We all sleep, but did you know that the way we sleep says a lot about who we are as individuals?
For instance, if you sleep on your back, it often means you're the strong, silent type; if you sleep on your stomach, it typically means you have an open, gregarious, and playful personality.
So, what happens when you throw different sleeping styles — and personalities — into one bed? Or really, any two individual personalities into one of the most intimate and venerable situations we humans experience?
It's actually quite fascinating.
When we sleep, our subconscious minds take over. Because of this, the body language we use with a partner while we snooze can be a remarkably precise way to gauge what's going on in our relationships.
Patti Wood, a body language expert, says our sleep patterns determine how well our relationships are working, "Even if you can't or don't articulate those things while you're awake."
Many other experts and psychologists agree with this idea and have conducted studies and written books on the subject. They've uncovered the ten most popular couple sleeping positions and the secrets they found about each are intriguing.
Written by Elyse Wanhel.
1. The Spoon
According to a study done by relationship psychologist Corrine Sweet, the position is only adopted by a fifth (or 18 percent) of couples and demonstrates a dynamic in which "one partner takes a protective stance over the other."
Although it's a sweet, it can also be a little saucy. "It's a very vulnerable position that's sexual, but says, 'I trust you,'" says Patti Wood.
2. The Loose Spoon
New couples tend to have the most physical contact in bed, but once the relationship matures, the novelty of sharing a mattress wears off.
The loose spoon is typically what couples who are a fans of spooning eventually do, once their relationship matures and each individual wants to revert to a position that produces the best quality sleep, says Paul Rosenblatt, author of Two in a Bed: The Social System of Couple Bed Sharing.
It's like the big spoon saying, "I've got your back; you can count on me," but it's not as sexual as spooning closer, Woods said.
3. The Chase
This is like spooning, but it's when one person is in pursuit of the other. One person has drifted to the other side of the bed, and the other one is "chasing" them.
This can mean two things: One, that the person who's being chased wants to be pursued, or is playing hard to get. Or, two, it's "illegal spooning": the person retreated because they want space, says Samuel Dunkell, author of Sleep Positions: The Night Language of the Body.
4. The Tangle
This extremely intimate position is even more rare than the Spoon. It tends to happen when there's either intense emotions at play (like after lovemaking), or at the start of a romantic relationship.
Some couples maintain it throughout their relationship but it isn't necessarily a good thing. According to Elizabeth Flynn Campbell, a psychotherapist, "[the couple] could be overly enmeshed, too dependent on each other to sleep apart."
5. The Unraveling Knot
This position starts with The Tangle position, but then unravels after 10 minutes or so.
Believe it or not, this position is a sign of a stronger relationship than The Tangle. Yet, only eight percent of couples adopt this two-part position. Dr. Sweet said it's "a compromise between intimacy and independence, allowing for the best of both worlds."
6. The Liberty Lovers
If you and your partner sleep facing opposite directions with space in-between, don't fret. This is actually a good thing.
According to a study by relationship psychologist Corrine Sweet, couples that sleep back-to-back without touching are "connected and secure in themselves. This position shows both closeness and independence in the relationship."
It's also popular: 27 percent of couples prefer this sleeping style.
7. The Back Kissers
If you sleep back-to-back but you touch with your butts or backs, this is a good thing — but it's also novel.
According to Dr. Sweet, this means "Both partners are relaxed and comfortable with one another." But this position is more common amongst newer couples, or those that have been together for under a year, rather than a long-term duo.
8. The Nuzzle
This sweet position, in which one partner rests their head on the other's chest while their legs are intertwined, is often seen in early relationships and occasionally rekindled ones, says Dr. Sweet.
This is a very nurturing posture that creates a sense of protection. Shirley Glass, a psychologist and martial therapist, also notes, "There's a high level of trust here," as this snuggling position has a "strengthening sense of comradeship and protection."
9. The Leg Hug
9. The Leg Hug
According to Wood, if your partner plays footsie with you in bed or intertwines their legs with yours, it means they crave an emotional or sexual connection. A pair of tangled legs is also a sign that the two of you can't get enough of each other — even when you're sleeping.
"It means your lives are intertwined, that you function as a pair. You probably finish each other's sentences and take care of each other," Wood says.
10. The Space Hog
If a partner takes the "starfish position," one in which they sprawl out and hog the bed, this means they tend to be selfish, especially if they begin to push the other partner so they're hanging off the bed. If this is happening in your relationship, it's time to have an honest conversation.
"One partner dominates the space, while the other takes a secondary role," says Sweet. And most people don't want to play second fiddle.
You can also tell who's dominating a relationship by where their heads are when they sleep.
When a couple's heads are right next to each other, it means they're equal. And if they touch, even better — it's a sign they have like-minds and know what's going on in each other's heads, Wood says.
People who sleep closer to the headboard tend to feel more dominant and confident, while those who place their heads further away from it tend to be submissive and have lower self-esteem.
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This article was originally published at www.littlethings.com. Reprinted with permission from the author.