WHAT’S YOUR SLEEP PERSONALITY?
Whether it’s on our side, back or even starfishing, the waywe sleep says a lot about our character and our health, discovers Christine Fieldhouse
We all have our own favourite sleeping position. Some of us love to curl up in a compact ball and snooze until dawn, while others spread out, arms and legs wide, taking up the whole bed. One person may cuddle their pillow, while their partner might sleep on their front, as if they’ve been dropped from a great height.
Whichever way we sleep, we usually find the right position for us by trial and error over the years, and once we know what works, we tend to stick to it – unless something major happens in our lives.
According to experts, the way we lie when we hit the hay is about more than just sleeping. Our chosen position could have some health benefits and also says a lot about our personality and the way we operate.
“To sleep well, you need to feel safe,” says Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, author of Tired but Wired: How to Overcome Sleep Problems.
“Many people go back to the first time they felt safe, when they were in the womb, and sleep in the fetal position, curled up with their knees up, but others may find other positions are better for their needs.”
Lying on your side, knees up and hands holding your head or knees. Dr Irshaad Ebrahim, consultant neuropsychiatrist, who is opening The Dubai Sleep Centre in September, (www.dubaisleepcentre.com) says: “The complete fetal position with knees curled up might restrict breathing, but the adapted version, with legs slightly bent, doesn’t put any pressure on the heart. Because our muscles are relaxed, this position allows us to transition from one sleep state to the next.”
Fetal sleepers tend to be self-reliant because they have an issue with trusting other people, says body language expert Becki Houlston (www.beckihoulston.com).
“They often feel fearful about life so they curl up into a ball to make themselves feel protected.
“It’s not that they’re weak or feeble; they just want to find solutions on their own because they know they can trust themselves.”
TIP: Break free from your comfort zone
“Question your boundaries and take up a new challenge such as martial arts or yoga – anything that stretches both your mind and body at the same time,” advises Becki.
Lying on your right side with your arms by your side. “Sleeping on your right side is highly recommended. It’s considered to be excellent for cardiovascular health as it aids breathing,” says Dr Ebrahim. Though some researchers think lying on your side might lead to an increased rate of ageing.
The log sleeper has a controlled mind and thinks in a linear way, says Becki.
“This person feels safest when they know where they are going and what they are doing,” she explains.
“They think in a logical way and follow orders well. Although they make excellent employees, they are in danger of becoming a little too robotic. They also obsess about the finer details of their lives, like the five minutes they were kept waiting to order in a restaurant.”
TIP: Choose to be happy rather than right
“Relax about the non-essential things in life, even when they threaten your sense of order,” says Becki. “Ask yourself if the little things that are bothering you, like your teenagers not putting their clothes away, will matter in a few months’ time.”
Lying on your side, with your arms stretched out. “This is a good position for spinal health,” says Dr Ebrahim. “The spine is supported naturally and the strain on the back of the neck is reduced. It encourages better airflow so it is excellent for anyone who suffers from sleep apnoea, which is a condition that causes people to stop breathing several times through the night.”
“This person is a daydreamer and intuitive,” says Becki. “If the Yearner
‘A few drops of lavender, eucalyptus or rose oil on your pillow can help, along with yoga or Pilates’
daydreams and then takes action, they could be formidable, but they are equally capable of frittering away hours and hours by just staring into space or waiting for a brilliant idea to pop into their head as if by magic.
“They’re quite self-protective and they don’t fall in love easily, but when they do, it’s usually for keeps.”
TIP: Take action
“Instead of waiting for inspiration, try to think more strategically and ask yourself what action you could take to solve a problem,” says Becki. “Check the action feels right, give yourself a timeline and get moving!”
Lying on your back, with your arms by your side.
“This is the ultimate acceptance position in yoga,” says Dr Ramlakhan. “It’s a good position to try before you go to sleep, either as a pre-bedtime yoga routine to calm the nervous system, or once you are in bed.”
“The Soldier sleeper is enthusiastic yet easily influenced both by their own emotions and other people,” says Becki. “They are very comfortable within their own skin and they can do very well if they surround themselves with inspirational people, but they also get enthusiastic about negative influences, which can get them into a lot of trouble. They’re the type of people who sign up for a trek to the Antarctic on a whim, but they’re also just as likely to start smoking again if someone offers them a cigarette.”
TIP: Choose your friends carefully
“Get a firm idea of who you want to be and surround yourself with people you respect, rather than those with bad habits,” says Becki.
Lying on your front.
“These sleepers often have their faces in a pillow,” says Dr Ebrahim,
“which isn’t recommended for good breathing. But if they can tilt their head slightly to one side, it can be a beneficial position for them.
“Some people think this position will aid digestion, and many people sleep on their front to avoid sleep apnoea, which can cause daytime sleepiness, high blood pressure and diabetes.”
The Freefaller is both passionate and erratic, says Becki.
“This person is prone to tantrums, and sleeps with their head in the pillow to try and ground themselves and protect themselves from their driving emotions.
“If they’re having a tough time, you’ll know about it! They can be thrill-seekers – erratic and exciting at the same time – but when things go wrong, they often blame others and lose sight of the bigger picture.”
TIP: Learn from your mistakes
“If something doesn’t go to plan, before you blame anyone else, stop and examine what you could have done differently for a better outcome,” suggests Becki. “Think about what lesson you might learn from your experience.”
Lying flat on your back, with your arms above your head and legs stretched out. “This position will increase sleep apnoea and may cause acid reflux, where stomach acid refluxes and burns the lining of the oesophagus,” says Dr Ebrahim.
“It isn’t good for posture because your back will be slightly arched. However, because you are stretched out, it might make your muscles slightly more toned.”
“The Starfish sleeper is open and trusting,” says Becki. “This person is comfortable with vulnerability but they sometimes act without thinking of the consequences. They don’t realise their bad habits, such as a lack of organisation, might infuriate other people and because they’re so open, others take advantage of them.”
TIP: Learn to say no
“Because Starfish sleepers are pleasers, they often take on too much and spend their lives running around after other people,” says Becki. “Learning to say no would free them from some commitments and give them more time for their own interests and goals.”