Look, it’s science. There’s a reason getting close with someone you care about makes you feel good. Whether it’s a significant other or another loved one, quality cuddle time has serious benefits. When you snuggle up with someone you like your body releases the hormones endorphins, oxytocin, and serotonin often referred to as “love hormones,” and these hormones have been linked to encouraging feelings of calmness, reducing stress, and lowering blood pressure. In fact, when oxytocin is released, cortisol (the stress hormone) is reduced.
“Human touch has a powerful effect on our lives. Throughout life, humans use touch to interact with others, display affection, seek support, and develop relationships,” says Amanjot K. Deol, MD, chief of behavioral health at Kaiser Permanente Central Valley. In fact, she adds, “touch stimulates tactile nerve endings in the skin.”
Some of the main benefits of cuddling include an overall better mood and less stress, but cuddling has been linked to other health benefits, too. Who would have thought that snuggling is physically good for your heart? Before you write it off as a stretch, think about the science behind the fact. If oxytocin is released during cuddling, and oxytocin lowers blood pressure, then your heart benefits. And while scientists have linked these benefits to both genders, there seems to be more evidence for women. After an injury or during an illness, cuddling can also eliminate or reduce pain by blocking pain signals to the brain. The correlation between cuddling and pain relief (including depression) is so strong that some doctors believe in producing a synthetic form to medicate people after an injury.
Physical and mental benefits aside, there are a lot of emotional benefits to snuggling close, too. Science shows that couples who hug, cuddle, and kiss often have higher levels of oxytocin in their blood and as a result are healthier and happier overall. Not to mention, time spent close together, including skin on skin contact, can help couples develop feelings of love toward one another.
“Total health is about mind, body and spirit. And human connection is a vital contribution to your total health,” Dr. Deol says.
Cuddling, however, is not only beneficial with your significant other. Science shows cuddling stimulates bonding between child and parent, and those who pet animals often report reduced feelings of stress, loneliness, depression, and illness, as well.
Benefits of Cuddling
Lower stress levels
Lower blood pressure
Stronger immune system
Increased feelings of calmness, trust, and security