Sad Day For Odor Alarm Clock Enthusiasts

Stunning news reaches us today regarding a new Brown University study (Minimal Olfactory Perception During Sleep: Why Odor Alarms Will Not Work for Humans) concluding that scents will not rouse us from sleep.

Previously, we had reported on the Hakugen Odor Alarm Clock, a remarkable realization of Frank Herbert's odalarm from his 1977 novel The Dosadi Experiment.

Hakugen Odor Alarm Clock

Researchers studied the effects of two scents - pleasurable peppermint and offensive pyridine - on six participants in their early twenties. Over two nights, the subjects wore an elastic chinstrap to encourage nose breathing; odors were presented via a tube. Testing was done during moderately deep Stage Two sleep, deep Stage Four sleep and REM 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 the study.

However, sound woke the participants regardless of sleep stage. As the authors remarked "We wake up and smell the coffee, not the other way round."

I had such high hopes for the odalarm. Sigh.

See Science Daily for more info. Thanks to an anonymous reader for the tip on the science story.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 5/19/2004)

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