Couples can bond without having sex, this is the role of cuddling. Cuddling is a form of physical touch where couples hold themselves closely by wrapping their arms around each other for warmth, comfort or in affection. Cuddling has many benefits to a relationship, as it is a tool that helps to build intimacy. It is an excellent way to express physical intimacy and affection in a relationship.
Studies have shown that physical touch, even as simple as holding hands, is one of the most important love languages in a relationship. Apart from letting couples bond, it is a good way of communicating compassion and love. Even when couples are arguing or are on bad terms with each other, a simple touch like hugging ( a form of cuddling), may help them relate better to each other’s feelings.
So here are the best benefits of cuddling for couples, irrespective of your relationship stage, goals, and surroundings.
The first and most important benefit of cuddling is that it can actually impact our bodies on a hormonal level. When cuddling occurs, our bodies release serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin, hormones that make us feel good, happy, and bonded.
Oxytocin in particular, helps us bond with our partner, just as we see between mothers and their babies. So when the cuddles are romantic, the touch initiates a feeling of love, or generally romantic toward our partner.
Oxytocin, sometimes called the “love hormone” is triggered by all the love activities – kissing, sex, including cuddling.
Cuddling is akin to hugging and both have shown to improve heart beat. Studies have shown a link between the oxytocin released from hugging and lower blood pressure. The reduction of cortisol after cuddling helps lower our heart rate, making us breathe slower, lowering blood pressure, and generally makes us feel less anxious, particularly after a stressful day.
In a study published by Biological Psychology, 59 women close to their menopause had their blood pressure checked before and after being embraced by their partners. The result was staggering – the oxytocin levels of the women also increased, and their blood pressure went down.
This point is important because of the devastating effect of high blood pressure – heart attack, stroke, and other serious health problems. Hugging and cuddling helps to alleviate this by keeping the heart beat rate low, thereby making the body relaxed.
Cuddling is a way of initiating a spark in the bedroom. In as much as cuddling shouldn’t alway lead to sex, it is the one of the most effective ways for couples to initiate sex – especially one that forges intimacy. Dopamine which is released during cuddling helps the body develop a good sex drive and energy which improves sex life in a relationship.
Apart from making the body feel good, the hormones oxytocin, dopamine and serotonin, have a strong influence on sleep. Once released, they give your brain a sense of protection and affection, creating a relaxed mood that initiates sleep.
Serotonin, together with dopamine, plays a role in the quality of your sleep (how well and how long you sleep). Your brain also needs serotonin to make melatonin, a hormone that regulates your sleep-wake cycle.
As a good way of releasing feel good hormones especially oxytocin, cuddling helps to calm the mind and relax the body. This relaxation has a positive effect on the body as it reduces cortisol in our body, the hormone that is connected with stress.
Most of your body’s serotonin is in your GI tract where it helps control your bowel function and plays a role in protecting your gut. 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, indigestion, frequent eating, etc.
Serotonin, one of the hormones released while cuddling, is described as an antidepressant. Low levels of serotonin are associated with depression. Many medications used to treat anxiety, depression and other mood disorders often target ways to increase the level of serotonin in your brain.
Again, hormones released during cuddling help the body in many ways. Oxytocin supports the immune system by increasing the 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.
The same hormone oxytocin can help in reducing chronic pain. It is said that people who are low in oxytocin often suffer from chronic pain.