Dr Neil Stanley Independent Sleep Expert
© Dr. Neil Stanley 2013-2019
What does your sleeping position tell you about your personality or relationship? Well in simple language, nothing at all. There are a huge number of articles on the web concerning sleep position and personality/relationships but they all quote one or more of the following ‘studies’, all of which, as you will see, have no scientific validity. Samuel Dunkell (1977) wrote a book called “Sleep positions: the night language of the body”. He was a psychiatrist who simply interviewed some of his patients. Often there was only one patient saying they slept in a particular position so really not particularly valid data. Remember these people were psychiatric patients and so perhaps not representative of the general population. Chris Idzikowski (2003) produced a survey for a PR company claiming a link between position and personality but a second survey that he did in SE Asia showed no link at all between sleep position and personality. Robert Phipps (2012) produced a PR exercise for Premier Inn Hotels that actually contained no research of any sort. Richard Wiseman (2014) had a book to promote and again the ‘data’ was from a survey. He also made claims concerning proximity during the night and strength of relationship saying the closer you slept to someone the better your relationship. It is important to note that none of these studies have ever been published in the scientific literature. Remember just because lazy journalists regurgitate a press release does not make it science; no matter how many do it or how often it is quoted. None of the examples above were conducted in random cohort of people representative of the general population and so lack any validity. The science is that you simply fall asleep in the most comfortable position for you, move numerous times in the night into other positions which, if you do not awake, you have no knowledge of and then wake up in either the same position you fell asleep in or an entirely different one. People have been shown to sleep in up to 12 different positions during the night does that therefore mean that they have 12 different personalities? If you sleep in a standard UK double bed you in fact have 9 inches less space to sleep in than your child so in this situation you don’t choose to sleep close to each other you are forced to do so, perhaps to have to have a pretty strong relationship to put up with such cramped conditions. We know from scientific studies that just one nights poor sleep for one partner is associated with increased relationship conflict the next day and that the worse couples sleep, the less empathy they show towards their partner and the more negative feelings they have towards each other, so it is quality of sleep that is important for the quality of a relationship not the physical proximity in the bed. Next time you read an article about sleep positions remember to take it with a very large ‘pinch of salt’, unless of course it has a reference to a scientific publication.