Ray Romano has a good bit about bed-sharing that has wormed its way into my brain. In it, he laments about how, upon moving in with his wife, he blew the big which-side-of-the-bed-is-yours?-sleeping-arrangement decision that all couples have and is now forced to watch TV in bed with her big toe blocking his view for the remainder of his life.
This joke isn’t all that funny, but it’s memorable because it hits at a cohabitation ritual all couples have: finding and sticking to their personal plot of mattress. We humans are creatures of habit, after all, and prefer to have our side of the bed staked out. We have our particular pillows and personal night stands on which sit stacks of bedtime reading, glasses of water, charging cords, and whatever else we need or prefer within arm’s reach. It’s normal for all couples to nest like this.
Or at least that’s what I always thought. This weekend, the Washington Post’s Jeff Stein sent out this tweet that sent me into a spiral of anxiety.
Several months ago, a couple we are friends with said they don’t sleep on the same side of the bed every night. As in, every night when they get into bed, they don’t know who will sleep on which side. Still blows my mind
— Jeff Stein (@JStein_WaPo) July 27, 2019
This couple sleep on a different side every night? That means, as he said, they go into the bedroom not knowing on which side they will sleep that evening. Up is down. Left is right. Calamity.
For the record, I think this idea is completely insane. I would not be able to deal with this arrangement for a week, let alone for the majority of my adult life. I have my side of the bed (right, closest to the front door) and my routine to go along with it. Perhaps this says too much about me, but if my wife were to be on my side of the bed one night I would not be okay with it. My side of the bed is, well, my side of the bed. I have my stuff there and my pre-bed rituals that revolve around said stuff. If either of us wanted to switch sides, we would have to have a pretty serious discussion about it, with pros and cons, before it happened. Sleeping is a ritual and, to me, that ritual is sacred.
But, I wondered, am I alone in feeling this way? So I asked some Fatherly staffers to weigh in. Here’s what they said.
I have long created a justification in my head for taking a side of the bed, like a personally approved side of bed feng shui. I always used to tell myself that I was the protector — and I took the door side in case of intruders. My wife can sleep better knowing that they’ll kill me first (I guess?). Then we had the baby. And with that came breastfeeding. And it wasn’t as practical. So now I sleep on the window side. Still, I sometimes tell myself I’m protecting her from the cold of the air conditioner. But really, it’s just practical and now I’m used to it and once the breastfeeding stopped … well, why would we think about changing it up? — Tyghe Trimble, Editorial Director
This is craziness. I’ve changed sides with my wife before. But it is usually a momentous situation that requires at least a day of conversation followed by a day of preparation and weeks of check-ins and adjustment. — Patrick Coleman, Parenting Editor
I am shocked. I’ve never heard of such a thing. — Amy Karafin, Managing Editor
Switching sides is pure lunacy for one reason alone: Do these people not have their own clock/phone charger/medicine/glass of water/remote controls/whatever on their own nightstand? Do they pick up their nightstands and switch them around, too? — Chris Boylan, VP of Engineering
This setup is for the truly adventurous in bed. It takes a certain person to handle that. I sleep on the side of my bed closest to the wall. My wife doesn’t like to sleep there, so I do. But it means when I come in later than my wife I have to hug the wall and slide into bed like a spy. — Evan Kaufman, Producer
The idea strikes me as very strange. But, when I think back about the times we sleep in a hotel room or somewhere else that’s not our bed, our sleeping-side convention does get thrown out the window. So maybe it’s not so strange? — Anne Meadows, Visuals Editor
It’s not like I would die if I slept on a different side of the bed. But isn’t sleep hygiene all about having a particular habit? I sleep better on my side of the bed. These people are weirdos. — Lizzy Francis, Staff Writer
My wife likes to sleep on the side of the bed close to the window, so since we’ve moved a few times so has the side of the bed she’s ultimately slept on. I personally don’t have a preference but you do have all of your chargers and such on your nightstand so that makes it a hassle to switch. However, if my wife leaves in the morning before I wake up, I will starfish and take the whole bed. — William Wilkerson, Developer
So, it seems that I am not alone in thinking about this arrangement. Kudos to this adventurous couple. But if you come for my side of the bed, you better have a damn good reason.