If you’re feeling like you’re having trouble getting ahead at work, if may have nothing to do with what you’re doing at the office and everything to do with the way you’re sleeping. No, not the hours of sleep you’re getting, or even the times you’re sleeping, but the position you’re sleeping in.
“If you wake up in a fetal position, you’re waking up on the wrong side of the bed,” said Amy J.C. Cuddy, assistant professor at Harvard Business School. Cuddy is a social psychologist and a popularTED Talk presenter who’s extensively researched the power of body language.
The good news? You’re not alone. Around 40 percent of all people sleep in the fetal position, said Cuddy. It’s a sleep position often adopted by highly sensitive and emotional people and nearly double the number of women sleep in the fetal position than men.
Cuddy says that sleeping in the fetal position could detrimentally influence your success because it subconsciously impacts the way we feel about ourselves.
“Basically, our bodies change our minds, our minds change our behaviors, and our behaviors change our outcomes,” she says. To use another example, if studies have shown that you can actually will yourself to feel happier by smiling, because the mind-body connection is that powerful.
Similarly, by spending so much time in a submissive body posture — even while sleeping — you’re subconsciously giving yourself the message that you don’t want or have personal power.
But there are things you can do to change that. For one, you can practice positive, powerful stances on your way out the door. Cuddy recommends posing with your arms and elbows out, and chin lifted for at least two minutes before you leave in the morning. It may look sort of funny, but she swears by it and say it’ll increase your abstract thinking abilities and risk tolerance.
And if you’re up for a bigger challenge, try changing up your sleep stance. The best way to sleep, according to Cuddy is lying in an open position with arms and legs outstretched, basically taking up as much space as possible in your bed. Just make sure not to knock your significant other around too much.