Have you ever wondered why your boyfriend would rather cuddle up to his teddy bear than you? Or do you sleep intertwined with your lover every night? When we sleep, our bodies are at their most honest and vulnerable, so nighttime could be the time we communicate things we wouldn’t say in the light of day.
Journalist, sleep counselor and author of The Well Rested Woman Janet Kinosian, says: “There's no 'best' position for sleep - one's sleeping position is like a signature - and for couples it’s a personal connection between two people.”
[Relevant article: Habits that cause you to lose sleep]
A bedtime cuddle is important. Janet adds: “Physical contact of any kind is relaxing as people wind down from the tensions of the day. If you have a mate or partner and cuddle-up prior to sleep, it's something that can relax and also build and maintain intimacy between partners.
“Humans crave physical closeness and contact. It makes one feel safe and protected, which is important for good sleep.”
[Relevant feature: Create the perfect sleep environment]
But what does the closeness between you and your partner at night say about the rest of your relationship? Janet, and psychologist Peter Spalton explain.
This is when couples sleep side-by-side, curled up with one another in the fetal position. It is the most common position adopted by couples during the first few years of their relationship.
Peter says: “This is a very loving position. It's the same as a back-to-front hug when he's standing at the sink doing the washing up and she comes up behind, putting her arms around him. It’s a sign of love and affection.”
“Spooning with the male behind traditionally signals a protective, traditional partnership,” says Janet. “The woman wrapping behind the man indicates a more nurturing female-driven relationship.”
Wrapped in each other’s arms
If you sleep wrapped up together, there are no prizes for guessing that you’re very fond of one another.
“This is the usual position that couples adopt immediately after sex,” says Peter. “However it can be quite uncomfortable after a bit because at least one person's arm falls asleep”.
“People in the early stages of a relationship tend to want to be close together for longer throughout the night,” says Janet.
Do you sleep with your faces and bodies facing each other? Janet explains: “This is generally an early-on in the relationship position, when people are still in the honeymoon period, craving each other.
Peter adds: “This is an unusual position because things like your knees and arms get in the way. You also end up breathing on each other which is fine if you want to kiss, but not if you want to sleep”.
Back to back
What does it mean if you sleep facing away from your partner? “Back to back traditionally indicates a more generalised lack of closeness and more independence in a relationship,” says Janet.
Peter adds: “This is known as the post-argument position. It's a signal to the other person that you're not interested in being intimate or loving in any way. Not a good way to start the night.”
This position takes one of three forms: sleeping on the edge of the bed with a big gap between you, twin beds in the same room or separate bedrooms.
Peter says: “Separate rooms usually means one of the couple is a heavy snorer, or the sexual part of the relationship is over.”
“Twin beds mean either the sex is not spontaneous any more, or one of the couple is a disturbed sleeper (tossing and turning a lot), which would affect the other person.”
Janet adds: “It’s not necessarily a terrible thing; if too much noise, teeth grinding, too little room in the bed or blanket issues keep one partner from getting the proper rest, a separate bed or bedroom might be in order.”
“People shouldn't feel as if they must be intertwined to have a positive, healthy relationship,” says Janet. ”People are unique, need their sleep and if someone needs more personal space than another, that's ok.
“There are many people who have good, solid long-lasting relationships who have strong personal space needs in their bedroom habits.
[Relevant feature: Talk to your doctor about your insomnia]
“Being constantly over-tired, stressed and run-down from lack of sleep is often much worse in the long run for a couple than shifting into a more pleasurable sleeping situation, even if that means into another bed or room altogether.
“It's about communicating your needs and desires - which is what any successful partnership is based on.”
How do you and your partner sleep? What do you think it says about your relationship?