What Your Sleeping Style Says About You

Experts say how we sleep and how much we sleep affects mood and health.

From the WebMD Archives

Each night, Trixie, my miniature schnauzer, sleeps on her back, with her head cocked sideways and her front paws raised in the air as if she is in the middle of doing the wave. Nestled between my husband and me on a king-sized bed, Trixie's pink stomach is stretched out for anyone to see and perhaps rub (if I had to guess).

A fellow dog lover and amateur trainer once told me that this nocturnal position means that Trixie is an extremely trusting dog and feels loved.

Turns out, a similar philosophy also holds for humans. Research suggests that exactly how we sleep (position-wise) and how long we sleep can provide clues to our personalities and mental and physical status.

A study analyzing six common sleeping positions, including the fetal position and the "log" (lying on your side with both arms parallel to your torso and legs), found that each position is actually linked to a particular personality type.

For example, if you curl up in the fetal position when you sleep, you may be tough on the outside and soft on the inside. According to the research, this was the most common sleeping position; 41% of the 1,000 people in the study slept in the fetal position. More than twice as many women as men tend to adopt this position, according to sleep specialist Chris Idzikowski, PhD, a director of the Sleep Assessment and Advisory Service in London and the author of several books on sleep including Learn to Sleep Well.

Idzikowski's more recent research is again focusing on preferred positions and is cross-cultural to see if these initial findings hold. "The original United Kingdom data is compared with data collected from Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, China, and Singapore," he says. "The cross-cultural work has raised more questions."

One thing is clear, however. "If you sleep in a bad position, you're more likely to be grumpy the next day," he says.

According to his initial data, if you sleep like a log, at least positionally, you are typically easy going, sociable, and want to run with the A-list crowd. As a result, however, you may be gullible. People who sleep on their side with both arms out in front can be suspicious and cynical.

And if you know anyone who sleeps on their back with both arms up around the pillow (a.k.a. the "starfish"), you are in luck because such sleepers make good friends. They are always ready to listen and offer help.