Sleep Tight

Sleep Positions coverSleep Postions
The Night Language of the Body

Just when I think I have seen or heard everything, here comes a book on sleep positions. Yes, you read that right. Your personality can be determined from what position you assume when you sleep. I have a hard time buying this one as legit science, but I am keeping an open mind. A cursory search said Dunkell does have serious medical credentials and published a book on insomnia in 1996.

So is this a weeder? Yeah, the pub date is too old. However if I were a librarian in the late 70s instead of a a high school student, I would have included it in a collection. Please weigh in on this. I actually find this whole topic to be quite fascinating.


PS In case you are interested, I think I am somewhere between fetal position and “Dutch Wife.” ¬†Holly is a sleep walker so I wonder what THAT means.

Inside flap

Full-Fetal position

Royal sleep position

Dutch Wife position

Cat sleep position


  1. It probably has some medical significance, but personality is pushing it. I would definitely be wary of highly reputable medical doctors who wander into mental health without that background.

  2. I think the good doctor borrowed these pictures from a crime scene artist. A few stab wounds and he’d have a whole new book.

  3. I never realized that punctuality was a sign of insecurity. Here I thought I was just being considerate.

    I do sleep prone mostly, but the diagonal part is usually my trying to find some free mattress space amidst my 3 cats.

  4. I move around a lot in bed and sleep in many positions through the night. Does that mean I have Multiple Personality Disorder? Am I a Sibyl-Sleeper?

  5. I think this idea of attributing meaning to sleeping positions must have caught on a bit in the 70s & 80s. I seem to remember reading lots of articles about this kind of thing in my moms “women’s” magazines when I was a kid. And not only that, we actually learned this stuff in my Home & Family Living class in high school in about 1985.

  6. Actually found this book on our shelves. It was interesting to see all the pictures of the sleep positions. There is one called the boxer that is literally someone sleeping on his back with his fists up ready to block or throw a punch. REM sleep position of heavyweight champions, I presume? I don’t know how anyone could sleep like that. But then, I move around a lot too when I’m sleeping, so I guess I’m not one to comment on the oddness of others sleeping positions.

  7. I’ve seen this book before too! I found it on the shelves of my undergrad university library when I was a work study student. This was one of the books that would catch my eye and make me get lost in the stacks while shelving carts!

  8. Wow, I can’t believe there’s actually a name for my odd sleeping style. But “The Dutch Wife” Why wife? Am I the only woman who sleeps like that?

  9. I think this book probably started out as a kind of Kama Sutra for Somnambulists, but never really caught on.

    I’m with Peter Cannon – there should quite clearly be chalk outlines around several of the bodies in these pictures.

  10. I did a paper on this in high school, surveyed students in my class and everything. By the time I was done, I was pretty sure it was hokum, since there was also research coming out that we all move so much during the night we don’t have A position that we sleep in. Although, maybe the mattress huggers could use a bit of security, and the folks who sprawl out on their back with their arms and legs out need a bed of their own, and possibly a cpap.

    Not that there has been a whole lot of sleep research since, it’s been a marginalized area.

  11. I totally want to know what they call me in this book.
    I have to start out on my left side, arm under my head and stretched out fairly straight but hugging a pillow, and another pillow between my knees (to keep my body straight). I also have a thin pillow over my head to blot out noise.
    I can’t fall asleep until I roll to my right side (bringing all these pillows with me), at which point the position becomes more fetal (straight arm comes in).
    If I can’t fall asleep fairly quickly I have to turn and repeat. And if I REALLY can’t fall asleep I have to flip upside down in bed, taking all the pillows with me.
    Going on vacation with me is awesome.

  12. Male Dutch Wifer here. The book’s theory linking it to female intimacy has some merit. If I slept on my back I’d be snoring away and get myself kicked out of bed.

  13. I was talking a friend who’s about the same age as me the other day, and it turned out her mum put her to sleep on her front as a baby (as was the prevailing wisdom at the time) and my mum didn’t, because she thought was silly. I sleep on my back, which is how my mother put me to sleep. My friend still sleeps on her front, I still sleep on my back. I bet that’s got far more to do with it than some silly bit of pseudo-science!

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