Research by Hofer, Marlise; & Chen, Frances (2020). The scent of a good night’s sleep: Olfactory cues of aromantic partner improve sleep efficiency. Psychological Science, 31(4), 449–459. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797620905615
Written by Robin N. Fatovic M.S.
Can your partner’s scent impact your sleep quality?
Previous research shows that a partner’s scent can reduce stress and increase a sense of security. Psychology researchers studied whether the scent could also impact sleep quality. 155 people in romantic relationships received two T-shirts: one worn 24 hours by their partner and another by a stranger. They slept with them for 2 nights each. They wore monitors to track how often they woke up to measure sleep efficiency and length. Daily they reported how rested they felt after sleeping with the shirts.
Results? Participants reported better sleep quality and sleep efficiency when they unknowingly slept with their partner’s shirt; they slept 9 additional minutes on those nights. Their sleep efficiency improved by 2%, which is similar to the impact of melatonin supplements on sleep. They perceived even better sleep quality during the nights when they believed they were sleeping with their partner’s shirt.
Our sense of smell and the emotion centers are near each other in our brains. Use scents to change your sleep quality. When your partner isn’t home, try cuddling or sleeping with a piece of your loved one’s clothing!