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21 Common Couple Sleeping Positions, What They Mean & the Best Ones

A couple’s sleeping position says a lot about how they feel toward each other, be it a leg hug or sleeping back-to-back. Learn more about the common positions and the best ones you should use to overcome the challenges of sleeping with a partner!

couple’s sleeping position

Remember when your mom lectured you on how important sleep is? Well, she’s been right this whole time. She probably didn’t mean it in the context of a couple’s sleeping position, but that’s open to interpretation.

You may spend every night lying beside your partner with your phone in your hand and back facing towards them. Or maybe you nuzzle into your partner’s shoulder, cuddling together until you fall asleep.

Believe it or not, the sleeping positions you and your partner have reveals a lot about your subconscious. 

In fact, while you’re sleeping, this is the time when your subconscious has full control and clearly shows you, through body language, things that may be going on within your relationship.

And you know what? You probably don’t even notice. 

So, to find out what’s really going on in your relationship, off to the bedroom! We won’t be in the bedroom with you, but we’ll help guide you through the things you need to look at when sleeping next to your partner. [Read: How to cuddle with a guy and snuggle up to feel cozy or turn him on]

What does science say about sleeping positions? 

According to research, sleeping positions can say a lot about the dynamic between a couple.

Most couples prefer sleeping with some physical contact with each other – 94% of them. This sleeping position indicates that they have a healthy bond. Conversely, people who don’t share a bed with a partner might have troubles in their relationship. 

So, this indicates how couples sleep, and that their positions reflect how they feel about one another. It can mean that they feel comfortable and secure or that they have a desire for intimacy. [Read: Commitment in a relationship – 27 ways to show it and feel secure in love]

The most popular sleeping position is back-to-back, which is preferred by 42% of couples. The next most popular one was couples sleeping facing each other, 31% of couples sleep like this. This suggests that they like their own space, but also like to be close.

In general, the farther apart a couple sleeps from each other, the worse their relationship is overall.

Benefits of sleeping with a partner

Do couples sleeping together make their relationship better? The answer might be pretty obvious.

Sleeping together as a couple is very important to the quality of the relationship. It allows you to be open and vulnerable to your partner, which fosters bonding. [Read: 16 secrets to a perfectly happy relationship]

When you sleep and cuddle together, both people’s brains release oxytocin, which is called the “love hormone.” This super relaxed sleeping position bonds the two people and makes them feel secure and empathetic, thus improving your overall sleep quality.

Some people say that they feel more secure when they have their partner sleeping next to them. This might be because they feel physically protected in case someone breaks into the house in the middle of the night. Or it could be due to some other insecurities inside the people.

The only exception to the rule that sleeping together is beneficial is if both people in the relationship have different work schedules. In this case, it might be better to sleep separately. But that doesn’t mean that the relationship is troubled. [Read: Unhappy relationship – 25 traits of sad love and lies you tell yourself]

Couple’s sleeping positions and what they mean

Here are the twelve most common sleeping positions for couples and their meaning in your relationship. Don’t freak out if you sleep with your back facing your partner, it doesn’t mean your relationship is doomed.

If anything, this is a great opportunity to become more self-aware about your relationship. Let the unraveling of your subconscious begin *insert mystical music and smoke machine here*.

1. The spoon

Ah yes, the spoon- one of the classic couples’ sleeping positions. Funny thing is, only 18% of couples sleep in this position.

For some women, the thought of a man draping his whole body around them for eight hours is dreadful. [Read: How to spoon right – tips to make spooning more intimate]

But this position, also known as the “traditional position,” shows protectiveness and bonding within the relationship. Also, it’s a pretty sexual pose when you look at it, so usually couples who sleep close like this position indicate they are sexually comfortable with each other.

2. The loose spoon

It’s basically the traditional spooning position, however, there’s some space between the couple. It’s an evolved spooning position. The space between the couple shouldn’t be seen as something troubling.

In fact, this actually shows there is trust built between the two people, and they don’t need to have constant physical contact. [Read: The secrets to spoon someone and make spooning feel romantic and intimate]

If you sleep in this position with your partner, there’s mutual respect and agreement on the importance of sleep. Hurrah for space!

3. The chasing spoon

You’ve probably never heard of this partner’s sleeping position. Half of you probably sighed and thought, “I still have to chase them.” It’s not exactly like that. 

The chasing spoon looks like a traditional spooning position, but the person being “chased” moved away from the center of the bed, meaning the other one will have to “chase” them to get close. [Read: How to keep your partner interested – 30 effortlessly easy and sexy ways]

This doesn’t mean your partner isn’t interested in you or is distancing themselves. This could simply mean they want more space in the bed, or that they want to be pursued by you. 

Time to make your move… so the chase is still on.

4. The tangle

This doesn’t look comfortable to a lot of people. However, if you and your partner sleep in the tangle position, this symbolizes your desire for each other. [Read: 16 non-sexual touches to feel connected and loved]

This touching sleeping position is usually used by many couples who are in a new relationship. However, if you’re a year into the relationship and you’re still sleeping like this, you may want to think about your dependency on them.

5. The back kissers

Essentially, you fall asleep facing back-to-back, however, with your backs touching while sleeping. Though you’re not facing each other, the fact that you’re both touching each other shows your connectedness even though you enjoy your own space.

This position is also common in new couples or for couples who’ve been together for a while and developed trust and comfort within the relationship. [Read: 28 kissing tips and secret techniques to make you a much better kisser]

6. The unraveling knot

If you were a Girls/Boy Scout, this is a great way to test your developed knot-tying skills. This position may be similar to the loose spoon. It is common among couples who have been together for a solid chunk of time.

Basically, they start entangled in each other and eventually untangle, ending up in their own space. Not a very popular position because who wants another person breathing into your face for hours on end? 

However, this position symbolizes the balance between independence and intimacy. [Read: How to give space in a relationship without drifting apart]

7. The liberty lovers

Another addition to the different couple sleeping position is also called back-to-back. Usually, this is a regular position among couples who have some years under their belt. 

The liberty lovers sleep back-to-back and also have space between them. You’ve probably been biting your nails anxiously at the position.

This one actually shows your bond and security with your partner. But if your partner is all the way on one side of the bed, right on the edge, this could indicate some distance and issues within your relationship. [Read: The importance of space in a relationship]

8. The nuzzle

The nuzzle is a classic position for those in new relationships or rekindled relationships. This position is when one partner sleeps on the other’s chest. 

A lot of women feel protected and cared for when they have a large arm wrapped around them. It might even bring them back to the caveman days.

This is exactly what this position symbolizes. The partner sleeping on their back illustrates confidence and shows that they’re protecting their partner. [Read: 35 not-so-obvious things your guy loves about you]

While the person resting on the other’s chest shows that they’re independent, yet appreciative of their partner.

9. The leg hug

Another cute couple sleeping pose is the leg hug. There are a lot of possible meanings behind the leg hug position, so let’s go through this one together.

If you both have your legs intertwined in each other’s, then this could also mean you’re sexually and emotionally connected, and you two are balanced individuals. [Read: The health benefits of hugging that will make you want to cuddle more]

But if only one person is hugging the other’s leg, this shows they’re looking for a connection lacking in the relationship.

Thirdly, this position also means that since the contact between you two is subtle, it implies you have mixed feelings about the relationship, or you’re trying to maintain a connection. Yeah, it’s a lot at once.

10. The space hog

 Well, this is just rude. Not only is it rude, but it also shows you what kind of person they are. 

If they’re taking up the whole bed and stealing all of the blankets, this shows their need to take. Meaning, they’re probably selfish and not aware of your needs. [Read: Selfless love – 18 traits that set it apart from selfish love]

If one person takes over the whole bed, it shows they’re likely the dominant one in the relationship, while the other one is submissive.

It’s also assumed that if your partner’s head is higher and closer to the headboard, then they’re more likely more confident than the other. 

However, if you both sleep with your heads at the same, it shows you are like-minded. [Read: Selfishness in relationships – 15 tips to do the right thing]

11. The shingles

Who doesn’t love shingles? This position in no way has anything to do with a nerve infection. The shingles is when both partners sleep on their backs, with one person resting their head on the other’s shoulder.

Interestingly enough, people who sleep on their backs usually have larger-than-life personalities, so this comfortable sleeping position for couples signifies who the protector is and who the dependent is in the relationship.

Okay, don’t freak out and think you’re weak because you rest your head on your partner’s shoulder at night. This isn’t the case, actually, it shows the roles in the relationship. [Read: 25 must-follow relationship rules for happy love]

12. The stomach snoozers

Unless you’ve always slept on your stomach or suffer from neck and back issues, you may want to double-check your relationship. Sleeping on the stomach essentially means you’re protecting the front of your body.

This shows signs of emotional insecurity, vulnerability, and anxiety. If you sleep on your stomach, more likely it’s because you fear facing your emotions. 

Also, this position isn’t what you would call intimate. Perhaps, there’s a trust issue within your relationship that you need to confront. [Read: Spooning sex position – 20 sexy moves and hot reasons to spoon in bed]

13. The cradle

Now, this one sounds like you are sleeping like a baby, but this couple’s sleeping position has nothing to do with infants!

For this position, one person is sleeping flat on their back while the other person rests their head on the first person’s chest. Their legs and arms often “hug” each other.

This is a very intimate position because not only are most body parts touching each other, one partner can actually hear the other’s heartbeat. This may be comforting for some people, but not for others. [Read: 17 most intimate sex positions and tips to feel romantic while making love]

14. The cliffhanger

This position isn’t one that is very intimate. In fact, it’s one where both people probably don’t like to be touched while they sleep. 

So, for the cliffhanger, both people are lying on either side of the bed far away from each other. It could be because their relationship is in trouble, they are angry at the moment, or they just like their space when they are sleeping.

15. The paper dolls

This position is a good one if both people like to sleep on their backs and have minimal touching through the night. Both partners lay on their backs and either hold hands or gently touch each other’s arms and legs. [Read: The surprising benefits of cuddling and how it makes your life better]

This is a nice way to have your own space and not feel like you are “trapped” by your partner and can’t move. But you are right beside them and have gentle touches with one another.

16. The tetherball

Who would have thought that a couple’s sleeping position would be named after a playground game? But, that’s what happened.

For this position, both people sleep in completely different positions but simultaneously touch in even the slightest way. They may or may not be doing this purposefully. [Read: A clueless guy’s guide to cuddling after sex]

It could just be the middle of the night and they aren’t conscious that they’re in different positions or how much they are touching.

17. The soldier

For the last position, both people lie flat on their backs with their arms positioned down straight on their bodies. This doesn’t sound like a very intimate position, but it can be. If your bodies are touching all the way down your sides, then you can feel each other’s warmth.

But if you sleep in this position and are on opposite sides of the bed with your partner, then it’s not very intimate at all. Also, it’s the best sleeping position for people who like to sleep on their backs, not for side or stomach sleepers. [Read: 20 Loving and romantic touches in a relationship to make you feel closer]

How to get better sleep with your partner

Some people love to sleep all cuddled up and close together. But not everyone does. So, here are some tips to improve your sleep with your partner.

1. Plan a fixed time for you two if you have different sleeping schedules

If you’re a couple with very different schedules, sleeping with your partner may not be as simple.

If that’s the case, then sit down with your partner and try to find a fixed time to do so. That way, you can still get the benefits of cuddling together, at least for a short time.

2. Communicate

When it comes to sleeping position, some people like their space when they sleep and others like to be tangled up with their partner’s body. And if the two of you are opposite, you will have to find a compromise.

So, just talk to your partner about the different sleeping positions for a couple and see which one works best for both of you. If something is bothering you or you’re not in a comfortable position, just tell them. [Read: How to communicate in a relationship – 16 steps to a better love]

3. Get a comfortable mattress and pillows

Having a bad mattress and pillow won’t contribute to quality sleep for either of you. So, get a good mattress that you both find comfortable.

Also, it’s a great idea that couples sleep with a pillow that supports their neck so they won’t wake up in the morning with muscle aches.

4. Choose sleeping positions that work best for you both

As we just said, you will have to compromise. If one of you prefers to sleep apart on opposite ends of the bed and the other doesn’t, then just experiment with different positions until you find one that both of you enjoy so you can have a good night’s sleep.

[Read: 20 things happy couple don’t do in a perfect relationship]

When you wake up in the morning, take a look at how you and your partner are sleeping. Don’t freak out if it’s a position that is somewhat questionable. This will help you identify what you need to work on in your relationship.

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Carol Morgan LP
Dr. Carol Morgan
Dr. Carol Morgan has a Ph.D. in communication and is a professor at Wright State University where she loves corrupting young minds. As a relationship and succes...