Your Partner’s T-Shirt Improves Sleep
Researchers from the University of British Columbia, Canada have found that a partner’s physical presence can evoke a sense of relaxation, calm, and safety. These positive feelings ultimately can promote better sleep.
Olfaction, also known as a sense of smell, is the most primal of our senses. Human evolution has proven that our sense of smell has been key to our survival. Smells have the power to drive our behavior and conjure positive psychological states.
The scent of love, the sense of security
The scent of a loved one can trigger a sense of security and also evoke strong personal emotional memories. To exemplify this notion, the researchers from the University of British Columbia found that sleeping with your partner’s t-shirt could be an effective (and quite simple) way of improving sleep when they are not there. Marlise Hofer, the study’s lead author said, “Our participants had an average sleep efficiency improvement of more than 2%. We saw an effect similar in size to what has been reported from taking oral melatonin supplements – often used as a sleep aid.”
The study surveyed 155 participants and their sleep patterns. Each participant was given two identical-looking t-shirts to be used as pillowcases. One of the t-shirts was worn by their partners for 24 hours, the other t-shirt was clean or worn by a stranger. For two nights, each pillowcase was used (without knowing which was which). Using an actigraphy sleep watch, which detects movements throughout the night) and next morning surveys, researchers found that the participants who slept with their partner’s t-shirts experienced better sleep quality. Participants slept for an average of nine minutes more (equivalent to more than one hour of extra sleep per week) without actually spending more time in bed. They also found that participants reported they felt more well-rested when they slept with their partner’s scent.
Frances Chen, the study’s senior author stated, “One of the most surprising findings is how a romantic partner’s scent can improve sleep quality even outside of our conscious awareness “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.”