15 Couples’ Sleeping Positions
and What They Mean
The way someone sleeps can say a lot about them as a person. However, what happens when you add a second person to the mattress?
As we drift off into deep sleep, our subconscious takes over. The way our bodies respond to our partners can provide insight into our relationships. Whether you enjoy being tangled up with your significant other or prefer to keep your personal space, your preferred sleep position can help gauge the state of your relationship beyond what happens while you’re conscious.
Here, we cover 15 couples’ sleeping positions and what they mean. We also surveyed over 1,000 people to see what positions are preferred most when people share a bed with their partners. Things are about to get personal.
A classic position, spooning is when one partner takes a protective, intimate stance behind the other as the second person leans their back or behind against them. It’s a skin-on-skin position that provides plenty of emotional and physical comfort. If you like this position, chances are you’re either in a brand new relationship or that the two of you can’t get enough of each other.
As the big spoon, you are the one forming a protective embrace behind your partner. If you prefer to be the big spoon, you are most likely a very giving partner and want to comfort your significant other.
As the little spoon, you like the feeling of being safe and protected by your partner. In terms of your relationship, you might also need some extra TLC and nurturing.
2. Chasing Spoon
This is a variation of the spooning position. Rather than the two of you spooning tightly in the center, “chase spooning” occurs where one person shifts to one side of the bed and their partner follows, or “chases” them. The partner being chased usually prefers a log or fetal position to sleep, while the “chaser” sleeps in a yearner position.
This could mean one of two things. Either the partner being chased likes to play hard to get, or they are retreating and want more space from their “chaser”. This might also be a sign that their needs aren’t being met. The “chaser” could also be wanting more attention from their partner.
3. Loose Spoon
Whereas partners in new relationships tend to favor spooning, couples who have dated for a longer amount of time often don’t need the novelty of constant body-to-body contact. “Loose spooning” sees both individuals moving to a more spaced out position for better quality sleep. You both have been together long enough to feel a strong level of trust without needing the reassurance of constant touch.
If you’re the big spoon, this position essentially means that you can be counted on at any time, but you know that you and your little spoon like the extra comfort that comes with giving each other a little space.
4. Back to Back
Those who fall asleep with contact along the spine show a balance of closeness and independence. If your bottoms touch — also called “moon landing,” it means you both want to stay sexually connected while still feeling comfortable facing away from each other. If you prefer this position, chances are you very comfortable and relaxed with each other. The two of you might have also fought recently, but your willingness to touch means the relationship is still okay.
5. Front to Front
A slight variation on being fully intertwined, front-to-front has both partners facing each other. with their heads at the same level. They may also be slightly touching, with their arms draped across each other. This intimate position communicates that the two individuals are like-minded and there is a good overall atmosphere in the relationship.
6. Sweetheart Cradle
This sweet, nurturing posture has one partner resting their head on the other partner’s chest, with their legs intertwined as they hold each other close. A couple who prefers this sleep position has a high level of trust and teamwork between them. This snuggling position shows protection and romance and is favored by many new couples or those who have rekindled their romance.
7. Head on Other’s Shoulder
Also known as the “shingles” position, this position has both partners sleeping on their backs, with one partner resting his or her head on the other’s shoulder. It shows a high level of comradeship, where one partner allows the other to play “protector” and nurture them. This position indicates understanding and confidence in the relationship.
8. Leg Hug
If one person has a leg or feet touching their partner, it could mean that the person is craving a sexual or emotional connection. A pair of tangled legs shows that your lives are intertwined and that you exist as a unit.
Being fully intertwined with a lover is an incredibly close and romantic position. This position is popular among new couples, and can sometimes be a transitory pose before or after a couple has intimacy.
If you and your partner just started dating, this position screams young love between the two of you. Some couples maintain this throughout their relationship, but this can potentially signify that these two individuals are dependent on each other.
10. Unraveling Tangle
This position starts with the two partners tangled up together before unraveling to a more comfortable sleep position after several minutes or so. It allows the couple the best of both worlds and shows a balance of intimacy and independence between the two individuals.
11. Both on Stomach
A couple that sleeps on their stomachs could be struggling with angst and fear in the relationship. If the two are not touching at all, it could further indicate anxiety or lack of sexual trust. If you and your partner are falling asleep in this position, it might be a good time for you two to have a sit-down to talk about your relationship.
12. Space Hog
This position has one partner assuming the “starfish”, where he or she is sprawled out and taking up the majority of the mattress space while their partner takes a secondary role. If the starfish partner begins to push their partner off, it is an indicator that they are selfish in the relationship.
In addition, if one partner both takes up space and places themselves higher than the other, they tend to see themselves as more dominant and confident. It may be good for the couple to have a frank conversation about the power dynamic in their relationship.
13. No Contact, Back to Back
Not touching each other isn’t a bad thing by any means —in fact, a couple’s willingness to sleep apart is a sign of strong independence.
Couples who sleep back-to-back but are not touching are usually both connected and self-sufficient. Also known as “liberty lovers”, this sleep position shows a strong level of security. However, if the two of you are sleeping on opposite ends, it may instead indicate your desire to be more separate. This could also be a sign you should upgrade to a larger mattress size.
14. No Contact, Front to Front
If the two of you are facing each other while sleeping but don’t touch, this may signify that you need something more in your relationship. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as you can take some positive steps to bridge the gap.
15. Pet Barrier
Sharing a bed with your dog or cat is becoming increasingly common these days. For some couples, placing a pet in between them can serve as a way to get some extra space at night as well as reinforce the strong bond between you and your pet. However, it might also mean that the two of you are avoiding something in your relationship. Perhaps you may want to consider talking with your partner or consider getting a separate dog bed.
How Americans Prefer to Sleep Survey Results
Now that we have covered the different variations of partnered sleep positions, which one do most couples prefer? To find out, we ran a Google survey of 1,000 Americans on how they prefer to sleep with their significant other.
According to our survey, 46% of American couples prefer to sleep without touching each other. This suggests that either many couples feel comfortable in their relationship or that they prioritize comfort and sleep quality over touch. “No contact” was favored almost equally between men and women, but less favored by younger couples aged 18 to 24 compared to other age groups.
Spooning is the next preferred sleep position among couples. While the spooning dynamic between couples reflected usual conventions, a significant 30% of women prefer to be the “big spoon” and 24% of men prefer to be the “little spoon”.
Couples who sleep back to back were the next largest group in our survey. This position was favored by older couples —those who are over 25 years of age are at least twice as likely to sleep back to back than those who are less than 25 years of age. Finally, when it comes to sleeping intertwined, we found that men were 13% more likely than women to prefer this position.
Since body language is often informed by the subconscious, a couple’s sleep position can serve as a reflection of their conscious selves. However, the way you and your partner sleep certainly won’t make or break your relationship. Rather, you should use this guide as a way to help you communicate your sleeping preferences to your partner.
If you and your significant other are looking for the most comfortable sleep, a queen mattress might just be the ideal couples’ mattress. For those who want more space to add more love, a king mattress is ideal for sleeping with a child or a pet.
The statistics on preferred couple sleep positions came from a survey facilitated by Google Surveys. The sample consisted of 1,000 Americans and was conducted during May 2019. Post-stratification weighting was employed in order to attain a sample that is representative of the population.