10 Scientific Benefits Of Cuddling You May Not Have Known About

Yeah, sex is cool, but have you ever just cuddled? Whether it’s your boyfriend, a casual date, or the family dog, cuddling might just be the perfect way to unwind, get cozy, and boost your wellbeing. Here are some of the top benefits of cuddling backed by science.

  1. Cuddling relieves stress. This is at the top of the list when it comes to the benefits of cuddling. Having trouble sleeping? Feeling extra stressed? Just need to chill? Cuddling might be the answer! Cuddling someone else releases oxytocin, a hormone that can calm your mind and relax your body. If you’ve ever felt safe and comforted after a good cuddle session, that’s why. Oxytocin is even available as a prescription designed to help people struggling with anxiety and depression. But if you want to skip the pharmacy, cuddle someone you love instead.
  2. It improves your sex life. Cuddling and sex do not have to go together, but they definitely can sometimes. And if you’re looking to ignite a spark in the bedroom or want to improve physical intimacy with your partner, cuddling is a great way to start. Skip the lazy couch potato cuddle, and try cuddling face-to-face or even cuddling without any clothes on. If sexy time wasn’t in the schedule, it probably will be now.
  3. Cuddling can lower blood pressure. If you want to protect your heart (and not just from players), try cuddling. It can improve heart health, starting with lowering your blood pressure: studies show a link between the oxytocin released from hugging and lower blood pressure. And that’s important, since high blood pressure can lead to a heart attack, stroke, and other serious health problems. Hugging and cuddling can also slow heart rate, proving its relaxing benefits to the body.
  4. It could help with relationship anxiety. This is one of the biggest benefits of cuddling. As a rule of thumb, serious relationship issues require more than cuddling to fix them. But if you struggle with trust issues, an anxious attachment, or other relationship worries, even in an otherwise healthy relationship, cuddling could help ease your jitters and get you feeling closer to your partner. If you’ve found that cuddling comforts your uneasiness, be sure to ask your partner to do it more often. Even a long hug when you greet each other or some good ol’ spooning in bed might be enough to soften your anxiety and improve your relationship.
  5. It may ease pain. Can you cuddle cramps away? Maybe! Researchers have found that the oxytocin released from cuddling can relieve pain, decrease sensitivity, and block pain receptors in the body. And while it might not be enough to cure your pain for good, it’s scientifically proven to make mild-to-moderate pain less severe. Next time you have a headache or stub your toe, use it as an excuse to initiate a cuddle session.
  6. Hugging and cuddling can stop relationship fights. Oxytocin is often nicknamed “the love hormone” because it increases the bond and connection between people. It brings people closer, not only physically, but emotionally too. So if you keep snapping at your partner for silly reasons, cuddling more often could be the key to preventing unnecessary fights before they even start. It’s an easy way to build a healthy relationship, without needing to exchange a single word.
  7. It can boost immunity and prevent illness. Thanks again to oxytocin, cuddling can support your immune system and keep you from getting sick. This time, it’s because oxytocin helps to increase levels of serotonin in the body, which is known to enhance immunity. Serotonin also lowers inflammation in the body, keeping you healthy and making it easier to get back on your feet even if you do get sick.
  8. Cuddling could improve digestion. Serotonin released during cuddling helps aid proper digestion and tells your brain when you’re full. And not having enough of it could cause issues in the digestive system, leading to conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome. Even if you don’t necessarily want to think about your intestines while cuddling, just know that you’re helping your digestive tract when you do.
  9. You can cuddle almost anyone (who consents, of course). You don’t need to be in a relationship to feel the comfort of cuddling. You can cuddle after a hookup, chill on the sofa with your BFF, or even give a family member a big bear hug. Even though cuddling is intimate, it’s much more accessible than other forms of physical intimacy like kissing or sex. As long as you feel comfortable and the other person is cool with it, you can cuddle with pretty much anyone.
  10. It’s great for babies too. If you love a good cuddle, you’ve probably been like that literally since birth. Babies get a major boost from skin-to-skin contact with their parents and other caregivers. However, these cuddling benefits extend to all ages. Just like with adults, cuddling helps bond babies to their family, calms their breathing, and helps promote healthy development both inside and out. Tap into your inner toddler and go cuddle someone you love ASAP.
Relationship educator, writer, host of the Relationship Reminders podcast, and mental health advocate hailing from the US and currently based in Tokyo