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21 Couples Sleeping Position Meaning

by Sonya Schwartz

Sleep is not as glamorous as the media makes it look at times, but there is a lot more to it than what meets the eye. You’ve probably heard how much the way you sleep can say about your personality. The positions you assume in those few hours of shut-eye is apparently a reflection of not just what you're like as a person but also what's going on in your mind

For instance, people who are most comfortable sleeping on their back are considered strong and stable and are more likely to snore. Stomach sleepers, on the other hand, are usually more happy-go-lucky and gregarious, although it’s hardly the best position to spend one-third of a lifetime in either. 

But have you ever thought about sleeping position with respect to your relationship? If it says so much about your solo, should it also apply to couples? Did you know the side of the bed one partner sleeps on can be their subconscious revealing through body language what they’re probably yet to disclose? 

Should you be worried if the only way you can fall asleep is with some space between you and your significant other? If you’re even the least bit curious about the possible emotional implication of the way you sleep with your partner, you might find this piece on couple sleeping positions fascinating.

21 Couple Sleeping Positions And Their Meaning

1. The spoon

The spoon

Spooning is a widely known lying posture among lovers, but evidently not the most popular sleeping position. Corrine Sweet, an author and relationship psychologist, found in a study that only about a fifth of couples sleep this way.

The spooning position is romantic, more popular in new relationships, which communicates trust and a thriving level of intimacy. A partner – the big spoon – protectively embraces the little spoon from behind while they both sleep sideways facing the same direction.

The convenient position of the genitals gets the love hormones flowing, which is why it’s a fav among new couples who can’t keep their hands off of each other.

2. The loose spoon sleep position

This is still the spooning position but better. Feeling your partner’s breath on the back of your neck and their member poking against you from behind sounds good, but the lack of space therein can cause friction. Enter the loose spoon: the posture which allows just as much intimacy without sacrificing comfort as far as couple sleeping positions are involved. Here, you will still find a big spoon and a little spoon.

The little spoon sleeps with their back facing the big spoon as above, but the couple maintains a few inches between them to make room for movement. Partners who start off sleeping in the spooning position usually find themselves doing it as their relationship grows from the honeymoon stage into something more secure.

The loose spoon means you’ve got each other even if they need to blow the other’s back out is no longer as urgent. It's among the most comfortable couple sleeping positions. It’s still a great option in a new relationship.

3. The chasing spoon

Another variation of spooning, the chasing spoon position differs from the original in that one person moves away from the center of the bed while the other follows. Here, the big spoon appears to be in pursuit of the small spoon to maintain contact. Partners don’t particularly sleep facing each other here.

Unless the small spoon is partial to sleeping on a particular side of the bed, this position can mean that they want some space from their partner. It can also suggest the drifting partner enjoys being chased. 

Author of Sleep Positions: The Night Language of the Body, Samuel Dunkell calls this particular kind of spooning the “illegal spooning,” because it could mean that someone is obviously not taking no for an answer. This couple needs to have a serious conversation to have with each other.

4. The moon landing

This is the most relaxing position for couples who enjoy sleeping on their side without spooning each other; the moon landing is when partners sleep with their butts touching. Also known as the back kisser, this is usually a transient sleeping position adopted by new couples who want to lie well but also stay in contact on different sides of the bed.

From here, it can either progress to full-blown independence in bed or remain that way, depending on how much room you have to move. A University of Hertfordshire research found that about 42% of couples sleep back-to-back with each other.

5. Liberty lovers

Speaking of progression, couples who sleep back-to-back without touching each other are called liberty lovers. This position has you and your partner facing opposite directions with at least a few inches of space between you. The aforementioned relationship psychologist, Dr. Corrine Sweet, found in a study that a couple who sleeps this way are often connected and secure. As far as the couple’s sleeping positions go, this is a good one.

According to her, this sleeping position is often a sign of closeness and independence in a relationship. It can, however, also be a cause for concern if one partner suddenly switches from a more expressive position to sleeping without touching.  

6. The entangled couple

Also called the tangle, this position shows a more uncomfortable stance in the long term but is also one of the most intimate for a couple. The couple sleeps facing each other with both parties’ arms and legs intertwined. It is relatively uncommon, though, as couples don’t usually sleep in this manner unless they are new or in a situation where intimacy outweighs the comfort of their body.

This position could mean that the couple is deepening the bonding process after an emotionally-charged encounter like just after a serious fight or post-lovemaking. People who sleep like this can be exhibiting a sign of unhealthy dependence in your relationship if sleeping like this is the norm for you and your partner. Note that this stance could do harm to your body.

7. The unraveling knot 

Do you ever not want to hug your partner closely in bed because you can’t get enough of their skin but also know you can’t possibly sleep well in intimate sleep positions? There is a compromise for that, and it’s called unraveling knot.

The couple here can bond and bask in each other’s warmth for as long as they want then untangle just like that when they are ready to doze off. Couples who sleep in this position are usually those who have been with others long enough to balance intimacy with independence.

If this is you and your SO’s preferred couple’s sleeping position, it’s a sign you trust each other enough to be apart and still be good. All pointers of a healthy relationship.

8. The sweetheart cradle

My personal favorite from experience – the nuzzle. From its name, you can already tell that this position is sweet, at least for the one partner who is facing away. Here’s how it works; one person lies flat on their back while the other sleeps beside them with their head resting on the lying partner’s chest.

You can freestyle with your arms, but the legs lock in an embrace of their own. The stronger partner is usually the one who lies down, essentially bearing the weight of their SO. 

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The cradle is similar to the spoon position in that they are both highly intimate thanks to the unspoken trust and the high amount of body contact involved. It’s however not the comfiest body position to sleep unless your partner enjoys waking up with numb limbs. Altogether, it is a sign you are secure.

9. Face to face, with contact

Face to face, with contact

This couple’s sleeping position sees you and your partner facing each other as you sleep, just in case the name didn’t give it away. But it doesn’t stop there, your hands or legs will also be in contact with yourselves. You can probably already guess what this is a sign of.

If we had to go by sleeping positions alone, going to bed like this can be a sign of equality among partners, especially if your heads are on the same level. It also signifies a friendship between couples, the kind you find in a content, happy relationship.

10. The pillow talk position

Alternatively, partners also sleep face to face without touching each other in a position called the pillow talk. Partners who are also friends usually get there by sharing all and everything with each other, hence the name. 

However, couples who sleep across from themselves like this without contact can also be a plea for attention, especially if they have had some relationship issues on the side. Then there is the other downside to sleeping face to face as a couple, which is having to endure their breath directly on you all night.

11. The cliffhanger

The cliffhanger can happen as a result of anything from couples coming home tired and falling asleep right away to actual relationship problems that need addressing. The position sees partners sleeping sideways on one side or either side of the bed with no form of contact whatsoever between them.

The name comes from a foot hanging over the edge of the bed, which often happens as a result of tiredness. However, if you have reason to believe there’s more to sleeping like that can cause fatigue, you should probably get on it before your relationship deteriorates any further. 

12. Leg hug

The leg hug is one of those couples sleeping positions that just wants everyone to be happy. You both sleep, however, works best for you while your legs do the reaching out. The level of contact might range from the occasional grazes to being fully entangled.

As for the meaning, it can be your partner’s method of letting you know they want some loving or they’re just a restless sleeper. If it’s the former, it’s more reassuring if you both do it to one another, instead of one partner doing it all the time.

13. The shingles

The uncomfortable name aside, this position is actually quite the opposite of that. Shingles are a lot like the sweetheart cradle except that the nuzzler rests their head on their partner’s shoulder instead of the chest. Also, both partners lie on their back as opposed to one partner sleeping sideways, and the legs may or may not intertwine.

This shows an imbalance in the power dynamic in the relationship, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Just the usual thing you see in relationships where a person plays the protector with their partner’s blessing.

14. The tetherball 

Another couple sleeping position that lets you be yourself and allows one1 partner to do the same without compromising intimacy in bed. Like the leg hug, you can assume different sleeping positions and still be connected with your SO in bed in the tetherball position.

How it works is, one person, forms the ball by curling up and facing sideways while the other lies on their back. The person sleeping on their back places a hand on their partner’s hip or thigh, and that unassuming contact is the tether between them. 

This sleeping style will most likely be found in a relationship where familiarity exists without necessarily breeding contempt.

15. The paper dolls

This position is one in which partners sleep on their backs, right next to each other. The couple often maintains some form of contact between them either through their fingers, a slight touch of the arms, or legs. They may snore a lot, but the position is mostly a comfortable one for most people.

Couples who adopt this sleeping position aren’t just comfortable with themselves, they also have some personality traits in common. That is in addition to the potential health benefits like back pain relief and the rest.

16. The stomach sleepers

And then there are those partners who sleep on their stomachs. No matter how you look at it, this isn’t the best way to fall asleep. From a relationship angle, it can be a sign that a person is hiding something, or that you still feel the need to guard yourselves against the another.

Healthwise, it causes or exacerbates back and neck pain because of the pressure on your spine. But hey, at least, the backache can be one more thing you and your SO have in common, asides from the possible distrust.

17. The space-hog position

The space-hog position

The space-hog – also the starfish – is a position in which a person lays spread eagle across the bed, taking up most of the space. As a solo sleeping posture, this can have several health benefits, including heartburn and back pain relief.

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However, someone who sleeps in this manner with their SO in bed may not make the most selfless partner. They end up encroaching your side of the bed with an outstretched limb or the other. And as if that’s not bad enough, they are also more likely to disturb your sleep with snoring lying like that.

18. The military couples

Actually called the soldier position, this sleeping posture is exactly what came to mind when you first saw it. You and your partner sleep flat on your back, but not quite in the same manner as the paper dolls. Unlike the latter couple who maintains contact through their hands or legs, these partners leave a few inches between each other.

Each partner keeps their arms to themselves like on the parade ground and just focus on sleeping. As stiff as this sounds though, it is the fourth most popular sleeping position of choice among Americans, which might lead you to believe there’s more to it than the health benefits.

19. The log

Six percent of the same population sample favor a sleep position called the log. It isn’t quite as common as others, but it is still one of the most popular among Americans. This is kind of like the spooning position without the touching.

The couple sleeps on their side with their legs extended straight, and each person’s arms in place. Partners who sleep in this manner may or may not be big on intimacy, but they can at least use the phrase “sleep like a log” and mean every word.

20. Co-sleeping with baby or pet

Some couples each have their own sides of the bed while they dedicate the middle to their baby or pets. Some people also use pillows as a barrier, but it’s obviously not quite the same as having a living, breathing third-party sleep between you.

One of the reasons partners does this is to facilitate their bond with their (fur) baby and also for the psychological sense of security. However, it can signify a problem in your relationship if you have, so you in bed with your partner and still look to your pet to feel safe. 

It might also mean you and your partner are intentionally giving each other space and filling the intimacy void with your child or pet.

21. The fetal position

It felt right to end this list with the position we have all slept in at some point or the other in our lives – the fetal sleep position. You’d think babies would actually look forward to coming out of the womb so they can sprawl out when they sleep instead of having to curl up.

But it turns out many of us, precisely 47% of Americans, according to the Better Sleep Council, prefer to sleep in this manner. With 37 percent of the sample size voting it the best sleeping position, it’s safe to say that couples who sleep as if they are babies (pun intended) actually prioritize comfort.

FAQs

What your sleeping position with your partner means?

The sleeping positions you usually adopt with your partner can indicate where you both are on intimacy and where you are generally in your relationship. Those in a new relationship, for instance, usually can’t get enough of each other so they might be partial to sleep positions involving physical contact. Altogether,  each couple’s sleeping position meaning can gauge how well they're doing together. 

How do you comfortably sleep with your partner?

In addition to a good bed, your sleep position plays a significant role in how comfortably you get to sleep with your partner. The trick is to find the couple sleeping positions that work for both of you and go from there.

Is it healthy for couples to sleep apart?

Although they say the further apart couples tend to sleep, the worse their relationship is likely to be, that isn’t always the case. Sometimes, sleeping apart can be a sign of trust and security among lovers. Not being all up in each other’s personal space all the time can make the time they spend together all the more valuable. As long as that sense of independence doesn’t affect intimacy, it’s absolutely healthy.

Is it healthier to sleep naked?

There are several benefits surrounding sleeping in the nude ranging from skin to reproductive health. You are also likely to enjoy better sleep quality compared to going to bed clothed. Relationship-wise, sleeping naked can also help boost intimacy

Which side of the bed should the man sleep?

Between patriarchy and their instincts, men often assume protective roles in romantic relationships, especially heterosexual ones. This can subconsciously inform the side of the bed they sleep in too, which is usually the one closest to danger (the floor, the door, etc.) So, they can guard their partner.

The Bottom Line

A couple’s typical sleep position shows, first and foremost, how they both feel the most comfortable. While it can also say a lot about where you are in the relationship or whether something needs fixing, sometimes it’s just not that deep. 

So don’t freak out if what your favourite couple sleep position says about your relationship is worrisome, especially if you know there’s really no cause for alarm. As usual, kindly leave a comment and share the article if you liked it. Thanks.

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Sonya Schwartz
A hopeless romantic that struggled for many years to find her Mr "Right" and made all the mistakes you could think of while dating. Known for always choosing the wrong guys or messing up relationships, Sonya was finally able to change her approach and mindset when it came to dating which helped her eventually find the man of her dreams and become happily married. You can read more about me here...

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