The Cuddle Bug

Dearest Readers,

Aphrodykie here! As always, I’m available to answer your carnal queries at aphrodykie@gmail.com.

Today, I’m writing to urge you to cuddle. Give a hug, hold hands or exchange back massages. Go spoon a friend. Kiss your partner. Unsurprisingly, there’s a good chance it will perk up your mood. Snuggling is an immensely important component of many relationships and offers an array of unexpected health benefits.

Definitions of cuddling vary, but all hinge on prolonged proximity to another person. Science reveals that cuddling’s effects are driven by the release of a hormone cocktail engineered by evolution to make us feel good. Upon human contact, the body releases dopamine and serotonin, which can make you instantly feel happier. Prolonged contact can trigger the release of oxytocin. Although dopamine and serotonin provide the initial ‘feel-good sensation,’ oxytocin is the real driver of cuddling’s health benefits.

Some of the benefits of cuddling (and the resulting hormone release) are what one might expect. Serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin make us happier immediately. Cuddling is a great way to spend more time with a partner and deepen the relationship. More interestingly, oxytocin has been empirically shown to build trust between partners. This implies that cuddling may not only be beneficial to your physical relationship with a partner but also to your emotional bond. Furthermore, at the end of a long day, oxytocin released from cuddling signals your adrenal glands to stop producing the hormone cortisol, which reduces stress and anxiety.

An unexpected benefit of cuddling is its effect on aspects of your health outside of the interpersonal. Oxytocin reduces high blood pressure, strengthens your immune system and is suggested by research to improve sleep. Together, these three effects of oxytocin reduce the risk of heart disease, hopefully allowing you to snuggle well into your golden years.

I encourage you to take 10 or 15 minutes out of your day today and get cozy with a friend or your partner. Especially with the long winter months here in Massachusetts, some extra feel-good hormones may be very much in order.

Cozy cuddles,

Aphrodykie