Can We Smell In Our Dreams?

source: *Lemmy-X on deviantArt

source: *Lemmy-X on deviantArt

I woke up in the middle of the night at about 3am with the weirdest feeling. I had just experienced olfactory perception in my dream (if it’s even possible for us to ‘perceive’ in our dreams, but let’s not go into the philosophical arguments). Obviously, some details will be lost from my recollection of my dream, but I have tried my best to record my experience almost immediately upon waking up from the dream.I dreamt that I was sniffing my arm, and it was perfumed. There was a note of lime that wasn’t sharp or zesty, but rather blended with oriental, leather and balsamic notes. There was also a hint of florals, and I’m afraid that this is as specific as I can remember. When I woke up, the name Paloma was stuck in my mind. I did a quick google search and it revealed that there is actually a perfume called Paloma Picasso Mon Parfum. Now this was very strange, because I had never consciously registered the name ‘Paloma‘ as being that of a perfume, so evidently my subconscious had stored away information that must have been obtained somehow by my peripheral vision. Reading through reviews of what vintage Paloma Picasso Mon Parfum* smells like, I am haunted by a burning desire to try it because of the strange way I have become aware of it.

I’m not sure if the olfactive dream I had was affected in any way by the fact that I had lightly spritzed some Cuir Ottoman on my neck just before heading to bed. I’m also unsure if such a dream was induced by the exam preparation stress that I am under. Curious, I decided to do some research on the matter:

In 1998,researchers at McGill University in Montreal asked 164 people whether they had ever experienced sensations of smell or taste in their dreams; 41% of women said yes, as did 35% of men. The McGill team also gave the participants a bedside log in which to write their dreams each morning. They ended up collecting 3,372 dream reports. About half of these mentioned auditory impressions but only 1% mentioned smell. The diaries also revealed a huge sex difference. As in so many other measures of odor perception, women are more tuned in than men: odorous dreams were recorded in the diaries of 20.9% of women but only 2.0% of men. It appears that dream smelling is a widespread but low frequency phenomenon: in other words, it’s something many people have experienced but not all that often.


The article ended with the following words:

Smell-oriented people—those who identify odors accurately and imagine them vividly—tend to dream in smell as well. Olfactory talent shows itself all around the clock.

Is it possible that I dreamt in smell because I’m smell-oriented? Does being a perfume lover lead to perfumed dreams? This was certainly a strange but pleasant experience.

Have you ever smelt in your dreams? If so, what was it like?

~ The Smelly Vagabond

* If any kind soul out there could send me a small sample of vintage Paloma Picasso Mon Parfum, I would be most grateful.

8 thoughts on “Can We Smell In Our Dreams?

  1. Not quite an ofactory dream, but a few days back I dreamt that i was searching all over the Hermes store for its latest eau de narcisse bleu. i had gone all the way to London to get to the store, but it was no where to be found. I combed the entire store for it and, after a while, found that all the sales assistants were wearing a new scent i suspected was ENB! it was a transparent, citrus, and marine at the same time. can’t wait to smell it.

  2. I don’t think I’ve ever dreamt a smell or even just about a perfume (I’m not a real perfumista probably) but I definitely had a dream about food and eating something tasty… or was it about going to eat something tasty? I don’t remember. But I’m envious.

    I haven’t smelled vintage Paloma but I have a mini bottle of the relatively current one and if you do not find anything I can send you a sample from it. I like it but will probably never really wear.

    • Hi Undina,

      I do hope you have a fragrant dream someday! I’ve never had a dream where I’ve tasted anything although I’ve definitely daydreamed about eating yummy food! An thanks for the offer o send me a sample of Paloma Picasso – it’s not necessary because I immediately sprang to eBay the very same day and secured myself a full bottle. That’s how obsessed I was! When something appears in your dreams, it’s a sign! But thank you nevertheless, you are very kind indeed 🙂

      Wishing you fragrant dreams!

  3. Today I had a dream where I could identify the smell (baby soap/powder) and remember about it even after I woke up. I found the experience very strange so I googled for ‘remember smell in dream’ and landed on this post….
    Thank you for sharing your experience!

  4. Hi there 😉 I just found your post after doing a little research on dreams & smells… How’s the perfume going? Has it opened up any interesting doors? I had a strange dream last night ~ I remember snippets. But the thing I distinctly remember is a scent that was there, like oils – strong and spicy – orange and cinnamon notes, and just delicious really. I was very conscious of it while I was dreaming and woke up pretty perplexed as the scent was so real! I’m going to seek out a mix of similar oils I think… and much like you said, perhaps it is a sign (which was why I was curious about how the perfume was going ;)) anyways, thanks for sharing!

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