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If you have trouble falling asleep, toss and turn through the night, wake up just to start the process all over again, and spend your days exhausted and irritable, you’re not alone…
In fact, it’s estimated that up to 70 million Americans live with a sleep disorder and a whopping 70 percent of us struggle with sleep at least one night each month.
And, considering what a big role sleep plays in our overall health, that’s a real problem. When you don’t get good sleep you can end up with:
- A weakened immune system
- Poor attention, alertness, concentration, reasoning, and problem solving
- Lack of sex drive
- Inability to lose weight
Lack of sleep can also put you at risk for a host of other health issues, from heart disease and stroke to diabetes and irregular heartbeat.
So, is it any wonder that not getting the sleep you need is one of the fastest ways to make sure you simply don’t feel your best?
Not at all. And, that’s why good sleep is so vital.
Luckily, thanks to a new study from researchers at the University of British Columbia, there’s a new weapon that you can holster in your sleep arsenal to help you rest better — as long as it passes the smell test.
The smell of love
The researchers started with one idea…
Since past tests have proven that the actual physical presence of a long-term romantic partner is associated with positive health outcomes (such as a sense of safety, calm and relaxation, which in turn leads to better sleep), why couldn’t simply being surrounded by their smell do the same?
So, they decided to test their theory.
They recruited 155 participants, who were given two identical-looking t-shirts to use as pillowcases — one had been previously worn by their romantic partner, and the other had either been previously worn by a stranger or was clean.
Without being told which one was which, the participants spent two consecutive nights sleeping with each t-shirt. Each morning, they completed a survey about how well-rested they felt. And, the research team tracked their sleep quality, using an actigraphy sleep watch that monitored their movements throughout the night. At the end of the study, participants guessed if the shirts they had been sleeping with had previously been worn by their partner.
And, here’s the answer to the question those researchers started with…
Participants reported feeling more well-rested on the nights when they believed they were sleeping with their partner’s scent.
To top it off, regardless of their beliefs about the scent they spent the night sniffing, data from the sleep watches showed that sleep really was improved when participants were actually exposed to their partner’s scent.
Yup, simply inhaling the scent of the one you love while you sleep really can help you rest better.
“One of the most surprising findings is how a romantic partner’s scent can improve sleep quality even outside of our conscious awareness,” said Frances Chen, the study’s senior author and associate professor in the UBC department of psychology. “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.”
The researchers say that average sleep efficiency was improved by more than two percent — similar to the effects of taking a melatonin supplement — by sleeping with a romantic partner’s shirt.
So, if you’re having trouble sleeping, you might want to skip the sleep aids and instead use the scent of love to help you get the rest you need. Get your life partner to wear the shirt for 24 hours, without scented body products or deodorants and then use it like a pillowcase. It just might be the best sleep of your life.
- 10 Things to Hate About Sleep Loss — WebMD
- The State of SleepHealth in America — SleepHealth
- Smelling your lover’s shirt could improve your sleep — EurekAlert