If you are pesky about cuddling in bed, you are losing out on better health

Do you feel a sense of calm when you lay your head on a loved one’s chest while sitting on a couch, perhaps watching a movie? Or do you feel relaxed after a snuggling session with your pet dog? Well, it is because we humans love to cuddle. Additionally, several studies have proven the ample health benefits of cuddling.

It might be just a side-hug or an arm around your shoulder, but these little moments of touch go a long way in boosting your health.

Of course, cuddling is not for everyone. Some people find it uncomfortable when others touch them. However, in a large-scale survey conducted in 2020, almost 90 per cent of 40,000 participants said they liked physical affection from their partners. And, 79 per cent said that they liked it when a friend touched them.

Cuddling, a non-sexual form of affectionate physical contact (not necessarily romantic), is an expression of care, comfort, and closeness between individuals.

Dr Sukriti Rex, lead psychologist and researcher at health-tech startup Evolve, tells India Today that cuddling has many physical, emotional, and mental health benefits.

Reduced stress

Next time you are feeling stressed out, try cuddling with a person you are close to or a pet to help you relax and feel more at ease. It is good for your mental well-being.

“Be it with a romantic partner or otherwise, cuddling with loved ones or even a pet can help release oxytocin in your body,” says Dr Rex.

She explains that oxytocin is the ‘cuddle or love hormone’ that helps us feel loved and happy and reduces stress in the moment.

Improves heart health

Cuddling releases oxytocin and decreases cortisol levels. As a result, it positively affects your cardiovascular health. Dr Rex explains: it stabilises your heart rate and even lowers blood pressure.

Blood pressure is often linked to stress, and things that reduce stress help bring BP levels down.

Better sleep

Have you ever felt that you sleep better next to your partner? Cuddling has a role to play here.

“Cuddling helps improve your sleep as the feeling of calmness and safety helps your mind switch off faster. It has a similar effect to a weighted blanket that a lot of individuals with anxiety use to fall asleep,” says Dr Rex.

Cuddling helps you sleep better. (Photo: Pexels)

Hug your partner before sleeping; it will have a good effect because of the oxytocin triggers.

Improves immunity

Regular hugs can actually help prevent colds as well.

A study also found that people who received hugs regularly were less likely to catch a cold virus when exposed compared to those who didn’t get much physical affection.

Reduces physical pain

When you are hurt or are experiencing physical pain, have your friends or family around. Not only will they take care of you, but their touch will help in reducing the pain.

A study published in 2018 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that reaching for a loved one’s hand for comfort can help reduce pain.

Better bonding

“Another added benefit is increased intimacy with the other person due to the intimate nature of the act of cuddling,” Dr Rex.

Whether it is your partner, friend, or family members, cuddling facilitates bonding between individuals. This strengthens relationships and fosters a sense of connection.

Who to cuddle?

Look beyond your partner for cuddling sessions. Your parents, close friends, grandparents should also be on your cuddle list. Don’t forget the pets, too!

Cuddle sessions with pets are the best. (Photo: Pexels)

By the way, there are professional cuddling therapists too.

“Cuddling is proven to increase productivity and general happiness levels, so much so that there are certified cuddle therapists – who are certified, trained, and licensed to cuddle with individuals, as a form of therapy. They can also help with feelings of loneliness and boost your self-esteem,” Dr Sukriti Rex shares.

The idea of professional cuddlers has been famous in the West but has been catching up here in India as well.

Cuddling beyond hugs

Not just hugs, there are many acts of cuddling you can indulge in with those you have a non-romantic relationship with.

It includes side hugs, holding hands, or simply sitting close to the person. Placing an arm around someone’s shoulder while standing beside them is also a form of cuddling. So is resting your head on their shoulder or lap. It offers a sense of closeness and security, apart from imparting the above-mentioned benefits.

Apart from being a gesture of support and reassurance, putting hands on someone’s back accounts as cuddling too.

Count in the foot and back rubs as well.

The power of touch is more powerful than we often realise. On hard days, a reassuring pat on the back can mean the world. If you do not feel uncomfortable if someone touches you, make sure you are not touch-starved. Cuddle your way to better health.

Published By:

Medha Chawla

Published On:

Mar 28, 2024

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