiness of the indispensible fall vegetable, with a cinnamon-y snap and the bitter bite of nutmeg. Try it with faint hints of coffee to evoke the undisputed king of fall beverages.