Thank you, Tokyo Reporter, for tweeting the link to this story published today by The Asahi Shimbun:
“Pillow talk” can provide a soothing experience, even for people alone in bed.
A group of Japanese researchers said that embracing a “dakimakura” (hug pillow) while talking on a cellphone installed inside can significantly reduce mental stress levels.
The researchers are from Osaka University and the Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International (ATR), an organization jointly operated by the public and private sectors based in Seika, Kyoto Prefecture. ATR last year developed “Hugvie,” a human-shaped huggable cushion with a cellphone in the head portion, that was used in the experiment.
Eighteen women around 65 years old volunteered for the study. Nine had a phone conversation through Hugvie while nine used conventional cellphones. Each of them talked for 15 minutes with a same male student on the same topics, including, “What was interesting last year?”
After the conversations ended, the researchers tested the women’s blood and saliva to record changes in the amount of hormone called cortisol, which increases when the person has high stress levels.
They found that cortisol levels in the women who talked through Hugvie decreased much more drastically than in the women who used conventional cellphones.
“The effects from hugging are higher than those previously thought,” said group leader Hiroshi Ishiguro, professor of robot engineering at Osaka University’s Graduate School of Engineering Science.
The results of their experiment were recently announced in a British science magazine. The group plans to continue the research to confirm the effects.