Snuggle Up

woman inhaling scent of husband's shirt

If you have trouble sleeping when your partner is far from home, researchers have found a way to help you rest easy — cuddle up with a piece of their clothing. 

Researchers at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver found that having a loved one’s scent nearby could be as effective as melatonin, according to a Feb. 13 university news release.

For the study, 155 people were given two T-shirts to use as pillowcases. One had been worn by their partner; the other was either clean or had been worn by a stranger. Participants spent two consecutive nights with each shirt, not knowing which was which. After the four nights, participants reported feeling better rested after using the shirt they thought had their loved one’s scent. Sleep monitors also confirmed better sleep when they were exposed to their actual 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 senior study author Frances Chen, associate professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia. “The sleep watch data showed that participants experienced less tossing and turning when exposed to their partner’s scent, even if they weren’t aware of whose scent they were smelling.”

Now researchers are recruiting volunteers for a study to see if parents’ scents improve sleep for babies.

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