Last Updated on September 30, 2023 by Louise Carter
Sharing a bed and cuddling are usually reserved for romantic partners, so it makes sense that they may coincide. Many people find that cuddling at bedtime improves sleep quality.
Cuddling in bed improves sleep as physical contact releases the hormone oxytocin. This is released from the brain’s pituitary gland and floods the body with a sense of physical and emotional well-being.
Cuddling a partner at bedtime means you’ll benefit from reduced stress levels, lower blood pressure, blocked pain receptors from chronic illness or injuries, and a sense of safety and security.
Not everyone enjoys cuddling at bedtime, and that’s okay because intimate contact releases oxytocin at any time of the day. You can interact before sleep and still enjoy all the benefits.
Is Cuddling Good for Sleep?
If you wonder, “Why do I get sleepy when cuddling?” the answer is oxycontin. It’s sometimes called “the love hormone,” as it floods the body with feelings of comfort, relaxation, and wellness.
Any physical contact with another human, such as a massage, can release oxytocin.
It’s most prominent in physical interaction between couples in an established romantic relationship, hence why cuddling can feel comforting and relaxing.
Oxytocin plays a significant role in the benefits of cuddling while sleeping, which may contribute to a better and more peaceful night and answer why cuddling helps you sleep better.
Feelings of Safety And Security
We’re never more vulnerable than when we sleep, so knowing that somebody else is in the vicinity through touch will promote feelings of comfort and safety.
The Journal of Sleep Research found this is important for women with lower attachment security. The act of physical contact at bedtime alleviates many of these concerns overnight.
Even if you have a secure attachment to a partner, these feelings of safety may be welcome. Sleeping in unfamiliar locations, shared homes, or loud and dangerous neighborhoods can be fretful.
Feeling secure while asleep can also improve the quality of REM sleep. Throughout the evening, we cycle through various sleep stages, of which REM is the longest and lightest.
Feeling safe during REM sleep means you’re less likely to experience bad dreams or be roused from sleep due to feelings of subconscious anxiety.
Don’t overlook the importance of feelings of social support that cuddling in bed can provide.
According to Psychological Science, a sense of security overnight bolsters the immune system and improves protection against upper respiratory infections.
The release of oxytocin that occurs with cuddling blocks cortisol, the so-called “stress hormone,” from flooding the body. This can lead to a peaceful night of sleep during testing times.
Climbing into bed at the end of the night, when you’re otherwise alone with your thoughts, can lead to spikes in stress and anxiety.
Tempering this with cuddling at bedtime means you’re likelier to fall asleep and deal with your problems, feeling refreshed in the morning.
Lower Blood Pressure
Psychosomatic Medicine explains that, along with reducing stress and depression symptoms, oxycontin can lower blood pressure. Cuddling in bed slows the heart rate and eases you to sleep.
Hypertension and insomnia often go hand in hand, creating a vicious circle.
If your blood pressure is high (hypertension), you’ll likely struggle to relax enough to fall asleep, while a lack of sleep leads to higher blood pressure.
The comforting feeling of a partner’s presence will slow down the heart and lull you into a welcome and gentle sleep, enhancing the likelihood of a steady heart rate the following day.
Blocks Pain Signals
Another welcome influence of oxytocin is blocking pain receptors in the body.
Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice explains that releasing this hormone through touch can alleviate symptoms associated with chronic pain.
Suppose you have a long-term concern like fibromyalgia, plantar fasciitis, arthritis, or any other issue that causes pain and inflammation. If so, it will disturb your sleep.
Can Cuddling Disturb Sleep?
While there are benefits to cuddling up with a partner at bedtime, it doesn’t work for everyone. Don’t be concerned if you prefer to sleep alone if you’re happy and contented in other areas of your life.
Despite benefitting from cuddling, co-sleeping has drawbacks, including the following:
Cuddling and hugging in a bed are often a precursor to physical intimacy. This is a healthy expression of love within a relationship, but it can delay the onset of sleep for one or both partners.
Suppose one person finds themself aroused by the proximity to a partner, but the other is asleep. In that case, it’ll be hard for this individual to calm down enough to sleep.
If both partners are equally responsive, this can be beneficial. Frontiers in Public Health stated that physical intimacy can improve sleep quality, assuming it doesn’t happen too late at night.
Many of us feel cozier when warm in bed and sharing body heat. According to Current Opinion in Physiology, staying cool reduces energy expenditure and improves sleep quality.
If two partners have different temperature preferences in bed, at least one must compromise. If you prefer a cooler climate in bed, cuddling up will likely leave you overheated.
You could get a smart mattress, where two sides of the bed will run at different temperatures.
If you’re sleeping close to a partner, it’ll be increasingly difficult to ignore noise. Snoring, talking in sleep, or bruxism will sound much louder.
Physical movement will also be more keenly felt when sleeping close together. If one partner kicks or flails their legs, it’ll likely keep the other awake or rouse them from sleep.
Consider what may happen if one of you needs to get up during the night. For example, if one partner needs the bathroom at night, you must disentangle.
It’s good that cuddling with a partner can help you sleep, but it can be problematic if you rely on somebody else to fall asleep. Will this leave you unable to fall asleep in bed alone?
There are many reasons why this could happen. Travel, the end of a relationship, or even one partner not being ready for bed can throw your sleep schedule off track.
Oversleeping and Morning Grogginess
If you remain in the same position, you can enjoy the benefits of cuddling overnight. You’ll also exchange a release of oxytocin, which could make waking up more difficult.
If you have a lazy Sunday ahead of you without needing to wake up early, it’s not a problem. Just avoid oversleeping on a day when you need to rise early, as cuddling in bed can leave you sleepy.
What Is The Best Cuddling Position for Sleep?
As with choosing a solo sleep position, it comes down to personal preference and comfort.
Some couples may find ‘spooning’ the optimum position for cuddling at bedtime, while others prefer to sleep back-to-back or face-to-face, entangling limbs.
According to the International Journal of Dream Research, 90% of happy, co-sleeping couples choose to spoon as their initial cuddling position while drifting into sleep.
This was most common in couples that had not shared a bed for a long time.
Trial and error will reveal the best sleep position while retaining physical intimacy with a partner. Try different positions and postures, settling on an arrangement that helps both of you rest well.