Why You Should Make Sure You Cuddle Your Partner and Child Tonight

Benefits of Cuddling
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It’s not a big secret that people in general love to feel a warm touch, no matter gender or age, but few know that there are health benefits to cuddling as well that affect us on a physical level. Whether a mother holds her child close or an old couple it on a loveseat, leaning against one another, that physical interaction coupled with the feeling of love does wonders for one’s daily well-being.

According to studies, a cuddle a day most definitely keeps the doctor away. The apple replacement is a peptide hormone called oxytocin and which chemically looks like C43H66N12O12S2. A funky looking thing, is it not?

Well, what this strange sounding compound does is contract uterine muscles and stimulate the secretion of milk. As you can imagine, it rears its head quite constantly during labour, delivery and postpartum recovery. Sounds rather feminine, no? Funny enough men have it too, though. It does like to affect the cardiovascular system.

Oxytocin is quite simply known as the love or cuddle hormone. As such, it activates the brain while you are in love, deepening the bond between the two. Warm contact increases levels of oxytocin in both sexes, studied through couples who sit together with hips touching while talking about happy memories, before a 20 second hug.

Note that in everything said to this moment, sex doesn’t enter the equation. That’s because sex is just an add-on, rather unnecessary when two people have fallen in love and can enjoy the simplest of touches and warm looks.

What are the physical and psychological health benefits to cuddling?

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• Lower blood pressure: Cuddling a stranger won’t work, nor if you are in a terrible relationship. However, among couples who had been together for longer than a year and still deeply in love, an increase in oxytocin lowered blood pressure in women. Unfortunately, the same result was not seen in men for unknown reasons during the first study but appeared to not discriminate in a second. In terms of cuddling newborns, mothers did not need the infants present to feel the positive effect on their blood pressure, caused by the lasting warmth a parent feels for a child.

• Lower stress: Once again, women reap the benefits as increases in oxytocin reduce stress hormone norepinephrine. It allows you to relax through cuddling, effectively producing a calm in you. After a long day of work, a good cuddle with a good partner might be just what the doctor ordered. A mother's voice is often enough to calm a stressed child, just as a child's voice can take the pressure off a mother's shoulders.

• Higher self-esteem: You might not realize it, but feeling cared for and safe in the arms of someone you love, whether a partner or parent, is more than enough to lift your chin and straighten your back. Why did you think you craved those hugs before a softball game or a life-altering exam. When we are touched, we know that we are valued and feel more attractive as well. When it’s a friend or partner hugging and you know that there are no strings attached, it only serves to heighten the emotion.

Is there a best time and place to cuddle?

• Of course! When you have a long time to relax, day or night, cuddle up with someone you love in a space that is private and comfortable. Even a 24 year old cuddling in bed with her parents and watching a happy comedy or laughing about the day’s events is enough to raise oxytocin levels. No cuddling if you are expecting to have sex afterwards, while you’re watching something exciting like sports or before brushing teeth. You don’t want to have a negative imprint when it comes to such a positive thing.

• Figure out what’s best for you. Some people don’t normally like to cuddle. Give them space until they are in the right mood. Then settle into their arms and enjoy the warmth around you, the secure feeling of being loved.

January 10 is National Hug Day, though we should keep the hugging to every day to reap the benefits of cuddling.

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