In life and love, we have lots of questions as to how we can have a stronger relationship and at the same time be healthy physically while enjoying the intimacy we’re having with our partners. There are numerous and almost unnoticed ways we can enjoy both, and one is cuddling. When it comes to the best cuddling positions, spooning is often the go-to for a lot of people. Spooning is just a comforting position to be in. Additionally, it also provides benefits – for both your health and your relationship. Here’s everything you need to know about spooning, from variations to benefits and more.
What is spooning?
A common cuddling position, spooning, is when two people both lay on their sides, with each facing the same direction. The bigger person (big spoon) then cuddles the smaller person (small spoon) from behind by wrapping their arms around the small spoon in a prolonged hug, until they both fall asleep. Some people might opt to intertwine their legs with their partner’s, but some others prefer to just keep them next to each other.
What are the health benefits?
1. It releases feel-good hormones
There are several psychological benefits to spooning, all of which can be linked back to the fact that spooning triggers the release of the brain chemicals oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin.
Oxytocin, also known as the love hormone, has been linked to alleviating both pain and stress, whereas dopamine leaves us feeling happier as well as more focused and motivated. Serotonin, on the other hand, helps to regulate feelings of our mood, as well as feelings of anxiety, and low levels have been linked to a higher risk of depression (1).
2. It’ll help you sleep
If you’re struggling with getting enough sleep, then might we suggest making spooning a part of your nighttime routine?
As we know, spooning triggers the release of brain chemicals like oxytocin, and according to one animal study published in the American Journal of Physiology, oxytocin showed benefits in animal models of obstructive sleep apnea.
Additionally, spooning can also help your mind and body relax, which is exactly what one needs, especially if they don’t want to be tossing and turning all night.
3. It increases intimacy
If you’re struggling with intimacy in your relationship, spooning is a great way to strengthen your physical and emotional bond.
This is because, outside of the sexual aspect, spooning makes one feel loved, protected, and cared for, which is all someone wants when they’re in a healthy relationship.
4. It’ll reduce your stress levels
As mentioned, spooning releases oxytocin, and this can help combat elevated levels of cortisol, also known as the stress hormone.
Considering the past two years that we’ve each experienced, it’s not surprising to know that we are in a mental health crisis. As such, more and more people are attempting to find ways to deal with their heightened stress levels. However, one way to combat stress is by getting enough oxytocin flowing and one sure way to do this is by spooning.
5. It boosts your immune system
Courtesy of the feel-good hormone oxytocin.
Oxytocin boosts your T-regulatory cells, whose function is to prevent autoimmune diseases and limit chronic inflammatory diseases by keeping your immune system strong.
6. It will lower your blood pressure
With heart disease being the leading cause of mortality worldwide, you need to do your part to keep your heart healthy. One way to do so is by managing your blood pressure, and you can do this by spooning more.
A study published in Frontiers in Psychology noted that the role of oxytocin in the regulation of blood pressure is well documented and that various studies have revealed that the brain chemical can help to regulate as well as reduce blood pressure.
Do I have to have sex to spoon?
No, you don’t need to. You can still enjoy the benefits of spooning without actually having sex. In fact, you don’t even need to have a sexual partner if you want to spoon.
At the end of the day, you can give yourself a much-needed dose of oxytocin by cuddling with a friend, a family member, or even a pet.
Photo by Womanizer Toys on Unsplash
Big spoon vs little spoon – which one do I choose?
Usually, the taller person takes the role of the big spoon. This makes more logistic sense, and it tends to be more comfortable that way. However, this isn’t a set rule. Anyone, regardless of size or gender or orientation, can take on the role of the big spoon – it’s all about preference.
Photo by Becca Tapert on Unsplash
Want to know more?
Spooning can help build intimacy, which is great for anyone’s sex life. In fact, lack of intimacy may be one of the contributing factors behind the orgasm gap and why so many straight women are not having orgasms.
Jain, V., Marbach, J., Kimbro, S., et al. (2017). Benefits of oxytocin administration in obstructive sleep apnea, American Journal of Physiology-Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology 313:5, L825-L833
Jankowski, M., Broderick, T. L., & Gutkowska, J. (2020). The Role of Oxytocin in Cardiovascular Protection. Frontiers in psychology, 11, 2139. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.02139
Svensson, J.E., Svanborg, C., Plavén-Sigray, P. et al. Serotonin transporter availability increases in patients recovering from a depressive episode. Transl Psychiatry 11, 264 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41398-021-01376-w