Sleep: we all need it, and most of us never feel like we got enough of it.
The average person spends nearly a third of their lives sleeping, and for good reason – sleep is critical for the body and the mind. It’s when the body and brain both get a chance to recover from the day’s activities, repairing any minor damages and solidifying new connections.
At this point, most of us know all about how important sleep is, but fewer people have probably paid attention to their sleeping style. Are you a side sleeper or a back sleeper? Do you sleep in the fetal position or all spread out? These aren’t the kinds of things most of us spend a lot of time thinking about…but maybe they should be.
A study conducted at the University of Hertfordshire surveyed over 1,000 participants to see if there were any connections between their preferred sleeping position, their personality traits, and the quality of their relationships. Their results were quite surprising.
One of the most significant correlations that the researchers observed had to do with touch. Amazingly, a whopping 94% of couples who spent the night in contact with one another rated their relationship as very happy, compared to only 68% of couples who didn’t. Additionally, sleeping further apart was also an indication of relationship issues, as 86% of couples who slept less than an inch apart described their relationship positively, compared to only 66% of couples who slept 30+ inches apart. For anyone who’s been in a bad relationship, this probably makes intuitive sense.
Researchers also found that most couples (42%) prefer to sleep back-to-back, followed by roughly 31% facing the same direction. Only about 4% of couples spent the night facing each other, which makes sense if you think about how unpleasant it might be breathing in your partner’s hot breath all night long!
As if that weren’t interesting enough, there’s also been some pretty interesting research done regarding the position you sleep in and how that correlates to your general personality. Professor Chris Idzikowski at the UK’s Sleep Assessment and Advisory Service identified nine distinct sleeping positions, each of which seems to correspond to certain personality traits.
1. Fetal Position: Sleeping in the fetal position, on your side with your knees tucked in towards your chest, is easily the most common sleep position with around 41% of participants saying this is how they sleep.
Personality-wise, people who sleep like this tend to have a tough exterior, but are actually big ol’ softies at heart. They are usually reserved when they first meet someone, but they’re quick to open up and relax once they get to know someone.
2. The Log: The log position, sleeping on one’s side with arms by their side and legs out straight, is the reported sleep position for about 15% of people. It might seem like it’s for boring people, but it’s not!
From a personality standpoint, log sleepers are actually social butterflies who are carefree and popular. However, they can also be too trusting of others, which can sometimes lead to trouble.
3. The Yearner: Roughly 13% of participants slept in a position called the “yearner,” where one sleeps on their side with arms out in front of them.
People who sleep in this position are usually open-minded, but can also be quite cynical and suspicious. They’re slow to make up their minds, but rarely change their opinion once it’s formed.
4. The Soldier: Much like it sounds, this position is like a soldier at attention, only asleep – on the back, straight body, arms at the sides. Only about 8% of participants reported sleeping like this.
People who sleep in the soldier position are generally quiet and reserved. They also have a tendency to hold themselves to a much higher standard than others.
5. The Freefaller: This is kind of an odd one – it entails sleeping on your stomach with your arms wrapped around the pillow and your head turned to one side.
Personality-wise, “freefallers” are usually quite bold and outgoing. However, they’re usually not as thick-skinned as they might seem on the surface and take criticism pretty harshly.
6. The Starfish: This position is definitely best for those who sleep alone, as it involves spreading yourself out over the whole bed with your limbs sprawled all over the place.
Interestingly, while this position might seem to indicate a selfish nature, starfish sleepers actually tend to be great friends! They are always willing to lend a sympathetic ear or a helping hand to a friend in need.
7. The Stargazer: This position looks much like it sounds – lying on your back with your hands under your head, just like you might do if you were lying in a field and looking up at the stars.
People who sleep in this position are usually willing to go out of the way to help someone they care about. They’re the type to literally give you the shirt off their backs if you needed it and have a generally positive outlook on life.
8. The Pillow-Hugger: Just as it sounds, these are people who like to hug the pillow as they sleep.
These people tend to be very affectionate towards the people they care about and cherish those relationships above all else.
9. The Thinker: This is essentially the fetal position, but with one hand gently nestled up under the chin.
“Thinkers” tend to be quite emotional in everyday life, usually somewhere at the extreme end of any emotion. This isn’t to say that they’re emotionally unstable – they just tend to feel whatever they’re feeling much more intensely.
And now you know.