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Hugging Benefits for Mental Health (And Beyond)

by | Aug 18, 2022

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Does someone need a hug? Whether you consider yourself to be a natural “hugger” or not, giving and receiving hugs can benefit both your physical and mental health. 

Hugging stimulates the production of the hormone oxytocin in the body. This feel-good hormone leads to feelings of less stress and improved wellbeing.[*

It gets even better because you don’t need to wait around for someone to hug you. You can reap the benefits of hugging all on your own. Let’s find out how. 


History of Hugging

Hugging and embracing one another has always been an important part of the human experience. Most babies experience their first hug at birth when they are placed into their parent’s arms. For children, hugging and embracing are important elements in their emotional upbringing. Hugging can lead to feelings of attachment and greater self-confidence.[*]

Throughout history, hugging has been viewed as a warm greeting. It is often used as a show of affection, appreciation, or gratitude. Hugs are also typically given as a way to offer congratulations or condolences among friends. A hug tends to be viewed as a warmer greeting than a handshake. [*

People who hug when greeting others are generally viewed as open and friendly. Research shows that people who grew up with frequent hugs are more likely to hug others as opposed to other forms of greeting, such as a handshake.[*] Most of us have had the experience of meeting someone new who immediately embraces us and declares that they are “a hugger.”


Mental Health Benefits of Hugging

Hugging is a powerful way to improve your health thanks to the hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin is a hormone that is released with therapeutic touch like hugging.[*] It is also released during childbirth, breastfeeding, and sexual activity. It’s produced in the hypothalamus (which is part of your brain and controls the autonomic nervous system) and has been linked to improved quality of life and enhanced feelings of wellbeing.[*] Oxytocin has anti-stress effects too. Here are just a few of the benefits you can expect from a hug.

Less Stress

There’s a reason why you usually feel calmer after hugging a loved one. A 2014 study of 404 healthy adults found that being hugged has a stress-buffering effect. The data suggested that hugging may effectively convey social support.[*] Even newborn babies display less stress after receiving a hug or light touch.[*]

Feel Better

Receiving a hug has a powerful effect on your quality of life. People who regularly hug those in their lives tend to experience better relationship functioning. They also report higher levels of overall wellbeing.[*]

Stronger Immune System

The benefits of hugging go far beyond mental health. A 2014 study found that when study participants received regular hugs, they were less likely to become sick. After being exposed to the common cold virus, the individuals who had been in the hugging group experienced less severe illness than those in the control group.[*]

Lower Blood Pressure

A 2003 study found that physical contact such as hugging or holding hands led to lower blood pressure and reduced heart rate. Even when study participants were asked to do something stressful such as giving a public speaking presentation, a hug still reduced their blood pressure and heart rates.[*]


Can You Hug Yourself?

The health benefits of hugging are exciting but what do you do if there’s no one around to hug? Fortunately, you can still score positive health outcomes by hugging yourself. 

A 2011 study found that crossing your arms across your midline can lower painful sensations in the body. Study participants received painful stimuli and noticed that the pain felt less intense when they crossed their arms in a self-hugging position. Researchers hypothesized that this hugging position may interfere with pain signals to the brain.[*] By interrupting pain signals before they reach the brain, hugging yourself reduces pain. 

To start reaping the benefits, try wrapping your arms around yourself and taking a few deep breaths. For added comfort (and deeper, more even breathing), hug the Somnox 2 Sleep Companion as you fall asleep.

You probably know how it feels to spoon someone or be spooned by someone. Somnox has been designed to be a comfortable, useful, and easy to cuddle sleep companion. Comfort is mainly ensured by the ergonomic shape of Somnox and the material used to cover it. You can hug Somnox at night like your pet – and snooze off to a better night’s rest.


Keep Hugging 

The health benefits of hugging are wide-ranging and include decreased levels of stress, lower blood pressure, and a stronger immune system. You can start adding these health benefits to your life right away. Make a note to hug your loved ones more often. And don’t forget about hugging yourself or the Somnox 2 Sleep Companion to start feeling better now. 

Want to find out if Somnox could be something for you? Then you should definitely take our sleep test!

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