The scent of peppermint or cinnamon may keep you more alert and decrease your frustration when you’re behind the wheel, according to a recent study.

Dr. Bryan Raudenbush, director of undergraduate research and an associate professor of psychology at Wheeling Jesuit University in Wheeling, West Virginia, found that cinnamon and peppermint increased test subjects’ feelings of alertness and lowered frustration levels. Cinnamon also decreased driver fatigue.

The study builds on Dr. Raudenbush’s past research, which indicates peppermint and cinnamon scents enhance motivation, performance and alertness, while decreasing fatigue and stimulating the central nervous system.

“Given these results, it is reasonable to expect that the presentation of peppermint or cinnamon odor while driving may produce a more alert and conscientious driver, and minimize the fatigue associated with prolonged driving,” he says. “In general, prolonged driving led to increased anger, fatigue and physical demand, and decreased vigor. Both cinnamon and peppermint administration led to increased ratings of alertness in comparison to the no-odor control [group]. Periodic administration of these odors over long-term driving may prove beneficial in maintaining alertness and decreasing highway accidents and fatalities.”

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