The Science of Hugs

            You probably use hugs to express your love for your family and friends. You might also use them as a way of saying hello and goodbye when you meet good friends. It could be that you really haven’t given much thought to hugs at all!  But you know, there really is a lot of science surrounding the entire “hug” experience!

Fact is, hugs really can boost our happiness levels!  And there has been scientific research done which actually can show this.  Put simply, a good hug is the fastest way for you to get your body’s naturally made chemical, oxytocin, flowing in your body. Oxytocin calms your nervous system and boosts your positive emotions. A good hug can result in lowering of your blood pressure, which is particularly helpful if you’re feeling anxious.  It also lowers another one of your body’s other naturally occurring chemicals, cortisol, which is made during times of stress!  This decrease enables you to sleep better.   Best of all, a hug can increase your feelings of social connections and sense of belonging.

Because of these findings it might be no surprise that studies have also shown that couples who hug more are more likely to stay together, and that families who practice this are closer and experience less disagreements. Scientists have also reported that hugs can actually reduce pain!

 A Few Facts About Hugs and the Benefits that they can provide to us:

  • Hugging is natural, organic, naturally sweet, free of pesticides and preservatives.
  • Hugging contains no artificial ingredients. It's 100% wholesome!
  • There are no calories, no caffeine, and no nicotine.
  • Hugging is nearly perfect. There are no removable parts, no batteries to wear out, no periodic checkups needed.  
  • It uses little energy, although it yields a lot!
  • Hugging is inflation-proof.
  • It's nonfattening.
  • There are no monthly payments.
  • No insurance requirements.
  • It's theft-proof, nontaxable, nonpolluting, and fully refundable.
  • And it costs very little.
  • Hugging is healthy. It assists the body's immune system; it can help cure depression,
  • It reduces stress, it induces sleep, it invigorates, and it rejuvenates,
  • And it has no unpleasant side effects.

 Hugging is no less than a miracle drug!

 It has been suggested that:

  • Every human being needs four hugs per day merely to survive.
  • Eight hugs per day to maintain oneself at a strong emotional level.
  • Twelve hugs per day to grow and become a better person.

For those who aren't always comfortable with giving or receiving the traditional hug, There are other ways to provide similar positive health benefits to you, and to others. These are kindnesses extended towards others, and truly are another type of “Hug”:

  • A kind word.
  • A touch.
  • A loving smile.
  • A "Thank you!"
  • A "Forgive me."
  • A "Can I help you?"
  • An "I'm Sorry."
  • And anything else you can do to make a person feel good about him or herself.


Jayme Ellerbe, CPNP at Alaska Center for Pediatrics