If you are someone who has trouble sleeping and find it’s worse when you are away from your significant other, you’re not alone, and there is something you can do about that! At least; according to information that was published in the journal Psychological Science.
“Close contact with loved ones is known to have positive effects on health (reductions in stress, improved sleep, etc.). I was interested in how loved ones impacted health outcomes and whether their scent alone could carry similar benefits,” explained Marlise Hofer, the corresponding author of the study.
This study involved 115 participants and was focused on how scent of a loved one affected their sleep patterns.
How it worked was that Hofer and her co-author, Frances Chen, first had one member of a heterosexual couple in a long-term relationship wear a plain cotton T-shirt for 24 hours. During this time, the wearer was asked to avoid activities that could alter their usual scent, such as eating spicy food or doing vigorous exercise. They were also told to avoid perfume, cologne, and antiperspirants.
The researchers then gave the second member of the couple an actigraphy device to wear on their wrist to record their sleep/wake intervals. Then provided them with two identical shirts. One had been previously worn by their partner and another had either been previously worn by a stranger or was scent free. The participants were unaware of which shirt was which. The second member of the couple then slept with one shirt placed over their pillow for the following 4 nights.
After controlling for attachment style, relationship length and quality, stress level, day of the week, order of scent exposure, and type of control scent, the researchers found that exposure to the scent of a partner was associated with increased sleep efficiency. When a participant used their partner’s scent-bearing T-shirt, they experienced an average of over nine additional minutes of sleep per night.
Anyone who has trouble sleeping can tell you that nine additional minutes of sleep can make a big difference. Find more in the study in Psychological Science.