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The politics of sharing a bed

world Updated: Feb 23, 2010 01:06 IST

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According to Evany Thomas, author of The Secret Language Of Sleep, there are 39 distinct sleeping positions, ranging from common or garden Spoons to the more exotic Stairway.

It’s tempting to interpret these as manifestations of the nature of the relationship of the couple — it’s hard to look at the Springloader, say, without thinking that somebody has some issues — but let’s not forget these people are unconscious.

Individuals come into relationships with odd sleeping habits of their own, habits that must ultimately be accommodated. Finding a mutually satisfactory layout is usually a matter of trial and error.

No single arrangement is going to last for the full seven hours. For security’s sake, you may need to expand your repertoire — experiment with the Scissors, the Zipper, the Koala and Tree. On some nights you may need them all.

That doesn’t mean the positions themselves aren’t interesting. Devotees of the Conjoined Twins formation might feel they have a healthier relationship than Cliffhanger couples, though in reality they probably just have a much smaller bed. There are several positions — Starfish being the most obvious — where one half of the couple is getting the worst of the bargain, and one may speculate whether these roles are replicated or reversed during the day.

Ironically, the most peaceful arrangement has the most troubling name: Crime Scene. Here the couple lies side by side in the haphazard attitude of two shooting victims.

One thing is certain — any pair of people who falls asleep in that position must be contented. Or utterly exhausted.