5 Benefits Of Spooning & Why You Should Do It More, From Relationship Experts
Spooning is easily one of the most well-known cuddling positions, and for good reason. Doubling as a sex position, it has so many 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?
Spooning is a cuddling position that typically involves two people lying on their side, facing the same direction, with the "little spoon's" back against the front of the "big spoon." The big spoon will often wrap their top arm around the little spoon.
As the name suggests, the position resembles the way spoons look when stacked, with their curves fitting together.
How spooning benefits your relationship:
One of the biggest benefits of spooning is the feeling of closeness it fosters between partners. As licensed therapist De-Andrea Blaylock-Solar, MSW, LCSW-S, CST, tells mbg, it enhances intimacy, and not just sexual intimacy. "When people are thinking of intimacy, they immediately think of sexual intimacy, but there's so many other types, and spooning can increase or enhance the emotional intimacy that we feel with someone," she explains.
Fosters vulnerability & protection
Depending on whether you're the big spoon or little spoon, this sleep position can foster feelings of vulnerability, safety, or protection. "With your partner lying behind you, holding you, you get the feeling of being supported and cradled," certified sexologist Gigi Engle previously explained to mbg, adding, "It's romantic because it gives you a feeling of unity and comfort."
Releases feel-good hormones
Along with being good for your relationship, spooning (and cuddling or physical touch in general) releases feel-good hormones in your brain like oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin, according to Blaylock-Solar. "Also dopamine and serotonin are released in your brain when you are in close embrace with someone, and that's what increases that feeling of closeness," she notes.
May support your immune system
Speaking of those feel-good hormones, there are added health benefits of spooning thanks to all that oxytocin. As functional medicine practitioner William Cole, IFMCP, DNM, D.C., previously wrote for mbg, cuddling increases oxytocin, which boosts your T-regulatory cells—and those cells are essential for keeping your immune system balanced and strong1.
Can help those dealing with pain and stress
Along with giving your immune system a hand, Cole also explains that research has shown2 oxytocin is actually able to help people dealing with pain, feelings of anxiousness3, and even suboptimal digestion. This is because oxytocin boosts T-regulatory cells, which have anti-inflammatory actions, he explains.
Big spoon vs. little spoon.
Regardless of the actual sizes of the two people, the big spoon is the person who is embracing their partner from behind, and the little spoon is the person in front being embraced. Any gender can play either role, though typically the cis-het stereotype always has the man as the big spoon and the woman as the little spoon. And while there's nothing wrong with that, Blaylock-Solar tells mbg it can be nice to switch it up sometimes.
"Being the one who is embraced can give you an opportunity to be in a vulnerable position where you can be supported," she says, adding, "Often because of toxic masculinity, a lot of guys don't feel they have space to do that, but being the one who's embraced allows you to receive the benefit of that expressed vulnerability and knowing that you're safe."
When we're in a safe and loving relationship, we have the opportunity to operate outside of those cultural constructs, Blaylock-Solar says. So while everyone may have their preference of being the big or little spoon, who doesn't want to be held sometimes?
Positions & variations to try.
The standard spooning position is typically two people lying next to each other facing the same way, with the little spoon's back against the big spoon's front. But according to Blaylock-Solar, there are a few other positions that could be considered spooning.
For instance, one partner could lie on their back, while the other person lies across their chest, not quite all the way on top of them but enough that they're essentially "spooning" them in a different way.
You could also spoon toward each other, with the little spoon curled up and the big spoon's arms wrapped around them.
As Blaylock-Solar explains, "I think any position where one person is the holder and the other person is being held counts, and understand that for different body types, sizes, or abilities, you just have to figure out what works best for you."
Spooning as a sex position.
While spooning doesn't have to be sexual, it certainly can be, and since it doesn't require a position change, cuddling like this can potentially get steamy if you want it to. Vaginal or anal penetration are both an option while spooning, and certified sex therapist Megan Fleming, Ph.D., previously told mbg that the spooning sex position is great for G-spot stimulation, lasting longer in bed, and having more intimate sex. She also says this is a good position to go for if you have a high sex drive or if you want to slow things down to last longer.
As far as having sex this way, Blaylock-Solar has a few tips. For one thing, you'll want to be flexible—and not physically flexible but rather mentally flexible. "It may not look like what you've seen in porn, so understanding that it's OK if your body looks a little different as you're trying to get the right angle," she says.
In addition to that, you can optimize the experience with things like pillows or wedges to help find the right angle. Blaylock-Solar adds that this is also a great position for using toys for different types of stimulation.
The bottom line.
Whether you're spooning to cuddle or spooning to have sex, this position can be incredibly intimate, release feel-good hormones, and even support your holistic health. So, if it's been a while since you did some spooning, consider it added to your to-do list.
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, a registered yoga instructor, and an avid astrologer and tarot reader. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from State University of New York at Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.