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Sleep Well at Night: Smelling Your Lover's Shirt can Help You Catch Some Zzz's

Sleep Well at Night: Smelling Your Lover's Shirt can Help You Catch Some Zzz’s

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  • Your partner’s smell can influence your overall sleep quality
  • Exposure to your romantic partner's scent can improve your sleep quality naturally
  • So, smell your lover’s shirt to beat insomnia and get a good night’s sleep

Are you suffering from insomnia? If you want to get enough sleep, then start smelling your lover's shirt or scarf. A new study highlights that your romantic partner's smell can help you catch some extra Zzz's.

Forget counting sheep. If you really want a good night's sleep, all you may need is your romantic partner's favorite T-shirt wrapped around your pillow.


The scent of a romantic partner can improve sleep, suggests new psychology research from the University of British Columbia.

The research team found that study participants who were exposed to their partner's scent overnight experienced better sleep quality, even though their partner was not physically present.

"Our findings provide new evidence that merely sleeping with a partner's scent improves sleep efficiency. Our participants had an average sleep efficiency improvement of more than two percent," said Marlise Hofer, the study's lead author and a graduate student in the UBC department of psychology. "We saw an effect similar in size to what has been reported from taking oral melatonin supplements - often used as a sleep aid."

Details of the Study

For the study, the researchers analyzed sleep data from 155 participants who were given two identical-looking t-shirts to use as pillowcases - one had been previously worn by their romantic partner, and the other had either been previously worn by a stranger or was clean.

To capture body odour on the t-shirts, the participants' partners were given a clean t-shirt to wear for 24 hours, and were asked to refrain from using deodorant and scented body products, smoking, exercising and eating certain foods that could affect their body odour. The t-shirts were then frozen to preserve their scent.

Each participant was then given two shirts to place over their pillows, without being told which one was which. They spent two consecutive nights sleeping with each t-shirt. Each morning, they completed a survey about how well-rested they felt. Their sleep quality was also objectively measured using an actigraphy sleep watch that monitored their movements throughout the night. At the end of the study, participants guessed if the shirts they had been sleeping with had previously been worn by their partner.

Findings of the Study

Participants reported feeling more well-rested on the nights when they believed they were sleeping with their partner's scent. Moreover, regardless of their beliefs about scent exposure, data from the sleep watches indicated that objective sleep improved when participants were actually exposed to their partner's scent.

"One of the most surprising findings is how a romantic partner's scent can improve sleep quality even outside of our conscious awareness," said Frances Chen, the study's senior author and associate professor in the UBC department of psychology. "The sleep watch data showed that participants experienced less tossing and turning when exposed to their partners' scent, even if they weren't aware of whose scent they were smelling."

The researchers say the physical presence of a long-term romantic partner is associated with positive health outcomes such as a sense of safety, calm and relaxation, which in turn leads to better sleep. By signaling recent physical proximity, the mere scent of a partner may have similar benefits.

This research suggests that simple strategies such as taking a partner's scarf or shirt along when traveling may have measurable effects on our sleep. Future research might determine if the scent of a romantic partner has additional health benefits beyond the domains of stress and sleep.

"These findings reveal that--whether or not we are aware of it--a fascinating world of communication is happening right under our noses!" concludes Hofer.

The research team is currently recruiting participants for a pilot study to investigate whether the scent of parents can improve their infant's sleep quality.

Reference :
  1. Romance, Scent, and Sleep: The Stuff that Dreams Are Made Of - (https://www.psychologicalscience.org/news/releases/2020-02-romance-scent-sleep.html)

Source: Eurekalert

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