The Health Benefits of Cuddling
Whilst hugs are obviously great for feeling closer to a loved one, did you know that cuddling actually has a range of surprising positive effects that span both physical and mental health? So a little Valentine’s romance could actually help more than just your relationship.
Mattress Online scoured the web for the most common cuddling positions for couples and compiled a top 10 list for our survey respondents to choose from. We found that Brits love getting cosy on the sofa, with the ‘seated snuggle’ being voted as the UK’s favourite cuddle. While men agree with the overall winner, women prefer ‘the chest rest’ – an intimate bed-based hug. Less intimate hugs like ‘The Pretzel’ and ‘Back-to-Back’ ranked lower, showing that UK couples prefer closer contact both on the sofa and in bed.
But aside from feeling good and bringing you closer together with a partner, having a cuddle is also good for you in a number of ways you’ll have never even considered.
The mental and physical health benefits of hugs include:
1. Increased intimacy and sexual satisfaction – While it’s not exactly ground-breaking to claim that a cuddle can lead to physical intimacy, it’s important to remember to save some hugs for afterwards. A study has found that couples who cuddled after sex claimed to have increased sexual satisfaction, as well as overall relationship satisfaction.
2. Helping you communicate emotions – Research explains that emotions such as love, gratitude and sympathy between loved ones can all be expressed by a simple hug. So, essentially, opposite ends of the emotional spectrum, happiness and sadness can also be communicated through touch.
3. Lowering anxiety and stress – With cases of anxiety on the rise, it’s reassuring to know that something as simple as a hug could mitigate the symptoms. Carnegie Mellon University showed that cuddling is an effective way to reduce the harmful effects of stress, reaffirming a connection with someone close to you and providing benefits to your mental wellbeing.
4. Boosting your immune system – It has also been found that people who cuddled more often were less prone to illness than those who shun hugs. The protective effect of hugs may be attributable to the physical contact itself or to hugging being a behavioural indicator of support and intimacy. Either way, those who receive more hugs are somewhat more protected from infection.
5. Providing pain relief – Research found that an empathetic touch from a loved one such as a partner or family member can reduce a person’s pain response. This ranges from a comforting handhold, right up to all the important hug which, according to the report, all have an ‘analgesic effect’ i.e. pain relief usually associated with medicine.
6. Lowering blood pressure and improving memory – If you know the person you’re hugging well, the positive effects of hugging are boosted. The effects include lowering blood pressure and improving memory as well as increasing level of oxytocin, a hormone associated with increased social bonding.
Although it can sometimes seem hard to find time to properly relax and be intimate with those close to us. A simple hug can reinforce the connection between people, and, provide a whole host of positive outcomes. So did you need another reason to snuggle up this Valentine’s day?