We all seem to have our own sleeping positions that we favor on most nights. Research done by Professor Chris Idzikowski, director of the UK Sleep Assessment and Advisory Service, showed that only 5% of people in his study said that they change sleep positions every night.
There are some well-known and obvious sleep positions – sleeping on your back, your side or your stomach. But there are variations of these basic positions that are less well-known.
Research has also shown that different sleep positions reflect our personalities and have different effects on our health. During sleep cycles, our brains are working to fix some of the problems we caused for ourselves during the day.
There are certainly many more sleep positions than five. There are as many as the different ways you can move while sleeping. But here are five that the sleep researchers have identified as being a little more common than the rest.
5 Different Sleeping Positions
Log sleepers lie on their sides with arms and hands straight down each side. Their legs and back are straight. Their cheeks rest against the pillows. So they look like “logs.”
This is a somewhat awkward position, and these sleepers often find it difficult to find exactly the right pillow that is soft and comfortable enough but also firm enough to fit the contour of their head and neck.
Personality studies show these people to be easy-going and sociable. They like being with people and socializing, and are very trusting.
The Log position is one version of side-sleeping which is very common in humans and in the animal kingdom. Research reported in the Huffington Post indicates that side-sleeping may be nature’s way of ridding ourselves of metabolic waste products that build up in our bodies during the day.
Metabolic waste includes amyloid and tau proteins that negatively affect our brain processes. This build-up can increase the chances of getting neurological diseases if not properly disposed of. Side-sleeping like the Log position can help with the cleansing process.
Another sleeping position, called the Soldier, is similar to the straight position of the Log, except that the Soldier sleeps on his or her back with arms straight down the sides and legs straight. The Soldier has problems in common with other back sleepers.
Legs on the wall
This is a very unusual sleeping position, and in fact doesn’t look like a sleep position at all. These sleepers lie on their back near a wall with the pillow placed under their bodies and their legs extended straight up against the wall.
The heels and knees are in the same straight line. The arms are placed beside the body with palms turned upwards.
While in this position, the person should breathe deeply and remain in this deep state of relaxation where dreaming is easy and beneficial. After 2-3 minutes, the person should bend their knees slowly and transfer them to one side.
This position increases blood flow and circulation and restores energy lost during the day. It’s great for people who are standing all day.
In the Starfish position, the person sleeps on his or her back with arms above the head instead of at the sides and legs spread out. The position is five-point starfish pattern.
The Starfish position can be bad for your back and can be difficult for those with snoring and other sleeping disorders. It is a position that can contribute to sleep apnea. It also puts pressure on the sciatic nerve – which can be alleviated to some degree by putting a small rolled towel or small pillow under the small of the back.
Personality research says Starfish sleepers make good friends because they are good listeners. It is interesting that many babies enjoy this position, and maybe we all started out this way.
Sleepers in the Yearner position have their heads slightly off the center of the pillow with arms outstretched along the pillow, often with one hand under the pillow. Their backs are straight with legs slightly bent.
These sleepers many problems similar to Log sleepers in finding the right pillow that will support both head and neck when the head is not centered on the pillow.
Research on the personality of Yearners shows that they are open in nature but can be cynical and slow to make up their minds..
A Freefall sleeper lies on his stomach with his hands wrapped around the pillow and his head turned to the side. The problem with this position is that sleeping on your stomach can accentuate the curve or arch at the base of the spine. This adds strain on the back.
With the added emphasis on pillow attention, it may be difficult to find just the right one that combines softness, firmness and flexibility.
Freefall sleepers are said to be gregarious and brash people, but they can be sensitive to criticism and can be thin-skinned.
Other Sleeping Positions
Blogs are full of posts, reposts and comments from readers with expressions of a variety of sleeping positions. They come in all forms, and some are downright hilarious. Young children fall asleep in almost any position.
People fall asleep in planes, on buses, and on trains. They can be in sitting or leaning positions. Falling asleep on someone else’s shoulder is not uncommon.
The more well-known positions include the Fetal position which mirrors a fetus in the womb. In one research study by Men’s Health magazine, 41% of respondents said they favored this position. The benefits to this position include reducing stress on organs of stomach, liver and lungs.
Also called the “Thinker” position, the fetal position can help relieve conditions like osteoarthritis in the spine and spinal stenosis.
The personality type tied to this position is one of toughness on the outside and sensitivity on the inside.
As for all those other people and their responses, sleep positions and patterns seem to be endless. Some people sleep with one leg straight and the other with one foot touching one knee. Some people sleep while hanging off a bed. And sometimes you need some sleep and snoring help that doesn’t involve different sleeping positions.
So whatever way you sleep, and whatever works for you, hopefully you will get the rest you need to cleanse your brain and energize your body to maintain a healthy lifestyle.