How do you choose your side of the bed cover
Open Thread: How Do You Choose Your Side of the Bed?
12.05.19

The loyalty I maintain toward a particular side of the bed stems from a long-standing tradition upheld by my small-bladdered, well-hydrated female forebears. Like my mother and my grandmother before her, I religiously sleep on the side closest to the bathroom. (I became particularly passionate about this cause after sleeping on the top bunk of a bunk bed the entirety of my senior year of high school, a situation that made nighttime trips to the toilet an exercise in… exercise.)

To be perfectly honest, I don’t even go to the bathroom that often during the night, but I have an admittedly neurotic need to fall asleep knowing that if I happen to experience an urge, I’ll be able to relieve it a solid 2-3 seconds quicker than I would if I were sleeping on the other side. Ergo, the whole time I lived alone, I slept on the bathroom-adjacent side of the bed without fail–even though my bed was queen-sized and could have accommodated any and all diagonal permutations–and I have continued to do so after moving in with my fiancé Austin. When I recently asked him if he had a preferred side, he said “the opposite side of whatever side you choose,” which is nice to the point of being offensive.

The reason I even inquired is because the topic came up when I was having dinner with some friends a week ago, all of whom had side-of-the-bed preferences for entirely different reasons from my own. We ended up ordering a second bottle of wine to facilitate our discussion, which basically consisted of each of us outlining a staunch defense of our respective predilections. Shortly thereafter, I poked the majestic journalistic resource that is Instagram with a series of related questions: Do you have a favorite side of the bed? If so, why? Do you maintain it regardless of whether you’re sleeping alone or with a partner? Et cetera.

I received 456 replies and counting, thus proving my burgeoning theory that bed-side preferences make for a fascinating anthropological study, if only because the differences in opinion ascribe to a degree of (potentially contentious) fanaticism akin to that of cilantro or the Kardashians. While surveying the data, I noted down the most common reasons people gravitated toward particular sides. Below, a small sampling of feedback from the multitude of responses, divided by standout side-preference categories:

The Side Furthest From the Door (Because: Intruders)

“I prefer the side closest to the door for spooky reasons, because if anyone (namely a ghost) were to break into the room, then my partner would get murdered first.”

“I sleep away from the door so when monsters come I’m not the first to get eaten. I share a bed with my husband, so he would get eaten first by said monsters.”

“I choose the side further from the door because it makes me feel safer.”

“I am VERY passionate about my side of the bed, which is always the side that is farthest away from the door. I listen to too many murder podcasts, okay?”

The Side Closest to the Door (Because: Also Intruders)

“I like to sleep closest to the door–more time to escape intruders!”

“Closest to door. My anxious little brain wants access to a quick escape in case anything goes awry.”

“I gravitate to the closest side to the door and always stick to it. Easy escape.”

I always sleep on the side which is nearest to the door of the room so that I can flee easily, or so that I can immediately defend my bed companion and myself in case of emergency.”

The Side Closest to the Outlets (Because: Electronics)

My boyfriend told me I had to be on a particular side because the other (a.k.a. his) side has an outlet so he can charge his phone while he looks through reddit in the middle of the night.”

I have to read every night before bed or I can’t sleep, so I need a bedside lamp. One side of the bed has an outlet, so that’s the one I picked. Not that deep.”

Closer to the phone charger plug! When I moved houses I switched bed sides for this reason (naturally rather than intentionally!)”

The Side Next to the Wall (Because: Coziness)

“I like to feel really snug, so if one side is next to a wall I squeeze into that corner as much as I can like a cat in a cardboard box. Even if I’m sleeping alone I need to be as far away from an entry (or the end of the bed) as possible. I have tried switching sides, it makes me feel really exposed and unsafe and end up switching back!”

“I like to create a cozy little nook for myself between my partner and the wall…I don’t like the feeling of the abyss next to me when I sleep.”

The Side Furthest From the Wall (Because: Claustrophobia)

“If a side of the bed is next to the wall, I want the side which is on the farther side. It just makes me feel at ease.”

“My bed is against a wall, and my partner is incredibly attached to the outer side. Maybe too attached.”

“Originally my boyfriend and I didn’t have sides when we first moved in together, but it quickly became apparent that I have to sleep in the outer part of the bed, opposite the wall. If I’m tucked away in the corner he snuggles so hard that my face smashes into the wall.”

The Side Closest to the Window (Because: Air Flow)

“In my current bed I chose my side based on its nearer proximity to my one bedroom window. I like to be cooler when I sleep.”

“I am passionate about my side of the bed, and my rockstar partner fully indulges my specific needs haha. As selfish as it sounds, I typically choose *the best* side of the bed—here in NYC that means next to the window a.k.a. the heat and A/C and light.”

“I always sleep closer to the window! I LOVE fresh air at night, while my partner would rather have our windows closed so this is our compromise. It’s the same when we are traveling.”

“I like to sleep closest to the window! I firmly believe in a cracked window year round, and I like to position myself closest to the fresh air.”

The Left Side or the Right Side, No Matter What (Because: Piercings, Injuries, or Disabilities)

I have some extra piercings on my left ear, like cartilage and tragus, that can hurt real bad if I sleep on ’em. So when I’m with my partner, I take the right side of the bed so I can lay on my right side so we can spoon!”

I am deaf in my right ear, so I prefer the left side of the bed. Before lights out, I can be turned to my husband and we can chat and flirt, and then when it’s time for lights out, I turn over and can’t hear anything. It’s perfection!”

“My boyfriend always picks the right side because he has an injured right shoulder and can only turn to face me on his left side.”

The Side Closest to the Bathroom (Because: Peeing)

“I am single and currently sleep in a twin bed, but last year for a solid 11 months I had a queen bed. After having a twin bed my whole life, I was at a loss with the enormity of the space I had to sleep on, but the answer of the side was simple: the one closet to the bathroom.”

I always feel the need to be closest to the bathroom, because I get up to pee a lot. So ‘my side of the bed’ always changes! It really doesn’t matter to me whether I’m alone or with someone, I just really get anxious if I have to go around the bed in the middle of the night to get to the bathroom.”

My husband likes to sleep on the side closest to the bathroom wherever we are because he uses the bathroom at night so many times…”

Close to the bathroom! A girl’s gotta pee!! I’m super passionate about it. Will not swap with my partner.”


There was a very small subset of people who claim to a) not care about their side of the bed or b) deliberately switch sides for fun. If you fall into either of these minorities, I urge you to donate your brains to science for further study. If you want to pledge your allegiance to one of the categories above, or if you deviate in some way, please sound off in the comments below. Now if you’ll excuse me, my side of the bed is calling.

Graphics by Coco Lashar.

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