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Health and Fitness News

Cuddle Up for Health

Seven reasons to snuggle with your loved ones more often.

Do you ever go through days without being touched or touching someone else? People who live alone or who live in unaffectionate families may not get much physical touch. For other people, kisses, hugs, snuggles, holding hands, and back rubs are a big part of their everyday life.

It’s easy to underestimate the value of physical touch. But it’s vital for your physical, emotional, and mental health, no matter how old or strong you are. It’s important at every age. So don’t forget to hug your teenagers. Whether they admit it or not, they need loving physical touch too.

Why does touch matter? Here are just a few reasons.

1. Cuddling Shows Love

In his book, The Five Love Languages, Gary Chapman names physical touch as one of the five main ways people give and receive love. If your main love language is physical touch, you’re more likely to express love to others through touch. And you may feel unloved if you don’t receive it. In a loving and caring relationship, physically touching someone in a warm, gentle way is one way to foster intimacy and express love.

2. Cuddling Fosters Connection

Studies promote touch. Research shows that your brain produces more oxytocin when you hug, kiss, and cuddle. Often called the “love hormone,” oxytocin helps you bond, form a sense of connection, and feel warm and fuzzy. Adults are often the only ones who need a boost of oxytocin. Newborn babies bond with their mothers through skin-to-skin contact. This bonding process is important for many aspects of a baby’s healthy development.

3. Cuddling Reduces Stress

Stressed and anxious? Find someone to hug. It’ll do your stress levels good. The oxytocin brought on by hugs do more than increase connection. It also brings a sense of calm and relaxation and lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol. So when you’re feeling stressed, fill up on oxytocin. Soon, you’ll put stress behind you.

4. Cuddling Helps Your Heart

In an indirect way, cuddling improves your heart health. It does this by lowering your blood pressure and reducing stress, two leading risk factors for heart disease. So never feel guilty spending an evening snuggling on the couch watching a movie. You’re not being lazy. You’re relaxing and taking care of your relationships and your heart.

5. Cuddling Improves Health

Frequent, loving physical touch is good for your immune system. It boosts the hormones that fight infection and cuts down on cortisol circulating in your body. As a result, cuddling can help prevent sickness and help you recover faster when you do get sick. Health benefits of cuddling are also seen in infants. It’s so powerful that researchers claim there’s no such thing as holding a baby too much. When an infant is cuddled, its breathing slows, its feelings of pain decrease, and its oxygen levels increase. Babies who are held and cuddled frequently have drastically lower risks of illness, infection, and death.

6. Cuddling Relieves Pain

Another important benefit of cuddling is its effect on pain. Oxytocin can relieve pain by increasing the body’s ability to block pain signals to your brain. People who deal with chronic pain may benefit from frequent massages to boost oxytocin.

7. Cuddling Improves Sleep

It makes sense that cuddling helps you sleep better at night. If you feel loved, connected, less stressed, relaxed, healthy, and in less pain, you’re at ease. That helps you sleep better. Not interested in being touched while you sleep? That’s fine. Spend a few minutes cuddling before falling asleep. It’ll still help you sleep better.