5th October 2012

Nearly half of Britons turn their backs on their partner in bed every night so that they can get a good night’s sleep

2012 sees the death of the traditional goodnight kiss as 80% of Britons are too tired to pucker up at bedtime

It’s not all lovey-dovey, whispering of sweet nothings and cuddles under the duvet for British couples according to findings from a new sleep behaviour study out today. The study of 2,000 couples by hotel chain Travelodge has revealed we are becoming a loveless nation in the sack as 46% of Britons choose to turn away and sleep with their back to their lover in a bid to get a good night’s sleep every night.

So big is the problem that a quarter of lovers reported they cannot bear for their partner to touch them whilst they are sleeping. Sadly, it isn’t just cuddling that’s being forgotten in the bedroom as nearly 90% of couples admit they don’t utter those three important words (I love you) before turning the lights out and eight out of ten couples won’t even have a kiss before nodding off.

The study conducted with relationship psychologist Corrine Sweet has investigated what Britons’ sleeping positions says about their relationship. During sleep, you cannot fake your body language, this is the time when you are honest and vulnerable and your sleeping position can reveal a lot about your relationship.

Key findings from the research have revealed that nearly half of British couples sleep in the fetal position with their backs turned to their lover. The fetal position is sleeping on your side with head and shoulders curled in and knees pulled up. This position shows your innocence and trust.

This distant way of sleeping is becoming more common among couples as research shows that contrary to popular belief the ‘spooning’ position is just something we hear about as less than a fifth of couples actually go to sleep spooning each other.

The heroic romantic movie scene sleeping position, with the man lying on his back facing up and the woman’s head cradled in the man’s chest or shoulder famously portrayed in the eighties film ‘When Harry Met Sally’, is just a position for the camera. In reality, a mere 1% of British adults actually sleep like the Hollywood couples in romantic chick flicks.

Relationship Psychologist, Corinne Sweet, said: “Inevitably, once the first flush of lust wears off, with couples naked and entwined, it is more likely that the need for a good night's sleep predominates, so sleeping back to back becomes a favourable position in bed."

Listed below is a breakdown of the most popular sleeping positions adopted by Britons and what each positions means.

Back to back but not touching (28%)

This couple feel connected whilst independent enough to sleep separately. They are used to each other and accept each other’s sleeping habits.

Back to back but touching (18%)

This couple are comfortable, intimate and relaxed with each other. A popular position in a new relationship.

Spoons – Male spoons with the female on the inside (13%)
This is a traditional position, in which the male takes the lead and protects his lover. Couples sleep side-by-side each curled up with each other in the foetal position. Traditional spooning is the most common position adopted by

couples during the first few years of their relationship or marriage. It shows both a strong sexuality and feeling of security in the relationship.

Pillow talk
Face to face (7%)

This position represents an intimate need for one-to-one contact and conversation in bed.

Lovers Knot
Face to face, legs intertwined for 10 minutes then couples separate to sleep (8%)

This position demonstrates a loving independence, it’s a sign of intimacy, love and sexual activity - even though the couple separate and sleep apart.

Spoons – Female
Spoons with the female on the outside (5%)

In this position the female takes the lead and protects her man while he is sleeping.

The Lovers
Face to face with legs intertwined all night (4%)

This is love’s young dream position where you cannot bear to be separated as each moment together counts. A position for the born romantics.

The Romantic
Woman lying with head and arm on man’s chest (1%)

This is the popular Hollywood movie bed scene position. An intimate pose much favoured in a new relationship or after love making. It represents new / rekindled love.

Woman lying in star fish position with man hanging off the bed (1%)

The woman rules the bed in this position, she likes her space and the man takes a secondary role and lets her take it.

Man lying in star fish position with woman hanging off the bed (1%)

In this position the male is king of the bed, he likes to have his way and the female is happy to oblige.

Top tips for couples to take note of:

Symbolically curled positions in sleep mean “I want to trust others and feel safe”

Bodies stretched out in sleep mean “I want to take charge and experience adventure”
Hands curled inwards mean “I want to cuddle and connect”

Hands wrapped around a pillow can indicate a cuddly nature. If hands and/or arms are held, or pressed tightly, or straight down at the sides it means “I want to be alone”

Sleeping on your stomach temporarily typically shows you are anxious or feel things are out of control and need to protect the vulnerable front of your body

An individual who always sleeps on his/her stomach but with arms bent and hands up around the head in a crown position is showing s/he is persistent, goal oriented, compulsive and stubborn

Ideas to get British couples cuddling again:

Say “I loved it when you slept with your arms around me and I noticed you haven’t been doing that. What can we do to feel closer again?”

Start cuddling and holding hands before falling asleep. Holding hands shows deep caring

Corinne Sweet continues: "Couples fall into habitual ways of sleeping together that suits their personalities and personal preferences. These are negotiated at the outset, so if something changes in how they sleep together, this can reflect a change in their relationship and cause concern for the other partner.

”Individual psychological states also affect how we sleep and the positions we sleep in, so if we are stressed we may be irritable, and not want to snuggle up with our partner. Arguments often lead to sleeping wide apart, as people feel loathe to touch. Women's temperatures rise with menstruation, so they may want to sleep less entwined during their 'time of the month’.”

Further research also highlighted a trend for sleeping apart. Nowadays one in 10 couples admits to sleeping separately from their partner in the quest for a good night’s sleep. Alarmingly a quarter of couples in their sexual prime age (35 and above) are considering sleeping in separate beds.

Couples not in favour of having their own bed are still vying for more space between the sheets with more than half now opting for a King Size bed and over a quarter considering an upgrade from their standard double.

The sleep behaviour report also found that one in four couples constantly argues in bed because they are kept awake by their partners sleeping habits.

The survey also revealed that more than half of people questioned said they felt their sex life was better if they ‘cuddled-up’ more. More men at 67% responded that their sex life was better if they cuddled more during the night. 34% of men said that it annoyed them if their partner did not cuddle them in bed in comparison to 26% of women.

Experts have stated longevity of a marriage is enhanced when couples fall

asleep and wake up at the same time. Couples who go to sleep together and get up at the same time are content in their relationship.

Over half of adults can tell if their partner is cheating on them by the way they sleep. Nearly two thirds of women are more vigilant under the duvet and can detect if their other half is playing away by his bedroom antics. Nearly one in 10 men have made the cardinal sin and called their wife or girlfriend the wrong name in bed.

Shakila Ahmed, Travelodge spokeswoman, said: “The Travelodge sleep behaviour study has revealed a lot about our relationships. It’s interesting to see that as a nation we’re not snuggling up, and in some cases, choosing to sleep in separate beds.

“It’s sad to see that we’re no longer saying I love you. As a nation I think it’s a time we start puckering up and bring back the traditional bedtime kiss before nodding off.”