When you cuddle with your partner in the evening, while sleeping or resting in an intimate and connected position, you may not think of the potential health benefits. Hugs turn out to impact hormones, and hugging affects your mood, sleep, immune system, and pain levels. Hugs create a sense of connection and stimulate the release of joy hormones. It is also warm and promotes a sense of security. Although often linked to intimacy, hugs are not necessarily reserved for romantic partners, as this type of prolonged cuddling can also benefit the mental and emotional health of children.
Specifically, cuddling is a position loved ones assume when cuddling or sleeping. It was named “spooning” because it looks like two spoons stacked on top of each other: One person hugging another from behind, facing the same direction. The spoon position is often used by romantic partners, but it can also be used by children and parents. The degrees of intimacy vary depending on the relationship between the two “spoons”, but regardless, the position offers a sense of comfort and security. It can become more intimate when the arms and legs are intertwined during the cuddle.
Cuddling has both physical and psychological benefits, which primarily come from the production of joy hormones and the reduction of stress hormones. Here are some of the benefits of hugs:
1. Boosts Oxytocin
Oxytocin is known as the “love hormone,” and when released, it influences our mood, behavior, and physiology. An increase in oxytocin provides a feeling of satisfaction and reduces anxiety. It promotes the creation of social bonds and has calming effects. A study published in Biological Psychology examined 59 premenopausal women before and after warm touch and cuddles with their husband or partner. Researchers found that frequent cuddling between partners was associated with higher oxytocin levels and lower blood pressure.
2. Improve the connection between partners
Physical contact, such as hugs, can improve the connection between partners and provide a sense of togetherness and security. Researchers indicate that hugs are a key expression of intimacy, and a questionnaire in which 514 people participated revealed that when hugs are frequent and of long duration between partners, they are perceived very positively. Hugs can improve your intimate relationship with your partner because they make you feel cared for, wanted, and supported. It helps build trust in a relationship and promotes a sense of love and security.
3. Stress reduction
The rush of oxytocin you get when you cuddle your partner helps reduce cortisol, the stress hormone, which is produced as part of your fight or flight response to stress. Close physical contact also activates sensory neurons in the brain and promotes the production of dopamine, a hormone associated with motivation, satisfaction and pleasure.
4. Improve sleep
If you’ve ever wondered how hormones impact the body, consider the simple act of touching or hugging for an extended period of time. The increase in happy and calming hormones that occurs not only helps reduce stress, but also improves your sleep. Cuddling before falling asleep creates feelings of calm and soothing through the production of oxytocin, dopamine and serotonin. Research tells us that the neurotransmitter serotonin, for example, is very much involved in preparing, initiating and maintaining sleep.
The closeness that occurs during hugs can be extremely comforting, which is why it is not just for intimate partners, but can also put a child at ease. If you’ve ever had a baby who doesn’t fall asleep in his crib but falls asleep quickly when you’re near him in bed, you understand the sense of security and comfort that exists for babies, children and adults when cuddled.
6. Strengthen the immune system
It may seem odd that hugs can boost immune system health, but it’s true because of the role this kind of close contact plays on our hormones. Research indicates that oxytocin has adaptive anti-inflammatory and pro-immune functions. Research even suggests that increased hugs and perceived support are able to reduce signs of illness when participants are exposed to a virus that causes the common cold.
7. Relieve Pain
Research shows that prolonged high cortisol levels can lead to increased inflammation and pain. Close contact, such as a hug or hug, for an extended period of time can lower cortisol levels in the body, which relaxes the body, lowers blood pressure, and raises the body’s pain threshold. This means that hugs can actually relieve pain, because the body is not in a state of stress, but rather in a state of relaxation.
How to do ?
The tradition is that the taller person lies behind the shorter one, in the same direction, and hugs them from behind. The person in the back may wrap their arms around the person in the front, and sometimes the couple’s legs are intertwined.
How much hugging is enough to reap these potential health benefits?
Cuddling for 10 minutes or more helps to produce happiness hormones and reduce stress hormones.
Risks and side effects
As you have read, hugs are good for your mental, emotional and physical health. It is a comforting position that can also enhance intimacy between romantic partners.
Does it have to be sexual? Absolutely not. Depending on the relationship, this may be another way to cuddle and show love. Although this position is warm and comforting, it is not necessarily the best position for sleeping through the night. It can cause stiffness in the arms or legs. It is therefore sufficient to abandon the position when it is no longer comfortable.
The spoon position is a position loved ones assume when cuddling or sleeping. The spoon position was named so because it looks like two spoons stacked on top of each other. The benefits of the spooning position are numerous, especially due to its effects on hormone production. This type of hug promotes the production of happiness hormones and reduces stress hormones, which makes you feel more relaxed, connected and at ease.