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The Science Behind Why Cuddling a Plushie Is Good for You

The Science Behind Why Cuddling a Plushie Is Good for You

Have you ever grabbed a pillow, stuffed animal, or blanket when you needed comfort or a safe place to take a break? You’re not alone. Cuddling a plush toy or snuggling up with a soft blanket is an instinctive way to find solace in the midst of chaos.

But did you know that cuddling a plushie can actually do more than just keep you cozy? Science has revealed that there are physiological and psychological benefits associated with hugging and holding your favorite stuffed animal.

The next time you need some extra TLC, reach for your favorite plush toy. We’ll show you exactly why it’s worth it—both in terms of emotional and physical health—by delving into the science behind cuddling with our furry companions.

What Are Plushies?

Plushies, also known as stuffed animals, are cuddly companions that come in all shapes and sizes. They can be purchased at stores of all kinds or even made by hand. Plushies have a variety of functions—they can provide comfort, security, and a source of affection. Research has shown that cuddling a plushie can offer psychological and physical benefits that stretch beyond these comfort effects.

Plushies are ideal companions to help you manage feelings of anxiety and stress. Cuddling a plushie triggers your body's release of oxytocin—known as the “love hormone”—which is linked to happiness, contentment, and bonding. The tactile stimulation causes your brain to release dopamine and serotonin, two neurotransmitters involved in pleasure processing. This combination makes cuddling a plushie an incredibly therapeutic way to relax, reduce stress levels and improve moods.

The Impact of Cuddling a Stuffed Animal

Cuddling a stuffed animal is more than just something to do in your spare time. You may not have known it, but cuddling a plushie has scientifically proven benefits. Studies have shown that cuddling can have positive effects on your psychological and physical health.

A University of California San Diego study showed that adults who interacted with a plush toy had their stress levels drop significantly compared to adults in the control group. The study found that those who interacted with a toy experienced a decrease in cortisol levels, which lead to lower levels of stress and anxiety.

Additionally, researchers from the University of Vienna found that hugging plush toys increases oxytocin levels and contributes to an overall feeling of well-being and satisfaction. Oxytocin is often referred to as the "feel-good" hormone because it helps reduce stress and anxiety, relieves depression, and encourages the formation of strong relationships with others.

Not only does cuddling improve psychological health, but it can also lead to benefits for physical health as well. Cuddling increases levels of serotonin, which helps regulate digestion, sleep cycles and appetite and can also be beneficial when dealing with chronic pain or inflammation.

Psychological Benefits of Cuddling With Plushies

Cuddling a plushie can have tremendous psychological benefits. Not only does it help to reduce stress and anxiety, but it can also help you to develop a healthier relationship with yourself.


Having a plushie to cuddle can make it easier to practice self-care. By embracing the simple act of cuddling with a plush toy, we give ourselves permission to treat ourselves with kindness and compassion. This can help us to form healthier habits, such as taking time out of our day for relaxation or getting more sleep.

Stress Relief

Having something soft and comforting to cuddle in times of stress can be immensely calming. Studies have shown that physical contact with a stuffed animal can lead to reduced levels of cortisol (the “stress hormone”) in the body and decreased feelings of anxiety and depression. This can help us take control of our emotional health, so that we are better equipped to handle life’s challenges.

Improved Sleep Quality

Cuddling a plush toy has been proven to improve sleep quality and reduce difficulty falling asleep. Holding something soft is not only calming but also provides comfort and security – all necessary for getting restful sleep - which is essential for proper functioning throughout the day.


Science-Backed Benefits of Snuggling With Plushies

Plushies are great for more than just cute Instagram snaps - cuddling them has real science-backed benefits. The comfort and warmth of a plushie helps to reduce stress, build endorphins, foster relationships with others, and even combat loneliness.

Stress Reduction

When you cuddle a plushie, your body releases oxytocin, the same hormone that your body produces when you’re hugged by someone close to you. Oxytocin helps reduce levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, which can help reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. Not to mention that plushies provide a perfect warm and cozy companion to help distract you from stressful situations in the moment.

Enhancing Social Connectivity

When you cuddle with a plushie in front of someone else, it can actually help enhance your relationship with them. By demonstrating vulnerability and tenderness in front of others, it helps foster trust and connection with those around us; including our furry friends!

Combating Loneliness

Cuddling with a plushie can help relieve feelings of loneliness or even grief due to the feeling of comfort it offers. Studies have shown that people who regularly snuggle their plushies felt an improved mood and greater ease in socializing with others due to the feeling of security provided by their cuddly companion.

Research on Children & Adults Interacting With Plushies

You don't have to be a child to enjoy cuddling a plushie; it turns out there are real benefits for both children and adults in interacting with stuffed animals.

Research has found that people of all ages who interact with plush toys experience improved mental health and significant stress relief. These benefits have been seen in two main ways:

Psychological Benefits

Studies show that cuddling plushies helps to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety as well as improve self-confidence, especially in people dealing with low self-esteem. It seems that the calming effect of holding a comforting object works on both children and adults alike.

Physiological Benefits

Recent studies also suggest that hugging stuffed animals helps to regulate heart rate, lower blood pressure and reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol. As such, it can help you relax, improve your sleep cycles, and help you feel better overall.

How to Choose the Perfect Plushie for You

When it comes to plushies, the choice is yours: big or small, soft or firm, stuffed or bean bag? But regardless of what you choose, the act of cuddling a plushie will bring you comfort.

So how do you pick the perfect one for you? Here are some things to consider:

Softness and Texture

Soft, silky materials tend to be more comforting and calming than sturdier fabrics. You can even find plushies with different textures and colors that all offer a unique feel.

Shape and Size

Smaller plushies are easier to hug and cuddle, while larger ones may provide more of a sense of protection. Consider which size will bring you the most comfort.

Filling Materials

Plushies can be filled with foam, stuffing, beans or pellets - but whichever material you prefer, make sure it’s visible on the label so that you can tell how durable your plushie will be.

Cuddling a plushie may not be for everyone, but it’s an accessible, affordable, and enjoyable way to reap the numerous benefits that come from physical contact. It has a real, measurable, and scientifically proven impact on our physical and mental health.

It’s a comforting reminder that while our lives may be stressful, it’s possible to find joy in the simple things. So pick up a plushie, cuddle up, and feel the stress melt away.


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