What Are The Benefits Of Cuddling And Co-Sleeping Of All Ages? Cuddling For Partners and Co-Sleeping For Parents and Children Or Parents and Infants

What Are The Benefits Of Cuddling And Co-Sleeping Of All Ages?
Cuddling For Partners and Co-Sleeping For Parents and Children
Or Parents and Infants

Let me begin by saying that communicating through touch is SO important it has its own field of science known as Haptics. ‘Haptics’ is a word that comes to us from Greek, meaning ‘I fasten onto’ or ‘I touch.’ In his book, “The Stages of Human Life,” J. Lionel Taylor tells us that “The greatest sense in our body is our sense of touch… we feel, we love and hate, are touchy and are touched, through the touch corpuscles of our skin.” And since our skin is the largest organ of our body there is lot of communication possible through touch.

The first portion of our brain to evolve on top of its reptilian heritage is the limbic system, the seat of emotion. It is this portion of the brain that permits mothers and their babies to bond and loving couples have it when they cuddle and co sleep. Loving touch triggers the release of oxytocin, often referred to as the "bonding hormone."

According to Tiffany Field, PhD, director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami, “Cuddling stimulates pressure receptors in the skin that create a host of effects, including reducing levels of the stress hormone cortical, lowering heart rate and blood pressure, and improving digestion.” And research says it works the same in adults. Touch has been found to increase self-disclose, rapport and comfort. When the well-known therapists Masters and Johnson were helping couples overcome problems they recommended time together just cuddling.

According to bio behavioral scientists at UCLA School of Medicine, touch is critical to a baby’s brain development. Developmental neuroscience research finds that the infant brain is designed to be molded by the environment it encounters. In other words, babies are born with a certain set of genetics, but they must be activated by early experience and interaction. In the critical first months of life, events are imprinted in the nervous system.  “Gentling” is the behavior that involves the stroking and touching of newborns of humans and other animals. 

“Hugs and kisses during these critical periods make those neurons grow and connect properly with other neurons,” says Dr. Arthur Janov, in his book, Biology of Love, “You can kiss that brain into maturity.”

Studies in bonding also show that human babies who are held often and touched frequently in their earliest stages of development have higher scores on physical, emotional, and interpersonal scales (Klaus & Kennell, 1976; Field et. al., 1986). Mothers and babies are hard-wired for the experience of togetherness through breastfeeding, co-sleeping, and baby carrying.

Patti Wood, MA, Certified Speaking Professional - The Body Language Expert. For more body language insights go to her website at www.PattiWood.net. Check out Patti's website for her new book "SNAP, Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language and Charisma" at www.snapfirstimpressions.com. Also check out Patti's YouTube channel at http://youtube.com/user/bodylanguageexpert.