Body language has often been seen as a key to gaining insights into the state of a couple's relationship, and now a new study suggests that the sleeping position of couples is reflective of the bond they share.

Based on a survey conducted for the Edinburgh International Science Festival, which studied 1000 people, the intimacy between partners is mirrored by the distance or gap which separates them during sleep. The research was led by Professor Richard Wiseman, psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire.

"This is the first survey to examine couples' sleeping positions, and the results allow people to gain an insight into someone's personality and relationship by simply asking them about their favourite sleeping position," says Wiseman.

The research discloses that couples who sleep less than an inch away from each other are likely to be more content with the relationship, when compared to partners who had a gap of more than 30 inches.

The survey also revealed that partners whose bodies made contact with each other through the night were happier when compared to couples who had a "no touching" rule when sleeping.

"One of the most important differences involved touching. Ninety four per cent of couples who spent the night in contact with one another were happy with their relationship, compared to just 68% of those that didn't touch," notes Wiseman.

The most popular positions for sleeping were also revealed with lying back-to-back being the favorite - accounting to 42 percent - followed by ­­facing the similar direction with 31 percent and facing each other with 4 percent.

The survey also revealed that nearly 12 percent couples slept with less than an inch of space separating them, whereas 2 percent of those surveyed had a distance of more than 30 inches between them.

Another important insight the study gives into relationship patterns revolves around the fact that the greater distance between couples while sleeping, the worse hit was the relationship.

"The key issue is if you have a couple who used to sleep close together but are now drifting further apart in bed, then that could symptomatic of them growing apart when they are awake," says Wiseman. "Change in a couple's sleeping habits is the important factor."

As per study, 86 percent of couples who had a distance of less than an inch between them were pleased with their relationship status. By comparison, only 66 percent of the partners who had a gap of more than 30 inches between them were content with their relationship.

Another trend which emerged was that extroverts were more likely to spend the night in proximity with their partner and creative people had a tendency to sleep on their left hand side.

Wiseman, however, did not discount factors such as snoring by one of the individuals in the relationship which could affect the distance between the couple. Moreover, some people faced away from their partner while sleeping as they do not like somebody else's breath on them.

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