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Does the Smell of Coffee Help You Wake Up? Health Facts & Studies

a cup of hot coffee

If you are a coffee lover, you know that it’s tough to get your day going before that first cup. Many people report that they even start to feel better and wake up when they smell the coffee brewing, so they want to know if the aroma can be affecting them. The short answer is yes. Some studies suggest that the aroma of coffee can wake you up. Keep reading as we look at those studies and see what might be happening to you physically when you smell coffee.

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Does Coffee Aroma Wake You Up?

Rat Study

The strongest study regarding the effects of coffee aroma involves 30 sleep-deprived rats. The scientists studied the brain activity of these rats, and they noticed stronger signals coming from rats that could smell fresh-roasted coffee than from those that did not. The smelling coffee rats produced proteins with antioxidant properties that the other rats did not. This study shows that the aroma of coffee can have a physical effect on a living creature, but scientists aren’t yet sure how this study relates to humans or if it could effectively wake us up without the need to drink it.

Student Study

Another study used two groups of college kids, one that could smell the coffee and one that couldn’t. The students who could smell the coffee performed better on their exams than those who didn’t. However, further research suggests that the students likely performed better because they believed that smelling the coffee would help them instead of being physically affected by it, suggesting the scent was only a placebo and their improvements were self-induced.

asian man drinking coffee
Image Credit: Panumas Yanuthai, Shutterstock

How Might Coffee Wake Me Up?


One study found that students might perform better on a test because of the placebo effect, rather than an actual reaction to the ingredients in the beverage. However, the students still performed better, so if smelling coffee makes you feel more awake, you are, in fact, more awake, whether the coffee is responsible or not!

Increased Heartrate

If you are trying to wake up because you have been awake for too long, the smell of coffee might increase your heart rate as it brews and you wait in anticipation.


Anticipation can also give you a burst of energy to get your work finished or to get out of bed to enjoy the coffee when it’s finished.

pouring hot coffee into a cup
Image Credit: Elle Hughes, Pexels

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While a definitive scientific answer about whether the scent of coffee affects people physically may still be in progress, most agree that it helps get them moving in the morning. Smelling the coffee brewing can also help people get back to work when it’s time for another cup, so the result is the same whether coffee is a placebo or not.

Featured Image Credit By: Clay Banks, Pexels


Ed Malaker

Ed Malaker, a veteran writer, has contributed to a wide range of blogs that cover tools, pets, guitars, fitness, and computer programming, and of course, coffee. He drinks a lot of it when he writes, making him an expert indeed. When he’s not writing, Ed is usually performing DIY projects around the house or working in the garden. He’s also a musician and spends a lot of time helping people fix their guitars and composing music for independent films.

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