What the way you sleep with your partner means about your relationship

On the surface, sleep may seem like a simple human activity in that sleep = bliss. But, when you truly analyze how you sleep, it can reveal a lot.

For instance, a lack of sleep can easily be a sign that something is stressing you out. It can also be related to something much more serious: an anxiety disorder. Three-fourths of adults who suffer from a sleep-anxiety combo say that a lack of sleep has, in turn, made their anxiety worse.

Aside from the fact that sleep can say a lot about your psyche, did you know that it can also reveal or indicate some things about your relationship? Little Things points out that while spooning with your significant other may be super comfy, there’s actually some science behind it. There is, in fact, an explanation behind each and every sleeping position that you and your partner partake in. Let’s discuss.

Right off the bat, whether or not you and your other half are touching can say a lot. “One of the most important differences involved touching, with 94% of couples who spent the night in contact with one another were happy with their relationship, compared to just 68% of those that didn’t touch,” said Professor Wiseman, a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire.

It turns out that 42% of couples sleep back-to-back. 

This can then be split up into two different positions: “the back kissers” and the “liberty lovers.”

Let’s start with “the back kissers”: when your butts are touching as you drift off into dreamland. If you and your bedmate fall into this category, that means that you’ve probably been together for more than one year. It also proves that you are comfortable with one another, according to a study conducted by psychologist Corrine Sweet.

As for the “liberty lovers,” 27% of couples prefer this style. It occurs when a couple sleeps back-to-back, but with a bit of space in between. Even though this may seem like a bad thing, it isn’t. In fact, Dr. Sweet says that such a couple is “connected and secure in themselves. This position shows both closeness and independence in the relationship.” Go, “liberty lovers”!

When it comes to spooning, only 13% of Americans admit to creating a big spoon/little spoon situation. Huh.

“It’s a very vulnerable position that’s sexual, but says, ‘I trust you,’” reveals Patti Wood, a body language expert and author of Success Signals, A Guide to Reading Body Language.

Marriage and family therapist Dr. Jane Greer states, “People who enjoy spooning are really comfortable with the intimacy they share. They literally want to hold onto it throughout the night, feeling safe and secure by touching each other and staying connected.”

Apart from the more traditional spooning position, there’s also the loose spoon: spooning, but with some distance between you. This formation tends to manifest itself in couples who have been together for a while. It’s not as sexual, but is still a protective position, according to Paul Rosenblatt, who wrote Two in a Bed: The Social System of Couple Bed Sharing.

Compared to the 42% of couples who sleep back-to-back, 32% prefer to sleep facing one another

This manner of sleeping isn’t as straightforward, since it could represent four different positions: “the nuzzle,” “the unraveling knot,” “the leg hug,” and “the tangle.”

“The nuzzle” often occurs when a couple is getting to know one another or when romance has been rekindled. Most importantly, when one partner sleeps with their head on the other partner’s chest, psychologist and marital therapist Shirley Glass says that this is a beautiful sign of trust.

Now, “the unraveling knot” is a bit more complex. It starts out with a cuddling couple, but as time goes on, this couple separates. This could be because they don’t like breathing on one another (hey, we get it, morning and night breath is tough) or maybe someone’s hair got in someone else’s face. Luckily, there’s nothing to worry about here because Dr. Sweet says that there’s no problem involved: “[it’s] a compromise between intimacy and independence, allowing for the best of both worlds.” Got it.

“The leg hug” can mean two things: 1) one partner is craving a connection or 2) both partners feel passion for each other. You know you’re doing the leg hug (which sounds like a bizarre dance move) if your legs are, well… hugging. If you both initiate this hug whilst you are asleep, it means that you feel an emotional or sexual connection. But, if only one partner is participating in this hug, it’s probably an indication that they require more attention.

In the beginning of a relationship, “the tangle” is perfectly normal. BUT if this continues after six months, it can suggest that you are co-dependent. Psychotherapist Elizabeth Flynn Campbell reveals that “[the couple] could be overly enmeshed, too dependent on each other to sleep apart.”

If your partner is a “space hog,” this is bad news. 

When it comes to relationships and sleeping positions, the “space hog” is definitely one that you should watch out for. It happens when one partner spreads out in a starfish position and takes up all the room on the bed. In other words: they’re being, uh, selfish.

“One partner dominates the space, while the other takes a secondary role,” said Sweet. And since a relationship should be all about equality, this is definitely a warning sign.

Rather than analyzing each position separately, Professor Wiseman told The Telegraph that there’s one specific thing that couples should watch out for:  “The key issue is if you have a couple who used to sleep close together but are now drifting further apart in bed, then that could [be] symptomatic of them growing apart when they are awake.”

After taking all of this into account, it’s safe to say that couples who sleep well together, stay together.

(Images via FOX, Shutterstock)

Filed Under