Disappointing news for those hoping that a quick cuddle will lead to sex: only one in six cuddles between couples lead to sex, according to the first in-depth study into hugging habits.

Researchers said that cuddle sessions are more likely to be used to discuss previous events in the day rather than as a buildup to activity in the bedroom.

However, researchers noted that the intimacy that comes with holding your partner close does have some benefits between the sheets, as researchers found that participants who cuddled the most tended to report having better sex lives.

The study, published in the October in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior, found that the typical couple cuddles at least eight times a week, with each session lasting a little more than 45 minutes. Researchers found that the most popular cuddling locations were the sofa, armchair and bed, and that women tended to enjoy cuddling more than men.

Researchers from the University of Michigan asked 514 men and women in relationships about how often and the length of their cuddles and how cuddling made them feel. The participants were also asked about what they did when they cuddled and where they cuddled and when.

Researchers defined cuddle as "intimate, physical and loving contact that does not involve sexual behavior and that involves some degree of whole body touching, not just hand to hand or lips to lips". The findings revealed that the average cuddle lasts about 47 minutes and 36 seconds, with evenings being the most popular time for a cuddle session.

Researcher also found that couples were most likely to cuddle while watching a film or TV, followed by talking, having a massage, listening to music or reading. However, only one in six reported that sex was likely to follow. 

Participants who reported talking while cuddling were most likely to discuss with their partners what they had each done that day.

Men and women reported feeling nurtured, protective and relaxed after cuddling and rarely mentioned sex when questioned about what they did or felt during cuddling, but talked about love, intimacy, closeness and comfort.

"Data supported our expectations that cuddling would be perceived as nurturant and non-sexual. Participants reported feeling nurtured, protective, and relaxed after cuddling. They rarely invoked sexual themes in responses to questions about what they did or felt during cuddling, and instead reported themes like love, intimacy, closeness, and comfort," lead researcher Dr. Sari van Anders and colleagues wrote in the study.