man and woman sleeping on bed
Sleep Health

13 Popular Couples Sleeping Positions and What They Mean

    Last Updated
    March 16, 2023
    8
    min read

    If you've ever wondered what your sleeping position says about you, you’re not alone. Some believe that you can learn a lot about a person – and their relationship – from how they sleep. But what exactly can your sleeping positions say about you and your relationship?

    Some relationship and body language experts believe that your sleeping position may reflect your personality, as well as the current state of your relationship – whether consciously or subconsciously. 

    Here, we explore 9 couples sleeping positions and what they could potentially say about your relationship. 

    On the other hand, if you want to find out the best individual sleep positions, check out our guide on sleeping positions.

    Is There A Link Between Sleep Positions And Personality Traits?

    Some sleep psychologists believe that there is a link between a person’s preferred sleep position and their personality. British professor Chris Idzikowski, Director of the Sleep Assessment and Advisory Service and the Edinburgh Sleep Centre, surveyed over 1,000 adults to determine whether this was true. 

    Among Idzikowski’s key findings was that the fetal position, which is common in women, could be indicative of shyness and sensitivity. People who sleep like a log (lying on one’s side with both arms down) might be sociable and trusting of strangers. And those who sleep in the “soldier” position (lying on one’s back with arms pressed to the sides) may be more quiet, reserved, and perhaps enjoy being in control. 

    However, Idzikowski’s research is not without limitations. The survey findings didn’t hold up when conducted with a second group of participants. On top of this, survey participants reported on their own personality traits and sleep position – leaving a big opportunity for biased reporting. 

    In short, the science is still unclear on whether you can infer something about someone’s personality by observing how they sleep. 

    13 Popular Couple Sleeping Positions And What They Could Mean

    Some relationship experts also believe that a couple’s sleeping position can provide key insights into the state of their relationship, from their strengths to their fears to the things that bring the most stress in the relationship.

    Let’s take a look at the potential meanings behind some of the most common couple sleeping positions below. 

    1. The Spooning Position

    couple spooning in bed

    The spoon position is a sleeping position that entails having one person (the “big spoon”) hug another person (the “little spoon”) from behind in a protective stance. 

    This rather intimate position is one of the most common couple sleeping positions, especially for couples in the early stages of their relationship. Some relationship experts believe that couples who spoon likely put a lot of importance on physical touch.

    2. The Chasing Spoon

    man in woman in chasing spoon sleep position

    Unlike in the classic spoon, there is a bit of space between partners in the chasing spoon position. Usually, the little spoon will lay on one side of the bed in a log or fetal position while the big spoon adjusts their position to "chase" them.

    Some relationship experts believe that the little spoon may distance themselves from the big spoon in a bid for more space, both literally and figuratively. At the same time, the big spoon may want more attention. If you used to spoon with your partner and feel them pulling farther away over time, consider talking to them about a potential need for more independence in the relationship.

    3. The Loose Spoon

    man and woman laying in the loose spoon sleeping position

    This is another classic position similar to the spoon, but with far less contact and far more space between couples. The loose spoon isn't so much a sign of intimacy problems, but rather an indication that you and your partner don't need constant reassurance of each other’s affection.

    Couples who spoon loosely may realize, whether subconsciously or not, that sleep is just as valuable as closeness and touch

    4. Face-to-Face

    couple sleeping face to face

    If you sleep intertwined, this is also called "the lover's knot". This deeply intimate sleeping position is quite rare – only 8% of couples say they sleep this way.

    Like the classic spoon, sleeping in this position could mean that you and your partner are incredibly close and find comfort in constant touch. It could also mean that your relationship is fairly new.

    5. The Face-to-Face Without Touching

    woman laying face to face without touching

    In this sleeping position, couples face the center of the bed without touching each other. 

    Relationship psychologist Corrine Sweet told Reader's Digest that couples who sleep in this position may be in an "emotionally demanding" relationship. "This position shows a desire for intimacy and close communication", she says.

     

    6. The Butt-to-Butt

    couple sleeping with their butts touching

    If your preferred sleeping position is sleeping back-to-back while your butts touch, you probably don't have cause for concern. This position is often interpreted as a sign of trust.

    According to body language experts, this position is ranked the second favorite sleeping position among couples. It could indicate that partners feel at ease around each other and there is trust in the relationship

    7. Back-To-Back Without Touching

    man and woman laying back to back without touching

    Also called the “liberty lovers” position, this position has both individuals facing in opposite directions without touching at all. 

    This position could go both ways. If there is little space between the couple, it could simply mean that they're comfortable and secure enough to sleep apart. It is possible that the two people involved simply don’t enjoy the warmth of cuddling up under blankets together.

    However, if both parties lie on opposite ends of the bed, it could mean that you are in disagreement and unable to resolve an issue

    8. The Cradle

    couple sleeping in the cradle sleep position

    Also called "the nuzzle", this involves one partner laying their head on the other's chest, usually with their legs tangled together.

    This position may indicate that there is a sense of protection and security between the cuddling couple. Some say that this is a preferred position by couples who have just entered or rekindled their relationships

    9. The Leg Hug

    couple sleeping in leg hug position

    In this position, couples fall into their own individual positions, but keep their legs entwined to some level. This position could actually mean a few things, depending on the level of contact.

    If you're tightly intertwined, it could mean that you have a strong emotional and sexual connection. But if only one person is trying to entwine their legs with the other, it could be another chasing spoon situation.

    9. The Head-On-Shoulder

    couple sleeping with head on Shoulder

    Also known as the “shingles” position, this position has both partners sleeping on their backs, with one partner resting his or her head on the other’s shoulder. It may show a high level of comradeship, where one partner allows the other to play “protector” and nurture them. This position could indicate understanding and confidence in the relationship.

    10. The Leg Hug

    In this position, couples fall into their own individual positions, but keep their legs entwined to some level. This position could actually mean a few things, depending on the level of contact.

    If you're tightly intertwined, it could mean that you have a strong emotional and sexual connection. But if only one person is trying to entwine their legs with the other, it could be another chasing spoon situation.

    11. The Bed Hog

    Couple sleeping in the bed hog position

    This position has one partner assuming the “starfish”, where they are sprawled out with their limbs splayed and they take up the majority of the mattress space. Meanwhile, their partner takes a secondary role. Oftentimes, the partner is driven to the fetal position or may even sleep with one leg dangling over the edge of the bed.

    If the starfish partner begins to push their partner off, it may be an indicator that they are selfish in the relationship. In addition, if one partner both takes up space and places themselves higher than the other, it could be possible that they tend to see themselves as more dominant and confident. It may be good for the couple to have a frank conversation about the power dynamic in their relationship.

    If you’re the type of person who can’t help tossing and turning at night and seem to just revert to the starfish position without knowing it, consider looking into bigger bed sizes. That way, you lessen the chances of disturbing your partner in your sleep. Learn more about the biggest bed sizes here.

    12. The Double Stomach Sleeper

    The double stomach sleeper

    This is when both you and your partner fall asleep on your stomachs. Some body language experts believe that this position can indicate anxiety or a lack of trust in the relationship. Sleeping on your stomach could also mean you fear – whether consciously or subconsciously – being taken advantage of sexually. 

    Sleeping on your stomach also isn’t advisable because it puts the spine in an unnatural position. Eventually, this increases your vulnerability to lower back pain, neck strain, shoulder pain, and hip pain. 

    13. The Great Wall Of Pet(s)

    couple sleeping in great wall of pets sleeping position

    More and more people are treating their pets like family. This means sharing their bed with their pets – even if it means sacrificing comfort. Some relationship experts believe that putting your pet in the middle of the bed could mean that you’re avoiding something like a difficult conversation. 

    Get A Good Night’s Sleep With Purple – Regardless Of Your Sleeping Position

    The bottom line? Everyone deserves a good night's sleep, whether that means sleeping entwined with your partner or in separate beds.

    At Purple, we offer a wide variety of mattresses that are great for all kinds of couples. Learn more about Purple mattresses below.

    Frequently Asked Questions About Couples’ Sleeping Positions

    What is the best sleeping position for couples?

    Sleeping on your back or your side is better for your health than sleeping on your stomach. So, any position that lets you do that with your partner should be okay. 

    What position do most couples sleep in?

    Spooning is the most popular sleep position for couples.

     

    About the authors

    April Seifert
    Writer

    April has nearly a decade of writing experience, with 3+ years specializing in sleep content. Her work has been covered by sites like BuzzFeed, Entrepreneur, and Money Under 30. She has an M.A. in Magazine, Newspaper, and Online Journalism from Syracuse University and a B.A. in Communication Studies. As a self-proclaimed expert in all things cozy, she sleeps better at night, knowing her writing helps others sleep in comfort, too.