Do you prefer to be the big spoon or little spoon when sleeping with your partner? Either way, it turns out that cuddling in this way could be good for your health in several different ways.
There’s nothing quite like getting into bed and having a big cuddle at the end of a long day. Humans respond positively to touch and hugging has been proven to release higher levels of the feel-good hormone oxytocin, which promotes a greater sense of happiness and wellbeing.
Spooning, which is a cuddling position where two people lay close to one another on their sides, while facing the same direction, can also release hormones like oxytocin, dopamine and serotonin.
According to sleep experts from Winstons Beds, these chemicals don’t just make us feel happier, they can also help us relax and have better quality sleep, improve our immune system and reduce inflammation at the same time.
Rebecca Swain, from Winston Beds, said: “Whether you are the big spoon or the little spoon, couples should embrace the position to strengthen their bond and reap the health benefits.
“As well as improving intimacy in a relationship, the chemicals released during spooning can help the nervous system relax and reduce blood pressure.”
There are six health benefits that come with spooning, according to Swain, including:
Boosting immune system
Oxytocin plays an important role in lowering cortisol levels. Cortisol is a stress hormone and can lead to a weakened immune system, which means your risk of getting sick becomes higher.
But oxytocin can help relieve the effects of cortisol, improving immune function and boosting your body’s ability to fight off viruses and infections.
A cuddle like spooning can help calm the nervous system and reduce blood pressure. This has the added effect of regulating cortisol levels and make you feel more calm. Healthy blood pressure also means lower risk of heart disease, which makes spooning good for your heart in more ways than one.
Swain said that research has found that oxytocin can help with conditions like sleep apnea. It is thought that the hormone can help reduce obstructive sleep apnea symptoms like frequent waking at night.
Oxytocin also has an anti-inflammatory effect. The more oxytocin you produce, the less pain you feel.
Spooning can also release endorphins, which are released by the hypothalamus and pituitary gland. These hormones act as a natural painkiller and also promote a general feeling of wellbeing.
Lower levels of cortisol mean less stress, and the less stressed we are, the better our mental health is. Cuddling can improve oxytocin levels, as well as dopamine and serotonin, all of which help us achieve a calmer state of mind.
Oxytocin can help balance food cravings caused by hormone imbalances, Swain said. Therefore, spooning could help us to curb cravings and manage them better.
Spooning is far from the only way to increase the production of oxytocin in the body. The “love hormone” also gets released when we hold hands, give someone a massage, and have sex.
Childbirth and breastfeeding also results in the release of oxytocin, and plays an important role in the bond between mother and child.
Dr Paula S Barry, physician at Penn Family and Internal medicine Longwood, said in an article: “It is important to remember that oxytocin is part of a complex system of neurohormones, but when it’s released by physical touch it can have many benefits, including laying the foundation for cognitive, social and emotional wellbeing, and strengthening emotional bonds and trust.”
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