Note: I wrote this a while ago, but decided not to post it because while the lame-o ASCII diagrams looked great in emacs (not a lot of inter-line space) they somehow look much worse in HTML/web browsers). But then I saw prole's WU, and she talked me into it...

No, this isn't about what you were thinking.

This node is about how to literally sleep together: how to manage it when it's not just you in the bed. Sex, what you probably thought this was going to be about, is no problem in a small space. However, it's another thing entirely to try to snuggle up on a twin-size Sealy posturepedic afterwards and get in a good night's snooze.

As anyone who has ever tried this knows, it's not easy. Since we have a healthy number of college-age-and-below noders, maybe some of you have never attempted a full night's sleep with another person, even if you've had a go at the sex part already. In any case, the strategies listed below are going to be of use to you if you look anything like this lying on top of your bed (#include standard disclaimer about bad ASCII graphics):

| O |
| | |
| \\|
|   |

That's a standard twin (single) bed, and as you well know there's not a lot of extra room for that special someone. It helps if you push the long side of the bed up against a wall, so there's at least one side that prevents you from falling off, but at the end of the day it's not a lot of space to share. When you get out of dormitory beds into the wide world and start earning your own keep, you will want to invest in a proper queen- or king-size bed, which looks more like this:

| O   O |
|\|/ \|/|
| |   | |
| \\  \\|
|       |

Plenty of room there for company. With such a spacious bed, the two of you have enough room to sleep entirely separately if you want to, or can begin the night in a snuggle and then push away and retreat to separate areas after one of you begins to snore, an arm falls asleep, etc. But for now, you've got two people in a bed designed for one, and you need to bring a little creativity to bear.

Here are the four canonical positions for small-bed sleeping. The language, on purpose, is entirely gender- and orientation-nonspecific:

 Q Q 

Position 1: The Facing Embrace

Persons A and B sleep on their sides, facing one another, like a hug frozen midway through. This seems at first brush to be the most intimate of sleeping positions, and it's what almost everybody seems to try first, but physically and logistically it is a horrible mess:

  • your top arms have trouble making their way around each other, and the bottom arms near the mattress compete for the same space.
  • your torsos get none of the lateral support that is built in to the Spoon Position (see below), so if you don't sleep well on your side you're going to be uncomfortable after a while.
  • you are facing each other, and breathing into each other's faces. If the two of you don't go to sleep simultaneously this can be distracting to the person left awake, who is getting rhythmic blasts of air in his or her face. And this is assuming your partner's breath is pleasant, and neither of you had the twelve-garlic chicken for dinner...

The facing embrace can be made to work if one person is substantially shorter than the other, but in that case the Shoulder Snuggle, below, is much more suitable.


Position 2: The Shoulder Snuggle

This one works especially well if the top person, B, is smaller in size than the bottom person, A. A is lying on his/her back. B snuggles in from below and to the right and extends the left hand over A's stomach, then rests his or her head in the pocket between A's neck and shoulder (just above the breast). This is extremely comfortable when done correctly, and the rhythmic breathing of either party can be incredibly relaxing. One drawback is that improper positioning can cut off the blood supply to B's left arm. This does succeed in putting B's *arm* to sleep, of course, just not the rest of his or her body.


Position 3: The Spoon Position

The most compact and small-bed-friendly of the sleeping positions. A and B sleep on their sides, facing the same direction and "stacked" like spoons. The front person (A) sleeps sideways in almost a fetal position. B snuggles up from behind, with B's top arm over A (under or below A's top arm and then over the stomach/torso), and the bottom arm resting on the mattress in the small space between A and B. Legs are slightly or pronouncedly bent, with B's legs scooting in behind A's. Some people can sleep with B's right arm extending out to the right, but other people find this puts undue strain on the lower back.


Position 4: Head to Toe

Participants sleep on their sides (facing away from each other) or on backs/stomachs if room allows, with heads on opposite ends. This is recommended only under the following conditions:


That, in my experience, is basically an exhaustive list. Let me know if I've left anything out, and pleasant dreams to all.

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