Study participants exposed to their partner’s scent slept better, even though their partners weren’t physically present!
Effective as a Sleep Aid
This research basically proved that sleeping with a partner’s scent, even if it’s just on their shirt, leads to a more efficient sleeping experience. The study’s lead author, Marlise Hofer, reveals that the improvement seen is more than two percent, which is very similar to the effect of an oral melatonin supplement commonly used as a sleeping aid.
The resulting sleep data revealed that participants tossed and turned less when their partner’s scent was present, even if they weren’t told whose scent they were smelling. The researchers explain that the presence of a long-term romantic partner leads to the feeling of safety and calmness, which improves relaxation and leads to a more restful slumber.
How the Research Was Done
Tests were performed with the help of 155 participants. They were given two identical shirts, one that had their partner’s scent on it and the other that was either clean or previously worn by a stranger. The participant’s partners wore the shirt for 24 hours without using deodorant, smoking, or eating foods that can affect body odor. The participants weren’t told which shirt had which scent on it.
These shirts were used as pillowcases to expose the participants to the scent overnight. Every morning, they would fill out a survey about how they slept and how rested they felt. For an objective insight in sleep quality, an actigraphy watch was used to measure their overnight movement.
Given the promising results of this experiment, the researchers are recruiting participants for a similar study to test if infants sleep better with the scent of a parent present.