Age, gender and health conditions all come into play to help determine which position we sleep in. Older people tend to migrate to sleeping on their right hand side, even if they have always slept in a different position when younger. Children shift position twice as much as an adult aged 65+. Women are twice as likely as men to sleep in the fetal position. People with heart conditions sleep on their right hand side and no one knows exactly why that is – scientists can only hypothesise.
Most of us know that our sleep position has an effect on our spinal health. But did you know there is some research to suggest that it can affect dreams and personality too?
Which position do you sleep in? Scroll through to your sleep position and find out everything it says about you from health, to dreaming, to personality.
People who Sleep on their Back
Sleeping on your back is all around a pretty good sleep position for your health, but the dreams can be a bit dicey. Back sleeping is fairly uncommon. The National Sleep Foundation (Australia) report that only 8% of people are back sleepers.
Health Pros for Back Sleepers:
- The body is naturally aligned which is healthy for the spine.
- Weight is evenly distributed. This means reduced tossing and turning and a restful night
- Sleeping on the back is best for people with arthritis
- It can help reduce acne as the face is not squashed against a pillow
- It causes less wrinkles as the face is not squashed against a pillow
Health Cons for Back Sleepers:
- Snoring is much more common in this position as the tongue falls back and the back of the throat relaxes, which blocks airways.
- People with sleep apnea should not sleep on their backs for the above reasons
- Back pain and neck pain can be exacerbated
- It is not recommended during later pregnancy as it can reduce circulation and lower blood pressure
Back Sleepers and Dreaming
You may need to roll over if you suffer from nightmares as back sleepers are more likely to have them. Research suggests a link between back sleeping and sleep paralysis. This is the often terrifying state of being conscious during dreaming, yet being unable to speak or move. Back sleepers were less likely to remember their dreams in the morning. Maybe that’s a good thing.
Back Sleepers and Personality
Chris Idzikowski, BSc, PhD, CPsychol FBPsS, of the UK’s Sleep Assessment and Advisory Service conducted a study on sleeping position and personality.
The Soldier: This is sleeping on the back with arms by your side. People who sleep in this position hold themselves to a high standard, and they expect a lot from those around them too. They are quiet and reserved.
The Stargazer: This is sleeping on the back with arms wrapped around the pillow. These guys are nice! They have happy-go-lucky personalities, are positive and will go to great lengths to help out those they hold dear.
The Starfish: These people like to sleep spreadeagled, with arms and legs outstretched. (Otherwise known as bed hoggers). Funnily enough, starfish don’t like to be the centre of attention. They like to help loved ones, and will listen to all of your problems.
People who Sleep on their Side
If you do you’re fitting in with the crowd as this is by far the most popular sleeping position. It also has the most variations. Approximately 85% of people sleep on their side.
Side sleeping includes the fetal position. Which is simply sleeping on your side with your legs bent. Twice as many women as men sleep like this. 41% of people prefer the fetal position
As we age we are more likely to sleep on our sides. Older people and people with heart conditions tend to sleep on their right sides. Researchers believe this might be the body’s natural impulse to protect the heart.
Health Pros for Side Sleepers:
- It is the easiest position to keep the spine aligned
- Reduces the effects of snoring and sleep apnea
- Reduces back pain and neck pain
- May help the lymphatic system to flush out toxins and harmful proteins.
Health Pros of Sleeping on the Left Side:
- Reduces acid reflux
- May help digestion
- Suggested for pregnant women as it increases blood flow to the placenta
Health Pros of Sleeping on Right Side:
- May lower nervous system activity
- May protect the heart
Health Cons for Side Sleepers:
- The pressure of the pillow against the face makes it more likely for wrinkles to develop
- It can disrupt circulation in the arm
- Sleepers in this position shift more often and have a less restful sleep
Side Sleepers and Dreaming
Those who sleep on their right hand side tend to have fewer nightmares and more positive dreams than those who sleep on their left hand side.
Side Sleepers and personality
In general side sleepers are more relaxed and open to compromise.
Those who sleep on their right side are more likely to smoke and rely on caffeine.
Those who sleep on their left side are more likely to be creative and well educated.
Those who sleep in the fetal position are generally responsible and organised. They are deep thinkers. They tend to be reserved but warm hearted once they know someone well.
The Thinker sleeps in the fetal position with a hand resting on the chin.
These sleepers tend to feel everything and often switch moods from one strong emotion to another.
The log sleeps on the side with arms straight. These people are popular, carefree and kind, but a little too trusting and gullible.
The Yearner sleeps on their side with arms stretched out in front. These sleepers take an age to make a decision, as they trust no one involved. However they stick to their guns once the decision is finalised. They are open minded yet cynical, and curious about the world.
People who Sleep on their Stomach
Stomach sleeping has a bad reputation. Agreed, it’s not the best position for good health, but it’s not all bad. The dreams are good. Only 7% of people sleep in this position.
Health Pros for Stomach Sleepers:
- Reduces snoring and sleep apnea
Health Cons for Stomach Sleepers:
- The spine is not in the neutral position so it can cause neck and back strain and pain
- The body pressing down on its core increases pressure on muscles, joints and organs
- More time shifting positions makes for a restless nights sleep
- Increased risk of wrinkles due to the face being squashed against the pillow.
Stomach Sleepers and Dreaming
Stomach sleepers report being restrained and/or immobilized in dreams more often. However, they also report dreams which are more vivid and erotic.
Stomach Sleepers and Personality
Stomach sleepers tend to be perfectionists. They can be defensive and have a tendency to feel overwhelmed and out of control.
The freefaller sleeps on her stomach with her head turned to one side and arms wrapped around or under the pillow. Like a prickly pear, these people have a hard outer skin, but a soft and sweet centre. They radiate strength and cool confidence, yet lack the inner core to deal with criticism.