How your couple’s sleep position could be affecting your health

couple’s sleep position

When it comes to sleep, there are ample benefits to sharing a bed with your partner – from attentiveness and late-night talks to helping to stay warm in the colder months. But what does the position that you and your partner sleep in night after night have on your overall health?

The posture we hold during sleep is sustained for several hours, meaning the result of an awkward position or placing too much weight on one area, can have a lasting impact on the spine, neck and back. The key to a healthy sleep position is maintaining a neutral spine – if your spine is not aligned and relaxed, you will be putting strain or weight on different parts of your back.

Here, Alison Jones, sleep expert at leading mattress brand Sealy, provides intel on the nation’s favoured shared sleep positions and exactly how they impact your spinal alignment during rest.

  1. Hugging from behind

Otherwise known as the ‘spooning position’, this classic sleep position involves both partners sleeping on their sides, with one hugging the other from behind with their arms wrapped around them. 

Despite the cliché connotations, this way of sleeping is not to be sniffed at. Sleeping on your side is moderately supportive and good for breathing as it doesn’t obstruct your airways as much as others – meaning great news for snorers. Whilst great in the winter months, some can find this position a little warm in hotter climates due to the amount of physical contact.

If you find you’re a warm sleeper, a way around this is to invest in a mattress with cooling technology to regulate your core temperature during sleep. Look for mattresses with Geltex, a unique cooling material, that allows air to move throughout the body of the mattress and avoids overheating during the night.

Top tip – to help with correct spinal alignment whilst you sleep, try placing a firm pillow between your knees, which will help with overall posture over time.

  1. Back-to-back

The back-to-back position (also known as ‘moon landing’) involves sleeping on your side, often with your backs touching. Overall, this position is a good way to support your body, relieving pressure on your internal organs and muscles.

This is a relaxing position to fall asleep in, it prioritises sleep over affection and allows each individual to have their own space to adjust and re-position as they wish throughout the night.

  1. Sweetheart cradle

This position goes by many different names and involves one person sleeping on their side with their head on their partner’s chest. Whilst this provides intimate contact, which some say is good for the release of oxytocin (the love hormone), it isn’t the best position for spinal alignment as each person has pressure applied to their either their body or neck. Whilst it may feel cosy at first, it is not advised to hold the sweetheart cradle for long, as it will result in neck pain or numbness in your arms and over time, may cause more permanent back problems.

  1. Face to face

Those who sleep face to face whilst touching are typically incredibly close and not phased by intimate contact. Its benefits are closely aligned with the back-to-back position, providing each person has enough space to move their limbs freely if they need to through the night.

However, people that value their own sleep space might not favour this position as it means direct contact (and sometimes deep breathing) in your face all night. A solution to this may be to adopt the position in the lead up to sleep, but move into something more comfortable as you start to drift off.

If your partner values their own space, and their tossing and turning disrupts your sleep, it might be worth investing in a mattress that has this in mind. Sealy’s mattresses come with UniCased® XT which removes the feeling of ‘rolling off the mattress’ and prevents deformation and lateral movement across your mattress. 

  1. Intertwined

This sleep position involves partners lying with their heads at the same level, facing each other, with legs overlapping each other in a locked embrace. A favourable cuddle position, if sleeping in this position couples should be careful to give the legs enough room to move freely if they need during sleep. Whilst the top half of the body may feel supported, having legs raised or locked into a set position, may mean the spine isn’t in a neutral position – meaning you’re less likely to feel fully rested when you wake up.

A top tip to help with this is to use a soft pillow that keeps your head as low to the mattress to ensure the neck is as flat as possible, and invest in a medium to firm mattress. The Sealy Posturepedic mattress is a good option, with its unique AlignSupport ® coil which responds to you and your partners body positions throughout the night, providing ultimate support.

  1. Starfish

Alone, this is a great solution for sleep quality and impact on the body, giving you the space your body needs to truly relax resulting in waking up feeling rested and refreshed. However, when star-fished alongside someone else, you may not have enough free space to move your arms and legs freely throughout the night.

Sleeping on your back is great for back pain and is considered one of the best ways to support your spine, helping to alleviate aches, pains and even wrinkles, as face to pillow contact is minimal. If you or your partner has a tendency to snore, this might be one to avoid, as your arms tend to be spread wide and airways are open.

Ultimately, whichever sleep position you and your partner find yourselves in, the most important thing is that you sleep deeply. Your mattress of choice plays a crucial part in this and is not something that should not be overlooked. Sealy’s Posturepedic range is a great place to start. Designed specifically with comfort, support and durability in mind – the objective is to maintain the same performance no matter the sleeper, without any sagging.

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