Different Sleep Positions: On Back, On Side

What your sleep position says about you

We all know the amount of sleep we get is key to staying healthy. But research has also shown the way you sleep —curled up in a ball, face-down to shut out the world or snuggled around a body pillow — can speak volumes about the waking person.

Here are six types of sleep positions and what they might say about you:

Sleep Position: Fetus
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The fetus

The most common sleep position used by about four in 10 people is the fetal position, curled up and resting to one side, according to British researcher Chris Idzikowski. The sleepers “are described as tough on the outside but sensitive at heart. They may be shy when they first meet somebody, but soon relax.” Another British researcher, Robert Phipps, echoes that fetal sleepers can be characterized as worriers with tough exteriors and soft inner dispositions. Incidentally, a North American study conducted by a mattress company in 2013 concluded that the fetal position is the most popular on this side of the pond as well.

The log

The next most popular sleep position is “the log,” in which the subject faces one side with their arms hanging straight down, parallel to their body. About one in six people sleep this way. “These sleepers are easygoing, social people who like being part of the in-crowd, and who are trusting of strangers,” Idzikowski found. The downside of this personality trait, the research says, is gullibility.

The yearner

If you sleep on your side with your arms outstretched in front, experts define you as “a yearner.” Yearners are “said to have an open nature, but can be suspicious, cynical,” according to Idzikowski. “They are slow to make up their minds, but once they have taken a decision, they are unlikely ever to change it.” In Phipps’ view, yearners tend to have an open nature but might also be craving more out of life.

The soldier

Perhaps the most literal representation of personality comes through the “soldier” sleep position, which Idzikowski claims is an indicator of stoicism. Nearly one in 10 sleep on their backs with arms pinned to their sides as if they might awaken to the sound of a bugle at dawn.

“People who sleep in this position are generally quiet and reserved. They don’t like a fuss, but set themselves and others (to) high standards.”

Sleep Position: Starfish, Freefall
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The freefall

Sleeping in “freefall” entails lying face down with arms wrapped around the pillow and the head turned to one side. Idzikowski’s research says these sleepers are “often gregarious and brash people, but can be nervy and thin-skinned underneath, and don’t like criticism, or extreme situations.”

The starfish

The least popular yet most humble and friendly sleep position is the “starfish” — lying on one’s back with arms and legs falling wherever they may, usually in the general pattern of an asterisk. These sleepers, Idzikowski believes, “make good friends because they are always ready to listen to others, and offer help when needed. They generally don’t like to be the center of attention.”

Impact on health

While your sleep position may be able to identify key personality traits, it seems they can also impact your health in several ways.The starfish and soldier positions might promote snoring and make for a less refreshing night’s sleep, while lying flat on your back also can impede digestion and promote acid reflux, according to Idzikowski .

The Wall Street Journal concurs, noting that sleeping on one side is best for both respiration and digestion during the night. The Journal also notes that people tend to toss and turn more as they age.

Get in sleep-ready formation with these simple stretches to reduce stress and get you in the mood for rest, no matter what your preferred sleep position.

Written by Amy Lynch

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