The psychology of sleep

The star gazer; the free faller; the starfish…no, they’re not names of latest ‘hot yoga’ poses, but rather a way to describe your sleeping position. And what it says about your personality.

Sleep scientists and psychologists have long been examining the way we sleep and how it affects our health – how long should we sleep for, when’s the best time to go to bed, should we avoid heavy meals in the evening. All important stuff of course, but what they’ve also discovered is that how we sleep when we’re lying in bed also gives an insight into our personality type – and it’s fascinating stuff!

Turns out that there are nine main sleeping positions:

The Foetal Position

Pretty easy to picture - curled up, on your side, into a tight ball, as you would have in the womb. Double the amount of women compared to men sleep in this position according to a recent UK sleep survey.

Personality: Are you a tough nut on the outside but a complete softie underneath? This is normally a dead giveaway for people who sleep in this position. Typically shy when you first meet them but very quick to open up and reveal more of themselves once they get to know you.

The Soldier

“Atteeeeeention!” Very few people sleep this way – on their backs, arms by their sides in a particularly rigid, ‘soldier-like’ position.

Personality: Pretty much as you’d expect, those who sleep this way are generally quiet and reserved, with high moral standards and little tolerance for those who don’t hold themselves strictly to account like this.

The Yearner

A bit of an unusual one, this position is where you lie on your side with your arms stretched out straight in front of you, as if you’re reaching – or ‘yearning’ – for something.

Personality: Can be a little complicated – they are generally open-minded people but also cynical and suspicious when trying to make a decision. Yet totally resolute once they’ve made up their minds, so there’s no talking them out of it.

The Starfish

Exactly as you’d imagine it, starfish sleepers literally spread themselves out across the mattress, arms and legs reaching out in the most comfortable and carefree style!

Personality: These people make great friends. They’re good listeners and always there to help someone in need. They don’t really like being the focus of attention but they handle it well if it happens that they are from time to time.

The Log

Log sleepers – who make up around 15 per cent of the British population - lie on their sides in bed but with their arms down by their sides. Unlike Soldier sleepers though, these people are far from reserved or organised.

Personality: These people are social butterflies - friendly, carefree, and popular. They are also particularly trusting types who are sometimes gullible and susceptible to a scam or a dishonest story.

The Freefaller

Sounds like a bit of an odd one but this is where you lie on your stomach, arms wrapped around your pillow with head turned to one side. Some can’t imagine a more uncomfortable way to sleep, but those who do this wouldn’t sleep any other way.

Personality: Freefallers may appear confident and sociable on the surface, but underneath they are usually quite sensitive and lack the thick skin needed to deal with criticism or difficult situations.

The Pillow Hugger

These people are generally the snuggliest bed-dwellers around. They love nothing more than cuddling and being close in bed and have a lot of love to give.

Personality: Pillow hugging people absolutely cherish their closest relationships – be it family, friends or life partner, these people mean more to them than anything material.

The Stargazer

Lying on your back with your arms wrapped around your head makes you a Stargazer.

Personality Traits: Much like the Pillow Huggers above, their friends and family are their priority. They also have a super-positive outlook on life and a have a great energy to be around.

The Thinker

Imagine the Foetal position, but with one hand gently resting on your chin and you have the Thinker.

Personality: Highly emotionally-charged and very much in focused on analysing (and sometimes over-analysing) situations, the Thinker will often be known for having a very intense personality.

Intrigued? Just before you fall asleep tonight, try to check out the position you find yourself in right before you nod off, and see if the research above it right for you and the way you sleep. Then tell us all about it!

 [Sources:, and a 2018 UK sleep study conducted by Chris Idzikowski, director of the UK’s Sleep Assessment and Advisory Service].

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