The limb-numbness test is the perfect litmus test for deciphering how much I’m willing to sacrifice at the onset of a romantic relationship. For example: If I really like the person I’m spooning, I’m willing to go full numbness and sacrifice all feeling in my arm or leg, possibly permanently, just so that she can be as comfortable and close as humanly possible. Alternatively, if I’m, shall I say, having my doubts, she will be gently shoved onto the nearest pillow the moment I feel the slightest tingle in my fingertips.
Inevitably, once you’ve decided that this arm-number is your forever-partner, you’ll need to recalibrate and find strategies to deal with it. But before we go any further, it’s important to understand why this is happening in the first place. According to Healthline, the pins and needles sensation is known as paresthesia, and the cause is simple: “Temporary paresthesia is often due to pressure on a nerve or brief periods of poor circulation. This can happen when you fall asleep on your hand or sit with your legs crossed for too long.”
So what can you do to prevent your limbs from going numb when your partner (who you still (hopefully) are very much in love with) is sleeping on top of you? There is of course some practical advice brought to you by the ever-unintentionally hysterical wikiHow, which includes: Sliding your bottom arm behind you rather than placing it under your partner; sleeping on your back with your partner’s head resting on your arm or chest (but then you’re no longer spooning!); and my personal favorite — suffer in silence.
“If your partner is sleeping peacefully and your arm isn’t in too much agony, you might choose to wait it out. Sooner or later, he’s likely to shift positions, allowing you to free your arm. Loving relationships always entail sacrifices, and if you are able to offer one freely and without resentment, it can strengthen your bond.”
But let’s be real: I don’t care how much you love someone, on night four of week 12 that you’ve been sleeping with the same person, suffering in silence is a petri dish for resentment. So what’s another hack?
One redditor suggests laying your arm down on the bed itself and putting the pillow over your arm. “So that way, with a bit of maneuvering you have a pillow as a safety buffer from death-numbness,” he writes. Another redditor’s suggestion: Pretend you’re a tree and your partner is a koala. “We rep this one in our house! The tree lies down flat, the koala curls up on top of them.”
But again, it’s not exactly spooning if one of you has to play like a dead tree. Here then is another alternative: “You should keep your fingers and toes moving,” says Randy Champagne, an instructor at the Boulder Outdoor Survival School. “It’s much easier to hold on to some feeling in your body’s extremities before you lose complete blood flow to that extremity and all feeling in your fingers and toes.” Additionally, Champagne suggests using a heat pack on your hand, arm or near your feet. “As long as it’s not restricting the blood flow, it’ll help keep the blood flowing to your extremities,” he says.
So there you have it — if you’re too terrified to have a conversation with your significant other about death-numbness, you may want to sleep with a heat pack in your hand.