The Hidden Body Language of How You Sleep: 6 Positions and What They Mean

by Ekua Hagan ; Updated October 17, 2017

Your favorite sleeping position could mean more than you realize–even if you toss and turn. Take a look at six of the most common sleep positions one study found, and find out what yours might say about your personality and health. Are you a bed hog? Tightly crouched, fetal sleeper?

According to a study conducted on 1,000 survey participants by sleep specialist Chris Idzikowski, director of the Sleep Assessment and Advisory Service in London, there are six main sleep positions, and when analyzed, match up to certain personality traits.

1. The Fetus You sleep curled up on your side, often with one arm under the pillow. You’re found to be tough on the outside, yet sensitive and vulnerable. You’re reserved at first when you meet new people, but you eventually warm up.

2. The Log You sleep on your side, with both arms down and legs straight, showing that you’re overly trusting, but on the plus side, you’re very easygoing and social.

3. The Yearner Like The Log, you’re a side sleeper except you extend both arms out in front of you. You’re open to people and experiences, yet inwardly cynical, making you cautious and deliberate when it comes to making decisions.

4. The Soldier You sleep flat on your back–arms down and legs straight. You’re practical and shy, with a tendency to be judgmental of both yourself and others.

5. The Freefaller You sleep on your stomach with your arms up around the pillow. You’re a bold, extroverted personality, with a secret soft side that cannot take criticism.

6. The Starfish You sleep on your back, with both arms up over the pillow and legs extended. You’re both friendly and humble, seeking to help others instead of grabbing the spotlight for yourself.

…and What These Positions Mean to Your Health Besides any subconscious personality traits (as described above), the way you sleep can also impact your physical health. Here are some of the general pros and cons of sleeping on your back, side, or stomach.

Sleeping on your back Pros: Great for minimizing wrinkles (nothing pressing on your face or chest), as well as acid reflux, as long as you elevate your head a bit with a pillow so that it’s higher than your esophagus. Cons: Be warned that back sleeping can actually cause lower back pain, so consider putting a pillow under your knees to keep your spine in natural alignment.

Sleeping on your side Pros: Reduces neck and back pain since it maintains the natural curve of your spine. Cons: Can cause shoulder pain, unless you support the space between your head and shoulder with your pillow.

Sleeping on your stomach Pros: You might not snore as much. Lying facedown keeps the airways more open. Cons: This position puts a lot of stress on your lower back, pinches your nerves, and can leave you waking up tingly. Put a pillow under your pelvis if you prefer sleeping this way, to help push your spine back into normal position.

Photo credits: Elizabeth Jerman & The Better Sleep Store