SWEET DREAMS: The seductive spoon position is common for partners in the early stages of their relationship, and can indicate how they relate when awake. Picture: THINKSTOCK
SWEET DREAMS: The seductive spoon position is common for partners in the early stages of their relationship, and can indicate how they relate when awake. Picture: THINKSTOCK

THE position you choose to take up in bed each night can echo the way you deal with your daytime waking hours, say sleep scientists. These chronic sleep positions can affect your sleep positively or negatively, writes Janet Kinosian

Hollywood star Zsa Zsa Gabor once said: "When I am alone, I can sleep crossway in a bed without an argument."

You may not be aware of what position you regularly take up in bed, when you drop off to sleep. US sleep researcher Dr Samuel Dunkell says the position you choose in bed each night often echoes the way you deal with your daytime waking hours.

Invariably, you "sleep as you live", he says, and your chronic sleep positions affect your sleep both positively and negatively.

Of course it’s a private matter — your choice of sleep position. However, it gives insight not only into sleep patterns, sleep history, and sleep difficulties, but also personality traits, and those of your sleep partner’s.

And yes, the experts say that your sleep positions can even delve into hidden subconscious secrets buried in your relationships.

So tonight, when you climb into bed, pay attention and observe what position you spontaneously assume to make yourself feel most comfortable at the moment when you are about to fall asleep. Make sure it’s not when you first get into bed, but when you’re ready to fall asleep. People often shift position at this juncture to move into their "preferred sleep position".

What is your preferred sleep position, and has it changed over the years? Has it had an effect on your sleep efficiency, or is it causing discomfort or pain?

Much like a penned signature, your sleep position is your private sleep scrawl, and there is no real reason to alter it, as it reflects your personality traits.

However, if your sleep position affects your physical self, in other words, if you sleep on your stomach and wake up with a chronic pain in the neck, it might very well be time to learn to alter your preferred sleep position.

Here are four basic individual sleep positions:

1. In the prone position, the sleeper lies face down on the stomach, with arms extended and bent, usually framed above the head. People who regularly sleep in the prone position (both Madonna and I are in this category) tend to have strong compulsive tendencies and stubbornness in their personalities, and are persistent and goal-oriented.

2. The royal position is the opposite of the prone. The royal sleeper lies supine, fully on the back, with arms slightly akimbo at the sides. It is an open, vulnerable and expansive position; these people display self-confidence and self-involvement. Entrepreneurs and workaholic businessmen often prefer this position.

3. The most common position, the semi-foetal, has sleepers lying on their sides with knees slightly bent, one arm outstretched above the head, the other resting comfortably on the opposing upper arm to cradle the head. They are conciliatory, compromising, non-threatening, non-shakers; sleep experts claim this to be the optimal sleep posture position.

4. The full-foetal is the characteristic "womb position". Sleepers lie curled on their sides, with knees pulled all the way up, heads bent forward. Usually a pillow or blanket mass is centred at the stomach. These people are highly emotional, sensitive, artistic, and have intense one-on-one relationships.

Couples’ sleep positions are equally telling, with the seductive spoon position shown to be the most common for partners in the first three to five years together.

Here, both partners lie on the same side of the bed, facing the same direction, one behind the other, like a set of spoons curved in the night, hence the name.

The bridge position has the domineering partner placing a leg over the body of the sleeping partner, using the royal position.

The freeze manoeuvre, each with their back to the other, pulled over to separate sides of the bed, shows anger and distance.

The umbilicus position is a sort of separated spoon with one partner reaching over to lay hands on the other for security.

If children and animals share the bed, the mix can get quite interesting indeed.

Relationship experts claim that the position is not as telling as a change in the position, so be on the look-out for when and how this change occurs.

Of course, none of this is rocket sleep-science, and you can probably just as easily invent your own names for position. A friend says he sleeps with his partner in the George Jeston position, with a dog, Astro, stretched out between them.

All you really need to keep in mind at this stage, is that when you make your final shift to fall into slumber, your personality is rarely hidden. Featurewell.com

Secrets to more restful shut-eye

Making the time to take care of your body and mind, and fulfil all your needs, is just as important during your sleeping hours, as it is when you are wide awake.

Both times become increasingly more difficult with the pressures and stresses of the demands of 21st century living and working, and the increasing number of distractions around you.

US sleep specialists Dr Ana Krieger and Dr Gail Saltz presented 10 key tips on how to sleep better, and stress less, at the 30th Annual Women’s Health Symposium held in New York recently:

1. Love the lovemaking

Sex is a good form of exercise that enhances bonding with your partner, releases feel-good hormones, and improves sleep.

2. Sex alleviates stress

Sexual problems can contribute to stress. However, a healthy sex life, with regular bouts between the sheets, can go a long way to helping to alleviate stress.

3. Make "me" time.

It’s not about being selfish. You need to carve out time to wind down for a few minutes before you embark on a journey into the Land of Nod.

4. No work allowed

Use the bedroom for sleeping and sex, not work. So preferably don’t read proposals, meeting minutes or anything that is work related before going to sleep.

5. Turn off the technology

Before bedtime and during sleep, avoid light exposure, even from electronic devices. Preferably don’t have a TV, computer, laptop or tablet in your bedroom. These are all stimulating, and not in a good way.

6. Learn the real secret to sleep

The key elements of an adequate night’s sleep include timing, duration and quality.

7. Seven hours or bust

This is a case where more is better. Few people can actually function optimally with six or fewer hours of sleep.

8. Get cozy

Create a warm bedroom environment, one with a comfortable room temperature, that will be somewhere between 18° to 21°.

9. Keep a routine

Establish a night routine and get up at the same time every day

10. Manage anxiety and worry levels

Consider doing some relaxation training, and learning better time management and problem solving techniques.

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