I want to sleep like a starfish, not like Dracula
May 29, 2009 5:06 PM   Subscribe

Lately I sleep in the coffin or mummy position (elbows at sides, hands on chest, legs straight, ankles crossed) , no matter what size bed I'm in. How can I teach myself to relax and spread out?

I'm not sure whether this sleep position is a cause or effect, but I find I'm much more physically tense and uncomfortable. I wake up feeling like I've been in a straitjacket all night.

Searches turn up sleep-movement-disorder solutions of the opposite problem (sleeping like a starfish and taking up too much of the bed) or other problems (can't stop sleeping on back or front) but nothing about this.

I usually sleep on a side, and sometimes end up doing the facedown "hanged man tarot card" (arms meeting under pillow, face on pillow to one side, one leg bent and one straight), and these are both fine.

But I can't figure out why if I'm on my back at any point, I automatically pin my elbows to my sides and clutch my hands to my chest. I never have my hands down at my hips like a soldier at attention, but the opposite - I've woken up more than once with my arms folded like someone who disagrees.

Is my dreaming self fiercely protecting my armpits or something?
How can I retrain my arms to spread out, and my ankles to uncross?
It's usually just me in this big bed, and even when it's not, I've sometimes gotten complaints - "you're all the way over there on the other side sleeping like you were in an army cot - come over here and snuggle!". (this is not a new-relationship thing - I do this whether it's with a loving partner in the bed or just me, and have been for years.)
posted by bartleby to Health & Fitness (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

During the worst and most stressful years of my life I slept like this. I can tell you unequivocally that it was the daytime stress that caused the nighttime sleep "stress". When the stressor was removed, the chronic problem went away within weeks. But I still awake to find myself that way from time to time, especially when it's cold. So there might be some physiological need to conserve warmth in there some where.

I would look at ways to reduce your daytime stress. My poor attempt at a solution was alcohol, but that really just exacerbated the problem. I hope you can find a better one.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 5:27 PM on May 29, 2009

This is how I sleep when I'm cold. Do you have poor blood circulation? How do you sleep under a huge comforter?
posted by xorry at 6:37 PM on May 29, 2009

Mr. Cestmoi and I both sleep like this when our backs hurt, just a data point for you.
posted by cestmoi15 at 1:05 PM on May 30, 2009

I sleep like that but for me it's how I'm most comfortable. the crossed ankles part is what would worry me the most. Lower extremities need that flow.
posted by Redhush at 7:26 PM on May 30, 2009

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