Perspectives on interpersonal touch are related to subjective sleep quality

Dueren, A.L.; Bowling, Natalie; Vafeiadou, Aikaterini; Madrid-Valero, J.J.; Hammond, Claudia; Gregory, Alice M. and Banissy, Michael J.. 2023. Perspectives on interpersonal touch are related to subjective sleep quality. Journal of Sleep Research, 32(3), e13766. ISSN 0962-1105 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Affective touch has been reported for its calming effects; however, it is less clear whether touch is associated with sleep. Here, the relationship between different touch variables and self-reported sleep indicators was investigated. Data were extracted from the Touch Test, a cross-sectional survey conducted in 2020. Data from a sample of 15049 healthy adults from the UK (mean age = 56.13, SD = 13.8; 75.4% female) were analysed. Participants were asked to attribute positive, negative or no effects on sleep to hugs, strokes, massages, intimate touch, and sleep onset with and without touch. The time since last intentional touch, touch amount satisfaction, and childhood bed routine with hugs and kisses were assessed. Sleep quality, -duration, -latency, wake after sleep onset and diurnal preference were measured. Data were analysed using chi-square tests and logistic regressions. Affective touch before sleep was perceived to have positive effects on sleep. Touch recency emerged as a significant predictor for some sleep variables, with a longer timespan since last intentional touch relating to improved sleep quality, longer sleep duration, and shorter and fewer instances of waking up after sleep onset in some participants. Experiencing too much touch was related to lower sleep quality and higher instances of waking up after sleep onset. These findings highlight the importance of interpersonal touch for subjective sleep quality.

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Additional Information:

Funding: This project was supported by and run in collaboration with the Wellcome Collection. MJB is supported by the ESRC (grant no. ES/R007527/1).

Data Access Statement:

Data availability: The data that support the findings of this study are openly available at


sleep; touch; ct-afferent; c-tactile; co-sleep

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1 October 2022Accepted
9 November 2022Published Online
June 2023Published

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Date Deposited:

11 Oct 2022 10:16

Last Modified:

31 May 2023 03:51

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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