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Voulez-vous coucher pour moi?

by Joana Ricou and Pooneh Heshmati


For TheBridge, a residency program by ArtScience Center.

This art/science project explores the role of smell and co-sleeping in determining happiness.  Why do we sleep with other people?  Yes, beyond sex - how does sleeping with another person affect us?

We're looking for volunteer participants for an art/science study to determine whether sleeping with the scent of another person can affect work performance and mood - think of it as a very slow type of dating... or as the oldest type of companionship.  PARTICIPATE >>


Eligible participants will be asked to sleep with a new T-shirt for three nights and mail it in.  A female subject will sleep with a small pillow made from each T-shirt and record how the experience affects her mood and quality of sleep.  If she likes the experience, she'll send a pillow back!

Would you?

Who you are

A man OR a woman (with the ability to smell!)

Lives in US

What you need to do

  • Contact us via Facebook (click Send Message)

  • We'll send you a T-shirt and an envelope

  • Wear a T-shirt to sleep for three days

  • Mail it in!

What happens next

  • X will sleep with a small pillow that contains your shirt

  • X will monitor her mood each day

  • X will send a pillow with her own shirt to some participants, you can choose to sleep with it and/or contact X back.

  • We'll share results!



Why do we sleep with other people?  In romantic relationships, sleeping together is immediately associated with sex but is that all?  It's our thought that the comfort of sleeping together is a big part of how relationships build feelings of happiness and connection - and that this bond goes beyond sexual relationships.  Be it for economic reasons (beds and bedrooms are expensive), emotional or physical safety or just for warmth, humans tend to not sleep alone.  We’re interested in bottling the scent of co-sleeping and examining its role in feelings of happiness and connection.  How comforting is it to sleep with another person?  Does it matter who it is?  Does it mean they are a compatible romantic partner?  Is it better to sleep with someone than sleeping alone?

Why scent?  Research into the microbiome and genetics hint at the effect of smell in finding romantic pairings, research into neuroscience suggests that smell plays a big role in memory.  Here we attempt to use smell as a way to project the presence of the body in the comfort and abandon of sleep.

How does it work?

  • Any volunteers who seek to participate should use the box above to contact us 

  • Volunteers will be sent a tshirt and an envelope to mail it back.

  • Participants would be asked to sleep with a T-shirt for 3 nights.  They should not alter their daily routine in any way except that they should not share their bed with another person.  At the end of the period, they would place the T-shirt in the ziplock bag and mail it back.

  • Each shirt will be sewn into a small, breathable pillow.  

  • Our tester (a female subject) will be will sleep with each pillow and record her mood, quality of sleep and productivity each morning and night.

  • The team will examine the results to confirm whether the tester felt better in general when not sleeping “alone” and whether some smells had more effect than others.

This project is organized by bioartist Joana Ricou and Pooneh Hesmati, MD PhD.


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