Couple Sleep Positions Meaning Explained

by sleep wellness

Why it’s a tell-tale

Most of our communication is actually based on non-verbal gestures. Body language is something we are familiar with in everyday life, but it doesn’t stop when we fall asleep.

The position of our body while sleeping can tell a lot about person’s character and emotional state. In terms of love, the way we sleep with our partner can indicate the state of our relationship.

Subconsciously, we choose the position in which we are sleeping. Since we can’t control it, it can be a great way to shed a light on feelings that may not be spoken while we are awake.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common positions couples sleep in  and their meaning.

couple sleep positions pictogram

1. Tangled, honeymoon hug

We’re starting with the one that is very rare, because it’s not really comfortable to stay in this position all through the night. It usually happens when the emotions are running high (typically after sex or at the beginning of relationship), when partners want to be physically close to each other as much as possible.

If this is a regular sleeping position for a couple, or if you spend all night in a tight knot, it can indicate a lack of independence in relationship.

couple snuggling

2. The unraveling knot

It starts like honeymoon hug, but later partners untangle. This is actually a good thing, it shows that love and intimacy are definitely there, but independence is present as well.

It usually happens (although not often) when couple has been together for a while.

couple sleep intertwined

3. Spooning

We are all familiar with this one. Spooning indicates intimacy, trust and closeness in relationship. Although there is a lot of physical contact in this position and it’s very sensual, the erotic vibe of it is not as important as the feeling of comfort that it provides.

Person who takes the role of “big spoon” feels protective of his partner and this way he/she is trying to create a safe zone for a loved one. You can read more about the tell-tales of spooning here.

couple sleeping in spoon position

4. Loose spoon

This is a more popular variation of classic spooning. Couples who like to sleep in spoon position will choose this one after some time, simply because it’s more comfortable.

On the psychological level, this doesn’t mean something’s wrong between the two of you, it actually shows you trust each other and are comfortable to have some space between you, in bed and in life.

5. The Chase

It looks like spooning, but in this position one partner has turned back and moved away to the side of the bed, and the other one is playing the role of “chaser”.

There are two ways to interpret this: this person needs more space in bed, or wants to be pursued by his partner.

couple chase sleep position

6. Head on chest aka. the nuzzle

At the start of relationship or when the passions are rekindled, couples will sleep in this snuggling position. Partner who rests hand or head on the chest of other, shows healthy independence in relationship, but is still willing to be dependent on their partner.

Usually this partner will place their leg on the body of the other, or they’ll intertwine legs.

A person who sleeps on back and hugs his partner is confident and offers protection. This position is open and is saying that partners are companions who trust each other.

head on chest sleep position couple

7. The Shingles

When both partners sleep on their back, but one is placing their head on the other’s shoulder, it shows confidence and understanding in relationship.

8. The leg hug

This position can be interpreted in few ways. If just one partner is “hugging” it can mean that he/she needs attention from the other. If both of partners participate in this “hug” that’s a sign of balanced and comfortable relationship.

In casual relationships, this often can be confusing, since some people don’t show their affection openly, so this can be either just a random contact or a “call” for closeness.

9. Back to back – touching

If you sleep back to back, but the butts are touching, don’t worry, you’re good. This is very popular sleep position, especially among established couples.

Each partner has its space, but there is a contact which speaks about closeness and sexual connection.

feet of couple back to back sleeping position

10. Back to back- not touching

If you and your partner usually hug when sleeping, this could be a red flag. With all that space between the two of you maybe it’s time for a conversation.

On the other hand, maybe you cuddle in bed, but it’s just too warm to sleep skin on skin. Some couples don’t need much contact during the night, just a good rest, and there’s nothing wrong in their relationship.

Keep in mind that if you toss and turn a lot throughout the night, its natural if other person wants to keep more space between the two of you. This posistion doesn’t indicate you have an underlying problem in relationship, instead it says you have bad sleeping manners.

couple sleep back to back position

11. Face to face – touching

If your heads are at the same level and touching, and your arms are tangled, this speaks about closeness, like-mindedness and general good atmosphere in relationship.

couple sleeping face to face noses touching

12. Face to face – not touching

This can be a sign of high emotional demands from both sides. Both partners are craving attention and intimacy, and both are doing nothing about it.

You should listen to one another and talk about your feelings.

13. Sleeping on your stomach

When we sleep on our stomach we hide the front of our body, and that may be a sign of vulnerability, lack of sexual trust and anxiety.

You should speak with your partner and if he is the one sleeping this way, use hugs to make them feel protected.

14. One partner dominates the bed

This is a classic case of power play. If one partner sleeps in a starfish position, and even pushes the other to the side of the mattress, it’s a cause for concern and honest conversation.

This selfish position tells which partner is dominant in relationship. Also, take a look if your heads are at the same level.

Partner whose head is closer to headboard is usually the one who feels like he is in control and has more confidence, while the partner whose head is positioned lower plays a submissive role and probably has a lack of confidence.

boyfriend sleeping in freefall position

Caveats of judging a relationship based on sleep positions

We’re torn here a bit here because we don’t want to ruin any relationships. So, don’t run to your partner and tell them, “You don’t love me anymore because you’re sleeping on your stomach.”

We “hate” articles that offer extensive analysis of something and end with “it all depends” as much as anybody.

On the other hand, what we talked about is rooted in relationship and sleep pshychology.

To put it all into perspective, imagine this scenario – your partner used to be a fan of spooning but she/he is now sleeping with his back towards you. It might be because the dynamics of the relationship has changed but it also might be as simple as the person having an acid reflux problem and the new sleep position relieves it (you can see our guide on common sleep positions here).

Bottom line – don’t skip to conclusions

Finally, feel free to share your experiences or questions – one of our team members, Ivan, is a sleep therapist with a degree in psychology.

So, we can probably offer answers on the topic for 9 out of 10 questions.


  • Bob Ozment

    Bob has been testing and writing about all things sleep (and especially blankets, air mattresses and folding beds), for 8+ years now. before that, he worked as a Quality Assurance Manager with one of the bigger names in the sleep industry. He holds a masters degree Statistics, Actuarial & Data Sciences from the central Michigan University at Mount Pleasant. He's one of the people who designs our producing testing and statistical models. He’s a stomach sleeper, but nobody’s perfect.