Alone, many of us tend to have a go-to sleeping position whether that’s spread out on our back or in a fetal position right in the corner of our beds.
And it’s usually just a matter of comfort.
But as we share a bed with our partners, it’s about more than just this and can actually reveal more about our relationships that we might think.
We spoke to Elizabeth Kuhnke, communications specialist and author of Body Language: Learn How to Read Others and Communicate with Confidence, about what our favourite sleeping arrangements say about us and our partners.
Back to back and far apart
“While you might think that sleeping with your back facing your partner with a space between you is less than romantic, studies have shown that this is the most common sleeping position among couples,” says Kuhnke.
“The position is practical and demonstrates that the couple is connected, secure, close and independent in the relationship.”
And what about our favourite classic, the spoon?
“Spooning is a classic position among couples,” Kuhnke confirms.
“This position demonstrates that one person in the couple is protective over the other. In addition, the position is sensual, as it leaves the person being spooned in a sexually vulnerable position.
“By allowing yourself to be spooned you’re letting your partner know that you trust him or her.”
But not all is always well in the realms of spooning, she explains:
“If the spoon turns into a chase in which your partner has retreated toward his/her side of the bed and you’re following in an attempt to maintain the closeness, beware.
“Something in the relationship is amiss.”
Not all spooning positions are of the same nature, however.
“New couples tend to have more physical contact in bed than those who are in a mature relationship,” Kuhnke says.
“Once the novelty of sleeping together wanes, reverting to positions that make you feel comfortable and produce the best quality of sleep takes over. For this reason, the Loose Spoon is most common among couples in a mature relationship.
“The spooner still has the spoonee’s back, in effect saying ‘you can count on me’ without the sexual implications of closer spooning.”
Anyone who’s been in the early days of a quick and fiery relationship will be familiar with ‘The Tangle’:
“A couple’s body parts being wrapped around one another is a sign of intense emotions – such as those experienced after making love – or at the beginning of a romantic relationship,” Kuhnke says.
“While some couples maintain this position throughout their relationship, it can become a negative position, indicating that the individuals are too enmeshed or dependent on one another to sleep apart.”
Back to Back and Butt Touching
While it mightn’t seem the most romantic positions, Kuhnke says that the ‘Back to Back and Butt Touching’ position is far from it, and actually “signals that the individuals are relaxed and comfortable with one another”:
“They feel confident in their relationship and appreciate their own space,” she explains.
“By facing away from one another you’re signaling that you have the ability and desire to be independent, while keeping butt contact shows that you still feel sexually connected.”
“In this sweet position, one partner rests their head on the other’s chest, while their legs intertwine,” Kuhnke describes.
“This position is common in early relationships and occasionally in rekindled ones.”
Apparently, this is a “nurturing” posture that creates a sense of protection, thus signalling a high level of trust and comradeship:
“Sleeping on your back indicates confidence and self-assurance,” Kuhnke elaborates.
“When your partner sleeps on his back and cradles your head in his arms as you rest your head on his chest, the message is that he has power and is using it to protect you.
“Facing your partner in the fetal position and resting your head on his chest indicates that you depend on him.
“If you sleep with your head on your partner’s chest while the rest of your body is sprawled across the bed, you’re signalling that you want to make your own decisions.”
Face to face
While face to face might seem to be the go-to in steamy romance films, Kuhnke says all is not as it seems.
“Sleeping face to face is an unconscious attempt to make eye contact throughout the night,” she explains.
“If your partner suddenly turns to face you, he is probably feeling distant and wants to connect. He might also want more intimacy, especially if he presses his pelvis against yours.”
Sleeping on Your Stomach
Bad news for stomach sleepers, as this can signal feelings of anxiety, vulnerability, and a lack of sexual trust:
“Sleeping on your stomach protects the front of your body,” Kuhnke points out.
“Unless there are physical reasons for sleeping on your stomach, such as back or neck issues, individuals tend to sleep on their stomachs because they are afraid to or just don’t want to face their emotions.
“If you notice your partner sleeping facing down, you can cuddle up to make him feel protected.”
The Bed Hog
“If one person sleeps like a starfish and their arms and legs are splayed across the bed, you can bet that this person is pretty selfish,” says Kuhnke (and we can’t say we’re too surprised).
“If you find that your partner does this, and takes the position a step further by pushing you to the point that you’re hanging off the bed, the time has come for you to have an honest conversation with your partner about the state of your relationship.”
Bodies apart while feet touch
“Because your feet are further away from your brain than any other part of your body, they are under the least conscious control and can be counted on to give honest insights into the person’s state of mind,” she explains.
“If your partner’s body isn’t touching yours and he/she starts playing footsie under the duvet, you can count on this as being a sign of craving emotional or sexual attention.”
Sleeping different distances from the headboard
What’s in a headboard? A great deal, actually:
“People who sleep with their heads close to the headboard tend to feel dominant and confident. Those who slide down the mattress could be signalling feelings of subservience and low self-esteem,” Kuhnke concludes.
“Couples who sleep with their heads at the same level show that they’re connected and those people who sleep with their heads touching show that they’ve got like minds and know what the other person is thinking.”
Whichever position is our favourite, we can guarantee we won’t see hopping into bed beside our partners without thought anytime soon.
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