Thursday, October 30, 2014
Wednesday, September 17, 2008 Blar, Community Member, asks

Q: Sleeping on back with knees bent

My husband says that I frequently sleep on my back with my knees bent up, and I'll lose muscle control and one of the knees will flop to the side. I then regain control and move it back towards the other knee. He says I will continue doing this until he literally pushes my legs down or nudges me to move to a side-sleeping position. I do not recall doing this, and have searched the internet for reasons, but to no avail. Any insight on this would be helpful, as this habit of mine disturbs his sleep.

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Answers (33)
Jerry Kennard, Health Guide
9/17/08 4:16pm

Hi Blar,


How interesting! I'm not sure why you should be disturbed by it however? So long as you are getting a good sleep I don't really see the problem. The fact that your husband is disturbed by it might be more of an issue?


I wonder if there is something very logical about why you sleep this way? Have you ever, for example, had a back problem or some other physical problem involving your stomach? Maybe you simply like sleeping in a fetal position (it's the most common) but this commences whilst you are lying on your back? Might it be the shape of your bed (mattress)? Is hubby heavy so you are pulled towards the middle of the bed?


I know this is all so much idle speculation but I guess I'm trying to suggest there could be a very practical reason for your sleeping position. Even if there isn't does it really matter?


I suppose if your husband is regularly having his sleep disturbed it suggests something of a problem which may require different solutions. You might like to think about ways of stopping you sleeping on your back (a bit like people who snore). Positioning of pillows in the middle of the bed can help. Other people suggest something hard sewn to the back of your night clothes. Once you get out of the routine of sleeping on your back you can dispense with the paraphenalia!


Just a few thoughts.


Good luck

Bitty Lee, Community Member
5/26/11 12:09pm

I have been told I do that same thing.. My knees bent - and one will fall to the side, then I put it right back up - I don't even realize I'm doing it. I also lay on my side and put my hand on my head w/my elbow in the air - I find this to be comfortable... I have caught myself doing this but didn't think anything of it - until my bf told me I do it (and he says he will push it down) He thinks it's funny and so do I -- I have no problem with it & he doesn't seem to care that I do it.. We laugh about it.. I sleep just fine, but I think I'm a bit weird.. haha

greta, Community Member
1/28/14 9:30am
I sleep exactly the same way! I find sometimes when I sleep on my side, I wake uo and my hips feel sore so i lay on my back. Now the reason I sleep with my knees up ane my arms abouve my head is a mystery Reply
thh7799, Community Member
11/14/08 12:11pm

I just thought I'd add to this, that both my 13 year old daughter, and my x-husband (her father) also sleep on their backs with their knees bent, it doesn't seem to be all the time, only occasionally, but I find it strange that it seems to be heriditary.  Both are the same birth sign, Aquarius.  Not sure, I'm at a loss, but I'm worried that when she gets older she'l lhave the same issues you're having.  I don't know.

celee, Community Member
6/ 5/12 3:02am

i do this too and i am also an aquarius.this may be a coincidence. it's been freaking me out a little because ill wake up as i'm doing this and it's a bit strange.


very relieve to find others that do this too though.

kat, Community Member
11/24/08 2:39pm

I do the exact same thing with my knees as well as place both my arms above my head. I'd also like to add that I am also an aquarius...pertaining to a comment. I have yet to find any further info on why I do this, as it doesn't seem matter the mattress or pillows I use to prevent it.

rita, Community Member
11/13/09 12:42am

And I thought I was the only one with such a peculiar sleeping habit. I do the same with my knees, holding them up high and constantly trying to regain balance when they drop. Supposedly I also hold have my palm on my head and erect my elbow and balance my elbow on top of my head. I am a Caprocorn though, and I don't see how this can mean anything, but nevertheless any information would be great so I can explain to my partner why I do these peculiar things at night.. lol

Andy, Community Member
12/ 9/08 8:14am

My girlfriend is getting the same with her knees. but hers are aching in the morning after sleep all night like it.

Is their any reason to be concerned?

eli, Community Member
2/ 9/09 8:54pm

I have also been told that I sometimes sleep on my back with my knees bent up.  Not sure how long this has been happening but at least a few years now.  I was born in July of 79.  Turning 30 this year- not sure if age makes a difference.  After I was told, I think I noticed it once but not sure if I was dreaming it. 

Oililly, Community Member
2/18/09 2:42pm

Wow, what a coincidence, I do the same thing (I think without my leg dropping). I was also born in July and I'm turning 30 this year as well !!


It doesn't bother me at all, I actually think it's probably good for keeping a straight back.

ssahand, Community Member
6/ 6/10 3:26pm

oh wow, I do the same thing now.

You see for many years but only once a year I used to sleep like I was sitting on a chair only on my back, I even had my hands across my chest like I was sitting politely in a meeting.


However it has been for 2,3 weeks now that I bend my knees and they fall and I regain balance and it becomes so annoying for my husband that he does the same thing as all of your significant others are doing, pushing my legs down so that my knees are not bent anymore.


I don't know why this is, I would like to know though. Please let me know if you have found any info about this.



J, Community Member
4/16/09 12:07pm

Very strange! This is EXACTLY what my boyfriend does... as they slip down/to the side he jolts them back... eventually I push them down for him or he turns over! He's 28 and born in April so I don't see a connection.... very funny though!

Mark123, Community Member
4/ 5/12 2:32pm

I've just woken up from yet another sleep with my knees in the air! I am turning 30 on April the 23rd & have been doing this for about the last 6 months I think...I don't find it very comfortable, my mrs always pushes my legs down or rolls me over but I always end up the same! I often wake up & go "dammit" & put them down as it is uncomfortable but end up the same after I fall asleep!


Susan, Community Member
4/27/09 5:54am

My boyfriend does the same thing - i think its actually quite funny - he's 32 and a taurus - so i'm not sure there's a connection there!

MIchelle K, Community Member
2/24/10 4:33pm

my boyfriend does the exact same thing, but also will put one hand to his head with his elbow in the air, like he is posing for a picture or will just raise one arm in the air and hold it there.  Everytime he jolts his legs back up or throws his arms around he wakes me up!  This is becoming a serious problem as I cannot get almost any sleep when we sleep in the same bed.......and I end up having to send him to a different room to sleep...

B723, Community Member
7/24/09 7:15am

I also do this.  I am 39 years old.  I have been doing this for about the last year and it is very discomforting.  One of my knees always drops to the side, without me knowing it, obviously as I am sleeping.  However, when I wake up, I can hardly move as my lower back and hip are in tremendous pain from being in that position with a leg hanging over like that.  I try to start off sleeping on my side, but every night I end up on my back with knees bent up.

Endersbl, Community Member
9/10/09 6:03pm

I have just been looking on the internet for info on this sleeping habit. Not much luck. My boyfriend has told me that I have been doing it for a while and it disturbs his sleep. Apparently I bend my knees up and then slowly let them drop so that I am laying flat & I do this repeatedly throughout the night. I have been suffering from leg pain recently and also horrible leg cramps in the night and wondered if this habit was related. 


Haha...I am a Capricorn by the way, so it looks unlikely that starsign is a connection ;-)

kaceface, Community Member
9/15/09 11:18pm

I am a 25 yr old female who does this pretty much every night, much to the dismay of my boyfriend. I always start on my stomach, my preferred position, than somewhere mid sleep I end up on my back again with knees up. My legs also end up falling to the side, pulling the sheets with them, and off my boyfriend. He usually ends up laying down my legs. I wish I knew why this happened.


When I was younger I think I had seen that my dad slept with his knees up as well, and one of my cousins on my dad's side also does, so maybe it is hereditary?... hope that helps.

camr777, Community Member
3/26/11 9:14pm

you see this all the time when camping, you raise your leags over your body to keep blood in your cheast, you dont do it on purpus. ive done it durring 2 things takeing place, eather i was really sick or was really cold. its normal

Tesrider1, Community Member
12/ 3/11 8:42pm
Wow I am about to turn thirty and I have just started doing this. It does not seem to disturb my sleep but it worries me because I fear I'm doing it out if necessity such as poor circulation. Reply
Megan, Community Member
9/23/09 1:49am

I'm up late researching this, as my husband does this as well.  He is 34 (and a Capricorn  :)  Sometimes it's one leg, sometimes it's both.  I usually use my foot to slide his legs back down.  But he also lifts his arms into the air - sometimes just holding them there, but usually he puts his hand on his forehead, elbow in the air.  Sometimes it's just arms, or legs, or both.  I worry that this disturbes his sleep, as he does have a sleep disorder - but I don't think it's related to this behavior.  It's more disturbing for me, as when his arms fall, they often fall on me.  I don't recall him doing this years ago though, and am wondering if it could be stress-related?  Has anyone noticed if this behavior occurs when you are stressed?

FL2NC, Community Member
2/26/11 1:35am

I am similiar to your husband.  I sleep on my back, but usually find myself with one leg held straiht up to the ceiling from the hip and or one arm.  Would to love to know why.   I'm tired all the time and have done it for years.  Iyt not painful, but usual comfortable.   What do they called this condition?

Lindsey, Community Member
10/13/09 3:09am

i hold my hands on my stomach and only have one leg up in the air. i fall asleep on my stomach. i seem to toss and turn for awhile before i end up on my back. i have been diagnosed with a couple sleep disorders- insomnia- but is not too bad now and sleep delayed phase syndrome. capricorn :-)

hhmmmzone, Community Member
1/20/11 1:04am

I straighten my 10 year old daughter's legs every night when I check on her.   I always have thought it would just be bad circulation for her legs and not fully rested sleep.  I just actually came out the room and thought I would google I basically do everything to start investigating....... 


   The most startling thing is the coincidence that she too, is an Aquarian. VERY interesting to me, after seeing the comments.....

Racheezy, Community Member
3/ 4/11 11:43pm

I have the same habit, I can't sleep without my knees bent up and pertaining to an earlier comment I also like my arms above my head. The most interesting tidbit of information I've found out about this was from my yoga instructor (I asked b/c I also like to bend my knees up in yoga when we are supposed to be lying with legs down) and she said it's either a habit or eases back pain/discomfort. So if any of you have lower back pain that may be it, otherwise I think it is likely just a strange habit possibly learned from an early age.

Red, Community Member
6/ 4/11 9:12pm

It may be Periodic Limb Movement Disorder. This is a link to Web MD. Hope this helps someone. Smile


Brittylee, Community Member
11/ 3/11 4:26am
I do the exact same thing(Aries) with my knees and hands my bf has told me I'm 21 and since I've been aware of this my back and knees throb Reply
NSU77, Community Member
12/31/11 8:57am

I was diagnosed with periodic limb movement disorder earlier this year after my husband discovered that my legs tremor during the night. I had a sleep study done to confirm the diagnosis. Sometime later this year, my husband noticed that I frequently sleep on my back with my knees bent. I mainly notice this, because I often wake up in this position and my legs ache. I have wondered if this is related to PLMD.

totemic, Community Member
12/ 6/11 8:21pm

Count me in as another one who sleeps on their back with their knees up!

I was also unaware of this until I got married, and my husband informed me. While he thought it was weird at first, he doesn't mind it and lets me stay like that, when I get in that position.


I will agree with what someone else said - my legs and butt ache the mornings after I sleep like this. But I figure it's like working out in my sleep!


Also, I'm a scorpio, so definitely nothing to do with your sign ;)

FLAWLESSVW, Community Member
1/11/12 11:10pm

35/M/Gemini LOL... I thought for sure I wouldn't find ANYTHING online about this.  My wife tells me I do this all night.  My legs, butt and back feel like I ran a marathon in the morning and I'm in pain all day and I'm like a zombie.  I can't imagine one could be fully asleep while doing this.


I do suffer from lower back pain.  I may be pulling my legs up to comfort the back pain.  Whatever this is, it needs to be corrected.  It is like torture, and the couple of docs I've told haven't had much response.

1oldtrucker, Community Member
2/11/12 8:10am

It is a subconscious sexual need.  Try getting laid before bedtime and you will sleep like a baby...and so will hubby.

Stacyanne, Community Member
3/ 9/12 11:25pm
Here is a video of someone doing the pointing up elbow thing during their sleep: It's funny! Reply
Stef, Community Member
3/24/12 8:41pm
This is very strange. I'm 17 and a Taurus and I lucid dream which means I'm awake but still dreaming which is how I know I do this. I, too, lie on my back with my legs bent with my feet laying flat, and I also do the arm thing (resting my hand on my head with my elbow elevated in the air) but I find it very relaxing when I do this.I am in also no pain when I wake up and I did read in comments before that it could be due to back ache, although I don't have back ache, I do suffer from bad hips. I done this last night and was curious about it as I've been aware that I have done this once before, so decided to Google it but couldn't find any information about it apart from this forum. I'm not too sure if my legs manage to fall through the night in order for me to put the back into the upright position as no one has ever told me that I do before. There should be more information about this on the Internet as I want to know more about it! Reply
Nejra, Community Member
10/21/12 1:09pm

I'm also turning 17 in a few months, and also a Taurus. I've woken up with my knees bent, and when I wake up my knees just feel weird.. However I've also noticed that this has started ever since I began my Junior Year, which is notoriously known in my school for being the hardest year. I think that it comes from stress, but also from sitting in school and at home too much (with my knees bent) while doing homework, essays, etc. I just hope it stops after this year :/

ABC, Community Member
11/27/13 1:29pm

Just so you know, that is not actually what lucid dreaming is. Lucid dreaming is when you are actually asleep and actually dreaming, but you are able to be aware of the fact that you are dreaming and control what happens. What you're describing may be closer to awareness during sleep paralysis. This happens when you are still in the REM stage of sleep, and therefore dreaming, but you wake up. During REM, your muscles are paralyzed except for your eyes. People often have visual/auditory/olfactory/tactile hallucinations, too, because the brain is still sending those random messages that create dreams.


Anyway, I also sleep with my knees up, and they fall on my boyfriend and wake him up. It's interesting to me that it seems to be a pretty common thing. It's also hilarious that so many people seem to think it may be related to their astrological sign.

Bentkneedboyfriend, Community Member
6/ 2/12 8:56pm
Hey everyone! My boyfriend does this and he is 20 years old. The "getting laid before sleep" solution does not work (from personal observations). Guys, how long are your legs relative to your height? His legs are short for his height and I wonder whether sleeping like this might have caused it (or reasoned). If you feel uncomfortable calling your legs short just state if they are long. Thanks! Reply
Unkempt, Community Member
6/ 7/12 1:03pm
My girlfriend is constantly agitated by me doing the knee thing. She either tries to straighten them out or wakes me because she can't get away from my legs falling on her. I'm 6'1" and have fairly long legs so I don't think its related to leg length. Also a Virgo so not the sign thing either. I don't suffer from any chronic pain, but sometimes feel like I need to stretch out my back when I wake in the morning. Would love to know if there's a solution so my girlfriend can sleep at night. Reply
UnkemptGF, Community Member
6/ 8/12 3:38am
If you don't find a solution I will continue to kick you as many times as it takes to get you to roll over. Hard. Reply
Unkempt, Community Member
6/ 8/12 3:44am
No Reply
flightrisk, Community Member
6/21/12 9:32am

I am desperate for a solution. If I don't find one, my wife will stop sleeping with me. Most (but not all) nights, I bend my knees. I can even cross my legs as if sitting, with me on my back, one leg bend with my foot on the sheets and the other leg crossed over my knee! I usually have no idea I am doing this. What irritates my wife is that my heels slip against the sheet. So rather than my knees falling over, my heels slide as if my legs are trying to go straight again and I catch it and jerk it back up. I usually feel her kick my legs and I wake up. My 8 year old daughter also does this. It usually only happens in the summer months when I kick the sheets off from me. The weight of a quilt seems to help. I am wondering about not enough leg activity during the day or going to bed too late being part of it. I'm going to test it out.

T.W, Community Member
6/23/12 7:48pm

I do this too! I'm the only one in the family as far as I know. I'm a leo, turning 16. I wake up in the middle of the night to find myself doing this but i'm not sure if my knees fall over? I thought it was quite weird, I found myself doing it last night and finally decided I would try to figure out what it means. 

Gt, Community Member
8/ 2/12 5:20am
I really thought I was the only one in the world to sleep like this I'm so glad to find out there's others. As for me it is very comfortable sleeping position & is the quickest way for me to fall asleep. Others find it weird but I think it's just unique. Reply
Noelle, Community Member
8/16/12 1:39am
The natural solution to this seems to be to sleep with pillows under your knees. It will keep your legs in the position that your body is naturally putting them in, but without using any muscles to hold them up. It would also solve the "leg-falling" problem our couples are suffering from. Try it! Reply
Jkk, Community Member
10/11/12 11:02pm

Hi everyone,


I have recently been sleeping with my knees up, too.  Incidentally, it all began when I needed to leave graduate school and move back home to take care of my father who was dying from cancer.  For 2-3 months I was living at home and basically spending my time in sitting positions, i.e. while sitting with my dad watching movies, spending time with him (he was bedridden at that point), and whenever I wasn't with him I'd just be sitting at my computer or watching tv on the couch.  I didn't really go out or spend time exercising.  To make matters worse, when I'd go to sleep I would put a pillow under my knees, as it just wasn't comfortable for me to sleep with my legs straight.


After my father died, I moved away to live with my boyfriend and I told him that it was uncomfortable to sleep with my legs straight.  A week later he tells me that he will wake up and see me sleeping with my legs bent.  This threw me off because I had never done that before.  It also disturbed me because when I was back home with my father, he would always be laying there on the bed with his knees bent.  My family would tell him that he needed to stretch his legs out in order to prevent cramping, but that was very painful for him to do.  He was suffering from cachexia (wasting away) already, so his muscles were atrophying. 


It never occurred to me that perhaps I was going through this too..that my muscles were shortening.  I only realized this when my boyfriend told me that I probably have been sleeping like this because my hamstrings were shortening, from sitting all day and not walking around/exercising.  He also said that if I were to let this continue to happen I would eventually develop lower back problems.  No idea where he learned this from but that is why I love him! :)  We are both biology majors but I don't remember learning this specifically from anatomy/physiology, but he does do a lot of martial arts and weight lifting.  But it does really make sense if you think about it.


Basically our muscles adapt (in this case atrophy/shorten) because our bodies want to conserve energy.  It costs a lot of energy to maintain muscle, and if it is not in use, why should our bodies work to maintain it?  I looked up "hamstring shortening" on the web and found this website, which gives a good explanation:


I don't know if this is what everyone is suffering from, but hopefully for some it will explain what is going on.  With the elbow-bending, it could also be the same thing, just with your biceps experiencing the same shortening (sitting in front of computer or doing activities with your arms bent somehow).  What I would suggest is to simply do a bit of walking and stretching every day at the very least and to conscientiously try to sleep with your legs straight.  Do NOT sleep with a pillow under your knees as this will exacerbate the problem!


Btw, I'm a gemini.  Just wanted to put that in there ^ ^



LTT, Community Member
11/ 4/12 12:48am
Thank you! You are awesome. And please thank your wonderful boyfriend for me as well. I've had this problem for a month now. Except, unlike the others it brings me pain. Sleeping in this position brings me an enormous amount of pain. It cuts off my circulation and causes my legs to go dead. (I have back problems) When I revive them I'm in lots of pain. What you said makes total sense. When I was younger I was very active. I decided to get back into shape. One month ago I began running, doing aerobics and weightlifting again. Just as I use to. Unfortunately I haven't begun tap, ballet or the major amounts of stretching that goes with dancing. Apparently the amount of stretching I am doing isn't enough. I'll do more stretching starting tonight and I'll start ballet tomorrow. It's a good thing I have everything I need for ballet. Thank you. I knew I needed to stretch and I was planning on starting ballet again, but not so soon. Now, it's a priority! Not that it matters, but I'm a Cancer, for what it's worth. :) Reply
Ellie may, Community Member
12/12/12 3:12pm
It a sleeping mainly happens with back problems,it a more comfortable position for people with back problems. Reply
macaeral, Community Member
12/18/12 8:00pm

Here's yet another person who has this problem of the knees falling over during sleep.  It feels very comfortable to me, and I also usually sit on the couch with my knees bent beside me.  The sleeping situation bothers my husband and he is always pushing my knees down or away.  I can say that I do have lower back problems.  I have heard that tight hamstrings can cause lower back pain because they pull on the lower back.  Still, it doesn't seem to make sense that we keep letting them fall and pulling them back up again!  I have noticed that my daughter does this as well, and sometimes sleeps with one leg crossed on top of the other.  I wonder if we did really good stretching before bed if we'd have the same problem?  Would sure like to know how to fix it!

Spastic Jo, Community Member
1/ 8/13 12:50am
I have had this same sleep problem, nightly, for as long as my husband has known me (>15 years). Ironically I've gone in for 2 sleep studies, and both times I slept like a log. Go figure. But the studies did reveal that I have Sleep Apnea (or more specifically upper airway resistance syndrome). The sleep specialist thought that maybe I'm adjusting my body in response to sleep apnea episodes. But even after using a CPAP for 2 months, I continue to raise and drop my knees and/or elbows in my sleep. In following on to the "tight quadriceps" theory, I wonder if it has to do with the chronic tightness and trigger points in my psoas and pectoral muscles. Reply
Father Virgo, Community Member
2/19/14 11:23pm

Hopefully this one goes through after registering.  Last one I type otherwise.


I disagree that this is normal because my eight year old son used to also sleep like this.  But now, as of a week, he sleeps like a baby.  On top of his knees being in the air I noticed his hands were folded across his chest and at times his lips would be chapped...even white! 


Like most of you I just pushed down his knees at first and thought it was a kid thing being my first eight year old.  Once I used my common sense and noticed that he was in the fetal position or "body survival mode" I took action.  




1.  Glass of water before bed.


2.  I have shown him how to stretch his legs and bodybefore going to sleep. I massaged his legs the first two nights.


You see, my little creative genius or Aquarius son, has a busy mind and forgets to drink his fluids.  Don't rule out the sun signs.  They can tell you a great deal at times.  


Hope this helps atleast one person,


Virgo  (The analyst and unsung hero of the zodiac)

Father Virgo, Community Member
2/19/14 11:25pm

In other  

Father Virgo, Community Member
2/19/14 11:57pm

Last one...if you are experiencing stress or anxiety you might find it difficult to eat or drink causing de-hydration or lack of nourishment, which in turn will cause stress on the body.  You might even find that you have headaches on top of the muscle tension when sleeping.  Seeking a psychiatrist and psychologist can go miles for your mental health speaking from experience.  When mentally sound your body should follow pursuit, especially if you are able to work out.  I used to be on anxiety medication until I started working out heavily.  Working out increased my endorphins and I actually forgot to take my medicaiton for two days...because I just didn't need it.  The working out/endorphins released the built up anxiety.  




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By Blar, Community Member— Last Modified: 05/21/14, First Published: 09/17/08