Baby Boomers are discovering that the benefits of cuddling go way beyond just improved sexual intimacy.
Even if we’re not married or in a romantic relationship, we can still find plenty of opportunities to cuddle more. Children and pets are perfect. They are generally willing partners and almost always respond with delightful gratitude.
For those in a romantic relationship, one of the most obvious benefits is that cuddling improves your sex life. Couples who spend time cuddling before and after intercourse are more satisfied with their sex lives and their relationships.
They also tend to stay together longer and have a stronger bond than couples who don’t cuddle.
Cuddling reduces stress and improves mental attitudes. The main hormone that is stimulated by cuddling, oxytocin, helps us feel more contented, peaceful and relaxed. It puts us in a good mood and enhances our happiness.
By reducing stress, cuddling helps relieve insomnia, so we get better sleep. And it strengthens our immune systems, so we experience healthy aging.
Research has even shown that oxytocin can possibly help regenerate muscle tissue in humans.
When we are under stress, our bodies pump out cortisol, our fight or flight hormone. Cortisol inhibits insulin production, increases our heart rate and can lead to all kinds of problems, including weight gain and diabetes onset. It also weakens our immune system.
Cuddling helps reduce our fears and anxiety, particularly our social anxiety. It increases our sense of security and ability to trust through strengthened human bonding.
It helps improve our self-esteem, our social skills and feelings of acceptance.
Cuddling has been found to reduce the levels of cortisol, helping lower blood pressure and slowing heart rate. It’s a great defense against heart disease.
Oxytocin has been known to reduce our food and alcohol cravings. So rather than eating through our upsets, we need to just cuddle through them. It’s a natural pain reliever, helping distract us from whatever is bothering us.
In addition to stimulating oxytocin, cuddling increases the release of serotonin, which is known to help with depression. Depressed people have lower levels of serotonin than non-depressed.
Recognizing the importance and wide-range benefits of cuddling while acknowledging the absence of cuddle opportunities for many, enterprising people have started cuddle shops and cuddle workshops. For a fee, one can go for platonic cuddling with total strangers.
Japan established cuddle rooms years ago where men, and occasionally women, pay for snuggle time ranging from a few minutes to overnight. Sex is not included, but often various levels of massaging are.
Most of us don’t really need to find public cuddle places. We can create our own cuddle time with the people and pets in our lives.
We just have to remember how valuable cuddling is and what a difference it makes for our health, well-being and happiness. Then seize - or create - our own opportunities.