Why do we change position in sleep

Sleeping positions Meaning: What they reveal about us

No matter how full the appointment calendar and how stressful the job: People spend around a third of their lives in sleep. For this reason alone, the sleeping positions play a major role. According to studies, around 40 percent of Germans suffer from insomnia or have difficulty falling asleep. Many dig and roll through different sleeping positions. But they don't just decide how well or how badly we sleep. Researchers say: the sleeping position itself reveals a lot about our personality and behavior ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Sleeping positions: how they work and what they reveal

In order to fall asleep well, sleeping positions are of central importance. Many can only fall asleep in a very specific position. If they are different, you simply cannot find peace. It looks different after falling asleep: we all regularly toss and change positions during sleep. Our preferred sleeping positions are therefore primarily referred to as “sleeping positions”. This can have advantages and disadvantages. What is remarkable, however, is that sleep researchers now want to be able to derive lifestyle habits and character traits from the respective sleeping positions. Believe it or not, it's always amusing:

Back sleeper

Lying horizontally on your back in the bed with your arms resting on the sheet at the sides - this sleeping position is considered to be particularly healthy. Assuming the mattress is good, this posture relaxes the back and neck best. But only if the spine really stays straight. If you use too many or too high pillows, you will cause the neck vertebrae to be incorrectly positioned. A sleeping position on your back should be particularly advantageous for the deep sleep phase. Whoever sleeps like this reports a better and longer rest afterwards. Disadvantage: Quite a few tend to snore in this sleeping position. In addition, many do not find this position in bed comfortable enough to fall asleep. Despite the health benefits, it is correspondingly difficult to get used to this sleeping position.

Researchers refer to the supine position as an "open and vulnerable" position. Therefore, sleepers of this type show their pronounced self-confidence and self-confidence. There are often strong personalities who doze off like that. Many workaholics, founders and managers reportedly prefer this position.

Stomach sleeper

Representatives of this sleeping posture prefer to lie on their stomach with their faces buried in the pillow, their arms usually crossed in front of their heads or rifled into the pillow. It is one of the most popular positions, but great caution should be exercised in this. Whether you breathe through the pillow or rather crouch with your head to one side: The posture usually brings hardly any relief for your neck and back. Breathing is inhibited by the pressure on the chest and abdomen. Restful sleep is thus made more difficult. The twisted posture of the head in this sleeping position also almost inevitably creates tension. Notorious stomach sleepers also often complain of pain in the lumbar region in the morning. Experts therefore advise getting used to other sleeping positions.

According to studies, those who prefer to fall asleep in this position are often creatures of habit, with tendencies towards stubbornness and stubbornness up to obsessive-compulsive behavioral neuroses. Well But there is also something positive about it: lovers of this sleeping position are often extremely goal-oriented and like to assert themselves.

Side sleeper

By far the most popular sleeping position: on your side, your head comfortably on the pillow, your hands relaxed under your head or on your side. Significantly more than half of all people like to fall asleep this way best and best. It doesn't matter if it's left or right. In most cases, sleeping on your side is healthy and harmless. It is important that the spine is not twisted, but lies as straight as possible on its side. Otherwise there is a risk of pain the next morning. Also, make sure that you do not lie too much with your head and pillow on your hand, as this can become numb. Unfortunately, the popular sleeping position also has a few disadvantages: Long contact between the cheek and pillow can cause blemishes and pimples. However, fresh bed linen on a regular basis can help. Caution is advised with shoulder problems, because the lower shoulder is noticeably more stressed in this sleeping position.

A plus point according to researchers: Those who fall asleep like this tend to be what one calls a sociable type - forgiving, willing to compromise, gentle, striving for harmony.

Embryonic sleeper

The more extreme version of the side sleeper. The legs are strongly bent, the back curled up, the arms protect the upper body. Sometimes these sleep types also clamp a pillow or sheet between their legs. On the one hand: Who doesn't want that - to fall asleep again as safe as a baby? On the other hand, the strong curvature of the spine is more stressful than it relaxes. The trapped stomach also prevents deep breathing. If at all possible, you should therefore switch to the much healthier version of the side sleeper.

What does this sleeping position reveal? It indicates a highly emotional, sensitive person with a strong urge to bond, who is also interested in monogamous relationships.

What is your favorite sleeping position?

The following grid shows different variants of the most common sleeping positions. It works like in chess: letter and number form the coordinates for your favorite sleeping position. You will then receive brief information on how good this is for your night's sleep.


  • A 1: A good and healthy sleeping position. The supine position is recommended, just be careful not to bend your spine too much by turning your head.
  • A 2: The mixture of supine and embryonic position creates a twisted back. It would be better if you choose one of the two sleeping positions.
  • A 3: This sleeping position is a dream for stomach sleepers, but experts recommend getting used to a different one. You do not relax your back or neck.
  • A 4:The straight back in this sleeping position is a great advantage. It would only be even better if the hips were not rotated.
  • A 5:The optimal and healthiest position for sleep experts. The back straight, neck and shoulders well supported.
  • A 6:A strongly bent leg is not bad as long as the rest of the sleeping position is correct. Here the head could be kept a little straight to reduce the pressure on the neck muscles.
  • B 1: Unhealthy prone position with your head twisted - not a good sleeping position.
  • B 2: Although the back remains very straight, the strong rotation of the head puts a strain on the neck. In addition, knees and legs suffer from great stress.
  • B 3: The slight curvature of the spine could lead to slight tension.
  • B 4: Here the back remains a little straighter, which means that the spine is less stressed. Care should be taken when rotating sideways so as not to twist while sleeping.
  • B 5: Anyone who can sleep like this is doing everything right.
  • B 6: A good sleeping position. Straight back and relaxed neck muscles avoid painful waking up.
  • C 1: Side sleeper with bent legs. Not quite as strong as in the embryonic position. A very good sleeping position because the back - as shown here - remains very straight.
  • C 2: A classic embryonic sleeper. The extremely drawn up legs bend the back and make breathing difficult. Better to put your legs in a more stretched position.
  • C 3: The side sleeper position is good, but the bent head creates a curved spine. The result is tension in the neck and back.
  • C 4: In this example, the back remains perfectly straight. Unfortunately, the neck is very tense from the rotation.
  • C 5: Even with your head next to the pillow, the strain on your back and neck remains in the prone position.
  • C 6: A generally good sleeping position. However, it is recommended that the neck and head be straightened over the body. This takes the curve out of the spine and relaxes the back.
  • D 1: A good sleeping position for your back and neck. However, shoulders and arms can be sore if they are held up for long periods of time.
  • D 2: Back and side sleepers are combined here. The lower back is slightly twisted by the rotation in the hips, otherwise a good sleeping position.
  • D 3: This sleeping position on your back would be highly recommended if you had a pillow under your head.
  • D 4: Good because the back is straight. Bad, because pressure on the stomach makes breathing difficult and the head is twisted a lot to one side. In addition, a pillow would be good to support the position of the head.
  • D 5: Sleeping on your back without a pillow is not a good idea. In this sleeping position, the head lacks the support it needs. The neck becomes overstretched and tense. In addition, the pillow over the face in the picture makes breathing more difficult.
  • D 6: A frequent stomach sleeper position - unfortunately not good for the body. The spine is slightly twisted, the neck is very tense. Rather, try to sleep on your back or on your side.

There is no substitute for good, regular sleep

We all need enough sleep - to relax, to think more clearly, to learn new things. If you sleep poorly, the next day you feel as if you are exhausted and by noon you are hardly able to perform, exhausted and overtired. Regular and good sleep is a real fountain of youth in which we not only recover mentally, but also regenerate physically. The growth hormone "somatotropin", which is only released during deep sleep and ensures the growth and renewal of our cells, is responsible for this in particular. That is why it is so important, for example, that we regularly sleep deeply, otherwise cell growth will decrease and we will develop wrinkles more quickly.

In addition, everyone knows from personal experience what effects poor and insufficient sleep can have on mood. You are irritated, annoyed by others and hit the ceiling faster. A powder keg when several colleagues meet in the office who have not found a good sleeping position and take each other on the collar.

Healthy sleep in 5 phases

Healthy sleep typically has five phases:

  1. Phase 1
    When we go to bed, the organism gradually shuts down, blood pressure and body temperature drop, we fall asleep.
  2. Phase 2
    In the deep sleep phase, the body relies primarily on relaxation, we regenerate - thanks to somatotropin.
  3. Phase 3
    In the third phase, the brain processes the impressions of the day and learns, as a result: We dream particularly wildly. The body temperature is now at its lowest point.
  4. Phase 4
    Now physical renewal and the learning process are complete, the hormone mix changes: Instead of melatonin, the wake-up hormone cortisol now increasingly flows through the bloodstream. We sleep more and more flatly, but dream all the more wildly, often also erotic.
  5. Phase 5
    In the fifth phase, there is a good dose of the sex hormone and a shot of ghrelin - the hormone increases hunger. Consequence: We wake up.

6 signs you are sleeping poorly

Whether you have a good sleeping position that enables a good night's sleep is likely to be determined by two factors: the length of sleep and the rest of the morning. These are good indications. But you should also watch out for signs that indicate poor sleep. Insomnia a Health Risk! It manifests itself in everyday life through many symptoms. For example these six:

  • Obesity
    Insomniacs are at increased risk of obesity. Studies suggest a connection between less than six hours of sleep and an increased body mass index (BMI).
  • immune system
    Those who only sleep six hours or less are four times more likely to catch a cold. A team from the University of California presented these figures.
  • Ability to concentrate
    Memory and concentration suffer enormously from a lack of sleep, warns Philip Alapat of the sleep laboratory at Baylor College of Medicine. Before exams, you should sleep at least eight hours. In general, eight to nine hours of sleep are optimal for students.
  • Risk of accident
    Fatigue at the wheel is a risk of accidents - that's common sense. Scientists at the University of Bologna have been able to prove that adolescents are twice as likely to have an accident if they are tired or have slept poorly.
  • listlessness
    Lack of sleep can reduce any motivation to zero. This is due to effects in the hormonal balance. Doctors at the University of Chicago have shown that too little sleep sends testosterone levels in healthy young men on a descent. Consequences: dullness, weakness and listlessness.
  • Aging
    The less adults sleep, the faster their brains age. Scientists at the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School in Singapore use this concise formula to summarize their research results. Seven hours of sleep are ideal. It could even prevent high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and strokes.

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October 25, 2020Author: Jochen Mai

Jochen Mai is the founder and editor-in-chief of the career bible. The author of several books lectures at the TH Köln and is a sought-after keynote speaker, coach and consultant.

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