Why do people cuddle

Why cuddling is so good - and why it is important

The physical closeness of a loved one relaxes and triggers a deep sense of wellbeing. Stroking or cuddling lets us forget stress and can give us solace in sadness. No wonder: Skin contact is one of the most original communication and contact paths between humans and animals - and it forms a particularly direct connection between us and the world. For example, the infant makes contact with the mother through the skin before his eyes are properly open. On the other hand, if babies lack skin contact, their psyche suffers.

Deceived by your own nerves

But what makes cuddling so pleasant? Part of this feeling of well-being is triggered by very special nerve fibers in our skin that only respond to slow, gentle touch. These nerves do not send their signals to the conscious part of our brain, but directly to our emotional center - and this triggers this immediate, positive effect of caressing.

Also amazing: These special nerves in our skin ensure that we perceive someone else's skin to be particularly soft, even if the object is not viewed at all. Our own senses therefore deceive us so that we find cuddling even more pleasant. "We found that particularly exciting about this illusion," says researcher Antje Gentsch from University College London. "It works best when the touch is intentional and corresponds to the optimal conditions for emotional touch."

Flooded with the "cuddle hormone"

But that's not all. Cuddling also releases a hormonal happiness maker, oxytocin. On the one hand, this messenger substance triggers a feeling of well-being and, on the other hand, takes away fears and mistrust. It can even go so far that, after a long round of cuddling, we overlook our neighbour's angry dog, for example. Because the cuddle hormone makes us more receptive to positive social signals, but at the same time inhibits our perception of potentially threatening stimuli - it gives us pink glasses, so to speak.

By the way, not only does cuddling with a person release the cuddle hormone in us - loving contact with our dog or another pet also causes this. In dogs, even looking intensely into each other's eyes is enough to raise the oxytocin levels in both humans and animals.

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