Health Benefits of Cuddling

Two men cuddling on a bed with the text, "Benefits of Cuddling"

By: Ann Avery, MD, Infectious Disease Physician at MetroHealth Medical Center

Human touch was probably something most of us took for granted in “The Beforetimes.” COVID-19 delivered a devastating blow to many of us who enjoyed being touched or held by a friend, partner, or loved one. It’s totally understandable that it took a global pandemic and required physical distancing for us to even come up with the words for WHY touch is so important. With Hot Vax Summer 🔥💉☀️ in full swing, touch is back, and it feels so good.

In terms of touch, let’s talk cuddling. 😉 It’s fun, right? It can be comforting and bring a sense of ease. The world is your oyster, there are endless ways to cuddle. Whether you’re the big or little spoon, you also get a number of health benefits. Win, win, amirite?! Let’s run them down:

A man and woman cuddling asleep on a bed

Better sleep 😴

If you need a better night’s rest, try a good cuddle session before bed. The physical touch helps the brain release oxytocin and reduces the amount of stress-related cortisol produced. This can lead to fewer nightmares and help you get your 💤’s.

Try adding cuddling to your pre-bedtime routine.

A man and woman cuddling on the couch and smiling. Text says "Less Stress"

Less stress 😰

We are stressed. You can’t deny it. Times are stressful. Cuddles and hugs can combat that stress though. True, not all stress is the same; however, the more hugs, the greater the effect. 🤗

Oxytocin isn’t the only hormone responsible for offering these stress-reducing benefits connected to cuddling. Serotonin, a.k.a. The Happy Hormone, promotes feelings of happiness and pleasure. Cuddling helps when you’re feeling down in the dumps.

That snuggle can be lifesaving.

A woman with her head on a man's lap while lying on the couch. text says, "improved digestion"

Improved Digestion 🤢

Cuddling starts the “rest and digest” reflex. This tells your body that it’s safe to relax and divert energy to things like digestion. Stress keeps you in a constant fight-or-flight mode, so as cuddling reduces stress, it reroutes energy to other less-essential functions.

The more often we cuddle, the more serotonin we produce, and the more serotonin we produce, the better our ability to digest and process food in our bodies.


Two women smiling, cuddled under a bed sheet. Text says "reduced pain"

Reduced pain ️‍🩹

Reaching for a loved one’s hand when you’re in physical pain is a natural reaction. As it turns out, this small gesture can significantly reduce how much pain you feel, according to a study published in 2018 in PNAS. It worked best when both people felt close.

A woman lying on top of a man cuddling with the text, "Strengthen Connection"

Strengthen connection 👨🏽

It may seem like we’re not lacking connection in our ultra-connected tech world. But physical touch provides a unique and essential type of bond with others.

This is especially true for couples. If you’re feeling distant from your partner, adding in some daily snuggles will promote not just a better relationship, but also physical and mental health.


We could keep going but the takeaway is KEEP CUDDLING. You can’t get enough, right? 🙌🏿  Many of us have gone through the last year and a half without consistent human touch. Get it now. With all these benefits, we can’t forget about the pleasure it brings. We encourage you to do what feels good for you.