What does the position you sleep in say about your personality? You may be shocked to learn it may reveal quite a lot about you according to some studies.
Links between personality and sleep position have been mentioned for decades. The most common sleep positions include fetal, stomach, log, starfish (back with arms up), soldier (arms to the side on the back), and yearner (side with arms more or less straight out in front). Some of the more recent surveys include one by a British hotel chain Premier Inn and another by Dr. Chris Idzikowski.
The hotel chain asked over one thousand British people questions regarding their personality traits and which position they slept in. While the information is intended for fun and is certainly not definitive, the survey did provide interesting information on sleep position popularity and a little body-language based analysis of what each might mean.
Idzikowski also conducted a survey of a little over one thousand people in Britain asking about sleep position preference and self-described personality traits. However his results did not hold up among Southeast Asians, showing that the links are not universal. Here is what professor Idzikowski said:
“We are all aware of our body language when we are awake but this is the first time we have been able to see what our subconscious posture says about us. What’s interesting is that the profile behind the posture is often very different from what we would expect.”
Let’s see what they discovered. Below, we will go over the results of both as well as offer tips for comfortable sleep and for each position.
Sleep Positions and Personality
While this information won’t tell you if your partner is an axe murderer, there are some interesting correlations between sleep position and personality. Take a look at what they have found.
The following sleep positions and their correlated personality traits according to the surveys are a fun way to gather more possible insight into our personalities as well as understanding underlying stresses we may be facing. Below are the collective results from both surveys (the percentages come from Idzikowski’s survey).
Sleeping like a log on one side with arms straight down to the side was seen in about 15% of the survey and is considered the favored of people who are easy-going, trusting, gullible, but may be inflexible in their thinking.
Yearners, those who sleep with their arms straight out were about 13% of people, and though open-minded and eager, may be cynical, suspicious, stubborn and quick to give up. People who prefer side sleep position often wake up stiff and sore and may benefit from stretching both at night and in the morning. In addition they need conforming support in a mattress to reduce pressure points and keep the spine aligned.
The fetal position is lying on the side with knees pulled towards the chest was the most popular, particularly with women. Over 41% of the people in the study reported sleeping in this position which is considered to be an effort to comfort themselves at the end of the day.
Associated traits include a soft interior which is camouflaged by a tough exterior, shy but warm, conscientious, organized and ready to face the day. Adding a pillow between the knees may be beneficial for people who prefer this sleep position.
Stomach sleepers were referred to as “free-fallers” holding onto their pillows with arms to the side. They comprised 7% of the study and list personality traits such as outgoing, brash, anxious and a feeling of not being caught up on a daily basis.
This position can increase back and neck pain and many people who sleep on their stomachs do not use pillows. However, it is imperative to have full body support to minimize back pain. If a pillow is used, it should be one that is very thin and soft to help keep the neck in a natural position.
Soldier sleepers lie flat on their backs with their arms near their bodies and down to the side. This position also leads to problems with snoring which can decrease the overall quality of sleep, but overall is considered the best for pain prevention. Personality traits associated with the soldier position include expecting people to perform to a higher standard, quiet and reserved.
Eight percent of the people in the study preferred this position, which may be made more comfortable by adding a thin pillow below their knees just as with the starfish. Use of a contour pillow and firmer mattress can help minimize back pain as well.
The starfish sleeper lies on their back with arms raised up near their head. This leads to increased snoring and less rest. Personality traits include good listening skills, discomfort being front and center and helpfulness. Five percent of the respondents in the study preferred sleeping as starfish and may reduce discomfort by placing a thin pillow under their knees.
Summary of Sleep Position Research
Here is the short and sweet version of Idzikowski’s surveys and Roberts Phipps’ body language analysis.
- Fetal sleepers give off a tough exterior but are sensitive inside (Idzikowski). Conscientious and ordered, but prone to worry and overthinking (Phipps).
- Log sleepers are extroverts and easy going (Idzikowski). Inflexible, rigid, stubborn and bossy (Phipps).
- Yearners are cynical, slow decision makers but open minded (Idzikowski). Chasing life and their dreams and eager to take on the day (Phipps).
- Starfish are good listeners and introverts (Idzikowski).
- Soldiers are quiet, reserved and have high expectations (Idzikowski).
- Free fallers are sensitive extroverts who dislike criticism (Idzikowski). May feel like they lack control and have anxiety (Phipps).
Is there a real correlation between the way you sleep and your character? Probably not a very strong one. A majority of the professional medical/psychology communities ascribe comfort and simple personal preference to sleep positions rather than any deeper mental meaning or fixed personality traits.
Trying to find positions that increase comfort and decrease pain as we age may cause our favored position to change through the years. Your preferred position today may not be your favorite in a few years.
Matching Your Mattress to Your Sleep Position
The position you sleep in should inform your choice of mattress. Each sleep position creates pressure points in different locations and affects spinal alignment differently. Here are the levels of mattress firmness to use with each type of sleeper. While your sleeping position may be hard to change, you can find a mattress that suits what you need.
- Stomach sleepers – People who sleep on their stomach should have a firm mattress. These mattresses provide minimal give to relieve pressure on the knees, but won’t allow the sleeper to sink enough to cause stress on the back.
- Back sleepers – Medium-firm mattresses are best for back sleepers, allowing the spine to sit naturally with no pressure points.
- Side sleepers – To maintain proper spinal alignment, people who sleep on their sides need a mattress soft enough to allow the hips and shoulders to sink in a bit. A plush mattress offers the right amount of support and give.
- Combo sleepers – People who don’t stick to one sleep position, instead using a combination of styles, should use a medium-firm mattress. These beds are in the middle on the firmness scale, providing good support for every position.
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Sleep Position & Health
There has been some scientific research conducted on health and sleep positions, which identify back sleeping as ideal for preventing back and joint pain as well as minimizing skin aging. Side sleeping is second best, but people should take care to ensure their mattress supports proper alignment, use a cushion between the knees to prevent lower back pain, and use a soft pillowcase to minimize wrinkling.
The fetal position adds concerns of joint pain and restricted breathing to the side position. Stomach sleeping is considered the worst because it can create lower back pain, neck strain and alignment problems as well as put pressure on organs and facial skin, but can reduce snoring.
A recent study showed that sleeping on your side may be good for your brain. The waste created by our brains during waking hours seems to be removed better when we sleep on our sides. Here is what they found:
“This Stony Brook University study showed that mice sleeping in the lateral sleep position were more efficient at removing wastes from the brain. Using dynamic MRI and kinetic modeling, researchers measured the efficiency of waste removal for mice in three different sleeping positions-supine (on the back), lateral (on the side), and prone (on the stomach).”
Find a comfortable position that you can fall asleep quickly in. While it may not reveal your character flaws, the position you sleep in can affect your sleep and the way you feel the next day.
Take the sleep position poll below and tell us what your sleep position means!