The Ultimate Visual Guide to Sleeping Positions for Couples

7 Min Read | By Brett Janes

Last Modified 15 September 2023   First Added 5 February 2016

This article was written and reviewed in line with our editorial policy.

Sleeping positions, for couples, can say a lot about the state of their relationship. Whether you share your bed in perfect harmony or one of you is relegated to the guest room sofa bed, there’s a deeper meaning in the way we share our sleep.

The positions you sleep in at night can provide fantastic insight into the type of relationship you’re in, and UK psychologists have often gone out of their way to prove that. Below are some of the most popular sleeping positions for couples in the UK, and what those positions might say about the two of you.

The Ultimate Guide to Sleeping Positions for Couples, from The Sleep Matters Club.

Guide to Sleeping As A Couple

In our 2022 Sleep Survey, 81% of respondents said they had shared a bed or currently do share a bed with someone. The majority of us understand how much of a struggle it can be to get comfortable with someone else in our space.

According to psychologists, how we sleep says a great deal about the state of our relationships. In fact, studies have shown that:94% of couples who spend the night in contact with each other are happy with their relationship

10% of couples sleep apart from one another to get a good night’s sleep

25% of couples argue in bed because they’re kept awake by their partners

The Most Common Sleeping Positions For Couples And What They Say

According to sleep expert, Corinne Sweet and the Travelodge sleep study, these are the most popular sleeping positions for couples and what they say about your relationship:

Liberty (28%)

The most common position is back-to-back without touching. These couples are connected and secure in themselves. Sleeping in this position shows both closeness and independence.

Cherish (18%)

This is when you sleep back-to-back but touching. This position shows a couple is relaxed and comfortable with each other – common in new relationships.

Pillow Talk (7%)

This sleep position is face-to-face but not touching. Sleeping like this shows a need for intimacy and close communication between a couple.

Lovers’ Knot (8%)

This is face-to-face, legs intertwined for 10 minutes then the couple separates to sleep. It shows a compromise between intimacy and independence, allowing for the best of both worlds.

Spooning (18%)

The traditional couple’s sleeping position: front to back touching. It can mean one person takes a more protective role in the relationship.

The Romantic (1%)

The least popular position is one partner lying with their head and arm on the other’s chest. This sleep position is common in new relationships, or after sex, this pose represents vibrant or rekindled love.

The Lovers (4%)

This is an intimate position where you are face-to-face with your legs intertwined all night. Seen as highly romantic, this position also shows a lack of independence from each other.

Superhero (2%)

Lastly is lying in a starfish position with the other partner hanging off the bed. In this position, one partner dominates the bed, while the other takes a secondary role.

Leg between the sheets

Which position is best?

When it comes to sleep position, the most important thing is knowing what is most comfortable and conducive to good sleep for you. You may want to cuddle your partner all night but if you get too warm or like to sleep on your front, then you’ll have to compromise for quality rest.

Do People Sleep Better With A Partner?

The big question is whether or not sleeping with a partner helps or hinders your beauty sleep. Well, in 2022, the University of Arizona published a study that said sleeping with a partner can actually help with a number of sleep issues like sleep apnea and insomnia, as well as overall sleep quality, which is great news for couples who like to cosy up. Many researchers theorise that sleeping with someone reduces stress, which is often the cause of interrupted REM sleep, and makes us feel safer.

However, this is not the definitive answer for everyone.  There are lots of factors that go into getting good sleep such as

  • Temperature
  • Mental health
  • Physical health
  • Sensitivity to light/noises
  • Mattress comfort
  • Sleeping position

If you or your partner are having sleep issues, it can easily transfer to the other person, which can be detrimental to your relationship.

10 Tips for Better Sleep As a Couple

1. Don’t go to sleep stressed

Stress can severely impact your sleep, keeping you up and even giving you nightmares. Just before bed isn’t the time for arguments or stressful conversations if it can be helped, so try a relaxing activity together such as light yoga or meditation.

2. Align your schedules

If you’re a night owl and they’re an early bird, it can be hard to find a middle ground so you don’t disturb each other. However, it’s important to have a conversation about how much sleep you both need and how to compromise without losing out.

3. Fix your snoring problem!

from the 2022 Sleep Survey, we found 55% of people find their partner’s snoring annoying and it’s understandable, especially for those who share with loud snorers. Snoring can impact not just your partner’s sleep but also your own, so it’s important to get it under control.

4. Avoid stimulants

To stop you from bursts of energy when you’re supposed to be nodding off, avoid caffeine in energy drinks, coffee, and even green tea. Instead try some late-night drinks that will promote drowsiness, instead of preventing it for a peaceful sleep for you both.

5. Make space for each other

While it depends on the size of your room, getting a bigger bed can really solve a lot of sleep issues for couples. If you find you feel crowded next to someone in bed and just can’t get comfortable, then it might be time to upgrade your sleeping space. Just because you love someone, doesn’t mean you want to sleep on top of them!

6. Get your own bedding

Share with a duvet-hogger? It’s simple – get your own! Couples having separate bedding is common in lots of European countries like Germany and across Scandinavia, and it makes sense. By having your own covers, you can choose the material and thickness that you prefer, without worrying about what your partner likes.

7. Limit your screen time

While technology in the bedroom is generally discouraged as it can disrupt your circadian rhythm, we also recommend putting your screens away when it comes to sharing a bed. Not only does it keep you up, but you also risk disrupting your partner with the light.

8. Invest in earplugs and an eye mask

If you and your partner do have separate sleep schedules: maybe one of you gets ready before dawn or the other unwinds with games until after midnight, then earplugs and an eye mask can be a super easy solution. Blocking out noise and light will help the sleeper drift off in comfort while the other person doesn’t have to worry about disturbing them.

9. Make your bedroom a sleep sanctuary

We know we all get busy with life and things fall to the wayside – maybe you’ve created a floordrobe, the work laptop has crept into your bed, and there are more kids’ toys in your room than theirs. However, if you’re both struggling to sleep, then it’s time to fall back in love… with your bedroom. Take our top tips on turning your bedroom back into a space for all things sleep and see how your rest transforms.

10. Separate beds

Finally, one of the best ways to sleep better as a couple is to sleep separately! Although it can feel like this means something is wrong, it’s actually the opposite. If you have the space, talk through what you need from your sleep schedule and if separate beds are the solution. For many couples, a “sleep divorce” is a fantastic compromise to revitalise the rest of their relationship.

About the author

More from the Sleep Matters Club