The Science of Cuddling

Human touch is a powerful mechanism for human connection. It can be romantic between partners, loving between a parent and a child, or even respectful in business through a handshake. While there are many instances where personal space is required, human touch can make a real impact on people. This is because touch releases certain hormones in our body that help us feel good. Cuddling is a very powerful act that has major benefits. These benefits are not only anecdotal but are backed by science. Below you will find some of the proven benefits of cuddling.

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Benefits of Cuddling

Infection Fighter

As wild as this sounds, cuddling up to someone can help fight infection. Researchers found in a study of over 400 people that hugging could help fight the common cold. The study found that research subjects who have strong support systems and received hugs had symptoms that were less severe.

Stress Reducer and Mood Lifter

The science behind the benefits of cuddling often involves a number of chemicals in your brain that react to stress and cuddling. When humans experience stress, cortisol levels increase. This is problematic for a host of reasons, including an increase in blood pressure, weakening your immune system, and difficulty with weight loss to name just a few.

If you cuddle or hug someone your body releases a helpful hormone known as oxytocin. This hormone can slow down cortisol and help keep you stress-free. Oxytocin and other hormones like dopamine and serotonin can help us feel good after human touch. Once those chemicals are released in your body, it has the effect of lifting your mood and making you feel happier.

Blood Pressure and Heart Rate Reducer

Another scientifically backed fact is that cuddling and touching can lower your heart rate and blood pressure. Researchers conducted a study where subjects held hands for ten minutes or hugged for twenty seconds. In both situations, the activities resulted in lowering the heart rate and blood pressure of the subjects. While this should not be a replacement for any prescribed medications if you have a medical condition, this is great support for your heart and body.

Anxiety and Fear Reducer

The benefits of cuddling are helpful for those who experience anxiety or fear. Research has shown that this is effective in reducing external fears like death or even regular anxiety. The feeling of safety and comfort is a great break from the stress of the world.

Facilitates Bonding

You will always hear your doctor suggest skin to skin contact when you have a child. Skin to skin contact is very important for parents and children to experience, especially when they are young. It facilitates bonding and soothes babies when they are in distress. Touch is essential for development. Research has shown that without touch from adult caretakers in infancy, children can be severely affected throughout their life. It helps form attachment and strong bonds. Without it, there can be intense feelings of abandonment.


While it has not yet been proven in humans, research has shown that rats experienced major improvements in damaged muscle tissue when injected with oxytocin. Researchers are hypothesizing that the same could be true in humans. While the science is not yet there in terms of any conclusive information, there is hope as the research progresses!

Cuddling is a beneficial form of touch that can truly improve and positively impact your life. If you feel comfortable, try to cuddle more and see how it impacts your life. It’s supported by science and adorable.

Sleep Specialist in New York City

If you are struggling with sleep, contact Sleep MD for support and solutions to getting a good night’s rest. Dr. Mayank Shukla is a sleep doctor in New York with over fifteen years of experience working with patients who have struggled with sleep. Dr. Shukla is focused on getting his patients back to their full potential and getting a good night’s rest. If you are experiencing issues with sleep, schedule an appointment with Dr. Shukla and our team!

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