Breast cancer lesson number 82: Why it’s time to get out of the right side of bed… if you can find it!

There is such a thing as the wrong side of the bed. For me, it’s the right side and I’ve been on it for 68 nights. Cancer kicked me over there when it decided to attack my right breast and lymph nodes. The PICC line on my left tried to get me reinstated, but cancer won through. Last night, however, I moved back.

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Apart from the fact I can’t really sleep on it, new boobie no longer needs the level of protection granted to it by being close to the edge of the bed. That means, the clip attached to my PICC line (that if unclipped by mistake could cause blood to flow freely out of mind arm) is now out of harm’s reach and I am back to where I belong – near the door, near the wardrobe and close to all my notebooks and belongings. I was never really far away, but by just moving a metre to the left, I feel at home once more. It’s another small milestone that has brought a big smile to my face.

Interestingly, the question as to whether or not the left side is, in fact, the official ‘right’ side of the bed on which to sleep, has led to a surprising number of column inches over the years. I believe the idiom ‘to get out on the wrong side of the bed’ dates back to Roman times, when it was considered bad luck to get out from the left (maybe that’s where I’ve been going wrong!).

That said, in recent years, a bit of probably-not-very-robust-but-I-like-it research from hotel chain Premier Inn, has tried to give the left side a stay of execution. The group’s study (dating back to 2012) found that two-thirds of people who sleep on the left side of the bed believe themselves to be calmer and more confident than their sleeping partner. Of its findings, Premier Inn went on to say: “The research clearly indicates a pattern between which side of the bed you sleep on and the mood you wake up in. Left sleepers are more cheerful, appear to enjoy life slightly more and have a more positive attitude to the day ahead than right sleepers.”

This is further supported by an entertaining earlier study combining psychology and Feng Shui. Because the left side of the brain uses logic and rational thought (and the right, emotion and imagination), Feng Shui associates the left side of the bed with family, health, money and power. The idea is that by getting out on the left from a lying down position you focus your energies towards logic and away from stress. Does this mean that as a ‘leftie’ I am more likely to remember to read the gas meter, but I might not get the colour scheme for the hallway right? Not sure I like that logic!

The only trouble is – and something I find highly amusing – there seems to be no real agreement as to which side of the bed is left and which side right. The Premier Inn research states that the survey is based on someone standing at the foot of the bed. Why would they be standing at the foot of the bed I ask? And in what direction are they looking? As far as I am concerned, if my right side is closest to the edge, it’s the right side of the bed. And, if no one can decide, it just means the ‘right’ side is the one you choose to sleep on!

While I like to think that my preference adds a positive start to my day, the key thing is, it’s my preference (and probably that of millions of others in the world). And, thankfully, it’s not Duncan’s. After all, if there were a universal ‘right’ side that affected our psychological well-being, no one would want to share a bed.

Regardless of which bit of your brain falls out of bed first, it seems that choosing (and sleeping on) ‘your right side’ (and not that of the research scientists) does help you get a good night’s sleep. It’s probably all in the mind (and not the Feng Shui), but given sleep is supposed to support everything from weight management and mood to memory and your body’s ability to heal, it’s not something I’ll be moving away from again in a hurry! Take note cancer.

Sleep tight tonight and I hope you aren’t one of the 10%* of couples (*again according to Premier Inn, so please apply a pinch of salt) that likes to argue about the taking of sides. If so, I may have just fuelled the fight!

NB: I’d like to say you need to know your left from your right to be able to unpick this blog post. But now, I’m not even sure that matters!

3 comments

  1. I like this meditation about sides of the bed: what does it mean when my husband and I have ‘sides’ at home but opposite ‘sides’ on holiday, I wonder?
    Hoping you’re ok and enjoying the sunshine.
    Lucy x

  2. Ha ha! I think it means you are comfortable wherever you are, which can only be a good thing. I got home from a two-day event yesterday to find Duncan had invaded my side! Not sure what to think of that. J x

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