General Question

canidmajor's avatar

Which side of the bed is it?

Asked by canidmajor (13467points) September 22nd, 2017

When you refer to the left or right side of the bed (as when someone asks “What side of the bed do you sleep on?”), how do you determine which is the left or right side? Do you stand at the foot, facing the bed, and decide that way? Do you lie on your back on the bed and decide that way? Is there a standard way of determination?

Such a conundrum!!!

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32 Answers

rebbel's avatar

I would say if I sit up in bed, my back against the head board, facing my toes, and my girlfriend is on the right of me, I’m on the left.
I’m driving, so to speak.
And in the Netherlands we drive on the right side of the road.
The right side.

funkdaddy's avatar

I’ve always thought of it as what you see standing at the foot of the bed.

But I sleep on my belly, so there isn’t a natural alternative.

JLeslie's avatar

I think about it from the perspective of lying on my back in bed. Similar to in America the driver’s side of a car is the left side (the perspective of actually sitting in the car) and the left side of my body is my left, not the perspective of the person looking at me.

If someone asked me what side of the bed I sleep on, my answer would include what perspective I’m answering from to make sure it’s clear.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

That is a bit of a brain twister, I always thought it was from laying in the bed on your back with your head at the head board, but now I am not sure, thanks a lot!

canidmajor's avatar

Sorry, @SQUEEKY2! :-D I could never figure out how to answer, in a way I’m glad there’s not a standard, I was feeling a bit uninformed…

chyna's avatar

I always sleep on the side closest to the door so it depends on the door, not the bed. Thought I’d throw in another wrench.

janbb's avatar

My brain aches – as Charley Brown used to say.

But I would probably say it is facing from the headboard in which case I sleep – in the middle now!

Muad_Dib's avatar

I’d use stage directions. I sleep on the left side from the observer’s perspective.

SergeantQueen's avatar

My bed is right against the wall. I sleep right against the wall..

Zissou's avatar

Arr, ‘tis starboard and port, just like a ship. (Aye, even though the “head” of the bed is not where the “head” of a ship would be.)

zenvelo's avatar

Right or left is determined by which way an object is facing, not by the observer. So if one’s back is to the headboard you are facing away from the bed, and the right side of the bed is to your right.

Same as a car. The right side of the car is not to your right as you face it, but to the right as you sit in it facing the same way as the car. See @rebbel above.

LostInParadise's avatar

And just which way does a bed face? Is the headboard in the front or in the back?

Right or left depends on the situation. If I am in the bed, then the right side is to my right from the usual reclining position. If I am cleaning the room, the right side is to my right when facing the bed. This problem is avoided with respect to cars by talking about driver side and passenger side.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

It’s the side closest to the door, and the other side is closest to the window.


I have windows at the head, too…



rebbel's avatar

@LostInParadise And if you are vacuuming the floor next to the right side of the bed, the bed is on the left.
Except when you turn around.

CWOTUS's avatar

The best way to refer to the sides of a bed, in my opinion, would be to refer to them as “port” and “starboard”. Of course, then we’d have to agree on “bow” and “stern” to orient the port and starboard sides. Since that is unlikely to occur any time soon, I prefer to refer to the sides as “my side” and “your side”.

LostInParadise's avatar

To see how confusing things can get if we think of things from an object’s point of view, consider a drawer in a cabinet. We ordinarily speak of the left side and right side with respect to where our left and right hands are when we face it, but we refer to the front as being the side that that is closest to us. That would be contradictory from the drawer’s point of view.

canidmajor's avatar

@LostInParadise, and therein lies the core of confusion. Nicely put. :-)

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

I agree with @CWOTUS. The bow of the bed is the head, that is logical. Port and Starboard are determined from there as if you were standing at the wheel at the foot of the bed, facing 000° relative.

Otherwise, I would specify anatomical left or right (to chyna, rarebear, LuckyGuy and other people familiar with medical terminology, and graphic artists like ragingloli and Mimi.)

Or you could say House Left or House Right, or Stage Left or Stage Right (to Strauss, BellaB and other people familiar with the performing arts).

It helps to know the inquirer’s background.

Zissou's avatar

^Yarr, no, the bow is at the foot, and it don’t matter what yer heading is. I assume that were a typo on yer part, since I know ye be no lubber.

See here:

(google “boat bed” for many more)

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

^^LOL. I guess you’re right. It’s not the first time my perspective has been at odds with the rest of the world’s. I learned something new.

But I do maintain, in my own defense, that the “Head” of something denotes the forwardmost projecting portion, that would be the bow in my book, and when one stands at the wheel, they are facing toward the bow. But I am far too old now to fight the world about such things, even when I believe it to be wrong—besides there are many other important battles yet to fight. So, when speaking to landlubbers and bedmakers, I’ll remember your lesson and refer to the foot of the bed as the bow in the hope of being better understood.

canidmajor's avatar

Ah, but if we’re talking bunks that will house more than one matey, location aboard must be specified. On my 24’ Dutch built sloop, in the “honeymoon triangle” up forward, the feet nestled snugly in the bow, while in the dinette-converted-to-double-bunk, there was a removable panel for the feet to tuck into and the sleepers’ heads were toward the bow.
My dad had a 53’ broad-ass ketch with a double berth going abeam, tucked neatly up against the transom.
Orientation defines which is what and where.

CWOTUS's avatar

That’s why I didn’t try to go there, @Espiritus_Corvus.

canidmajor's avatar

OMG, @Zissou, those are fabulous!

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

@CWOTUS. Aye, Skipper, we sailors—you and I—know many truths unavailable to the land dwellers, which often makes the gulf between us and they wide. It is sad for them, but we are a patient lot and, in order to get along on land, we sometimes nod a knowing yes to accommodate their sensitivities.

Muad_Dib's avatar

When I’m lying comfortably in my bed, I’m facing the foot of the bed, in horizontal position, but still. Likewise, when you’re sitting on an airplane, you’re facing forward. The forward part of the plane doesn’t become aft if your seat is reclined.

By that logic I claim the foot of the bed is forward, the “head” aft, and port and starboard are… whatever makes sense in that scenario (because I can never remember which is which)

janbb's avatar

@Muad_Dib An easy way to remember port is that it and left both have four letters in them. (I warn’t married to a sailor for 40 years for nothing.)

Zissou's avatar

@canidmajor Well now, if ye has a dinghy stowed aboard a ship, the bow and stern of the dinghy be what they be, however which way the dinghy be stowed in relation to the bow of the ship. Likewise with a bed.

@Muad_Dib Yer insight be widely shared, as these other bed-vehicles show:


better yet:
(google “bed race” for more such)

Aye, I know “talk like a pirate day” was 3 days ago.

Catnip5's avatar

My answer is like @zenvelo scenario. Especially if I were to face a wall/window or not.

As long as the sides of the bed I don’t try to sleep in is horizontally.

canidmajor's avatar

Ah, but @Zissou, my craft was too humble to sport a dinghy, my dad’s, however, had a dinghy in davits, parallel to the transom.

janbb's avatar

I love talking about dinghy davits!

filmfann's avatar

I have a sleep number bed. I the controls, the arrow pointing to the right side is the side you would be on, if you were laying down on your back and looking at the remote.
If you are adjusting the firmness of the mattress while on your stomach, you may have issues.

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