Body language can say a lot about you before you even open your mouth. But did you know that you can convey deep-seated personality traits without even being awake? Professor Chris Idzikowski, Director of the Edinburgh Sleep Centre and the Sleep Assessment and Advisory Service, feels your favorite sleep position says a lot about your personality. It can predict your temperament, introversion or extroversion, and the way you relate to others.
While your favored sleep positions may be an assumed habit, your body may not like it very much. Certain positions can aggravate physical conditions while others can help reduce joint, hip and spine pain. Read on to discover your sleep personality and how to use your nightly zzzzz’s to improve your health.
This position looks just like the five-pointed sea creature and may be unpopular for others in the bed. A starfish spreads out on their back and takes up all the space.
If this is your favorite sleeping position, you’re likely outgoing, friendly and a good listener. Despite being greedy with bed real estate, starfish sleepers are known for their generosity.
Tip: If you spend a lot of time sitting over a computer, spreading out while you sleep may help your muscles relax. You may wish to put a cylindrical pillow or rolled-up towel under the small of your back to support the natural curvature of your spine.
Fetal position sleepers lay curled up on their sides, like a baby in the womb. It’s one of the most common positions, up to 40% of adults claim to favor it.
The self-protective, curled-up position of a fetal sleeper reveals an equally self-effacing personality. While they may have a tough exterior, fetal position sleepers may also be shy, yet kind once you penetrate their protective outer layer.
Tip: This is one of the most natural ways to sleep and may be comfortable for those who have stomach issues and acid reflux.
In this position, you have your arms behind your head and are lying flat on your back like you’re looking at the stars above.
This position is popular for power nappers. People who prefer to sleep with their closed eyes to the heavens may be more creative and “big picture” thinkers. These personalities are also loyal and will do anything to help family and friends.
Tip: If you have problems with your shoulders and elbows, this position can exacerbate the pain and stiffness of the joints. If you like sleeping on your back, consider a “soldier” style with your arms at your sides or your hands on your stomach.
You may enjoy hugging a pillow or wrapping yourself around a body support while curled on your side. While some people may hug a pillow tightly in a fetal position, others may stretch out their legs and back, clutching it in a cuddling manner.
If you hug a bed or body pillow while sleeping, you tend to be nurturing and caring.
Tip: Pregnant women may find that extra support from pillows underneath their bellies or between their legs for their hips help soothe the pressure on their pelvis and lower back.
Sleeping on your stomach, with your head to the side, is another very common position. Sometimes this posture is called a skydiver, especially when you wrap your arms around a pillow or use your arms as a pillow.
Much like the playful and risk-taking nature of a real-life skydiver, those who sleep in this position are gregarious and outgoing, the “life of the party” types. Friendly and personable, a skydiver may also be stubborn.
Tip: If you have back problems, taking pressure off a sore spine while you sleep may feel better. However, use only a thin pillow when sleeping in this position, as too high of a stack can place undue strain on the neck and cause stiffness in the morning.
This position resembles a toy soldier — on your back with arms at sides or spread slightly like the corpse pose in yoga.
Just like a soldier, people who prefer this position may be rigid, with disciplined, regimented personalities and high standards of perfection. While they may be relaxed and kind to loved ones, a soldier sleeper personality is most definitely a Type A in work and school.
Tip: For people who have a hard time relaxing to fall asleep, using this position and yoga breathing techniques may help with occasional or chronic insomnia. There are also medical benefits to sleeping in this position.
Similar to the fetal position and pillow hugger, the “yearning” sleeper lies on their side with arms outstretched as if grasping for something just out of reach.
While the name of this position may suggest someone always seeking dreams, yearners are actually stubborn, and while they may take a long time to make a decision, once they’ve made up their mind, it’s hard to budge them. Yearner sleepers may also be more cynical than other sleep style personalities.
Tip: If you have a hard time finding a comfortable position, this one may be a good option. The yearner position allows your spine and joints to settle into their natural line.
A good night’s sleep is restorative for your body as well as your mind. When you choose a position that helps relieve certain bodily stresses, it can boost your physical health, flexibility and balance. Regular sleep and consistent bed and wake times can improve your mental health, focus, and school and work performances.
© 2021 American Sleep Association.