Mirrors are a mainstay of many bedrooms, providing us with a place to brush hair, apply makeup, check outfits, and more. It’s important to know where to place a mirror for maximum impact, as the wrong positioning can disturb your sleep.
It’s not advisable to sleep next to a mirror or to have a reflective surface facing your bed. Light bouncing off mirrors can keep you awake at night, startle you or your pets, and even be responsible for hallucinations and sound echoes. Always move or cover your mirrors overnight.
The relationship between mirrors and sleep is equal parts spiritual and scientific, so there are many reasons to avoid exposing yourself to reflective surfaces overnight. Always consider the proximity of mirrors when arranging bedroom furnishings.
Is it Bad to Have a Mirror Facing Your Bed?
According to the principles of feng shui, sleeping with a mirror next to your bed is a disaster.
If you’re unfamiliar with feng shui, it’s an eastern philosophy dedicated to strategically placing furnishings and belongings in the home to maximize balance.
The Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine describes feng shui as “therapy for the new millennium,” though naturally, it’s a personal choice whether you agree.
The basic philosophy of feng shui is as follows:
- Every room has a commanding position, which is the area where you’ll spend the most time. In the bedroom, this will be your bed.
- The commanding position should be as far away from the door as possible, ideally at a diagonal angle with a clear line of sight.
- The rules of feng shui involve balancing five elements: fire, water, wood, earth, and metal.
Mirrors represent water in this ideology – formless and reflective. Feng shui practitioners strongly advise against keeping mirrors by a bed for the following reasons:
- Sleeping facing a reflection increases the likelihood of nightmares.
- Allowing a reflection to face your bed invites a third person into a relationship, leading to strife.
- Mirrors can drain personal energy and élan, causing insomnia.
To some, feng shui is an essential guiding principle in home decor.
Alternatives Locations for A Mirror
Before we move on from the philosophies of feng shui, we should be clear – mirrors aren’t considered problematic in general. We just need to think carefully about where they’re placed.
Instead of beside your bed, apply mirrors to a bedroom using these criteria:
- Use square or rectangular-shaped mirrors when possible.
- Hang the mirror on a North or East-facing wall, ideally perpendicular to a wall. Never hang a mirror on a South facing wall.
- Avoid hanging mirrors over sofas or chairs, though facing them is fine.
- Avoid mirrors that obscure or distort your reflection or reflect in disconnected pieces, such as a mosaic.
If you abide by these guidelines, you’ll enjoy a balanced and harmonious energy flow throughout your home. This should, naturally, lead to a comfortable and satisfying night of sleep.
Why Is It Bad to Sleep Next To A Mirror?
We could easily spend hours extolling theories laid out by feng shui practitioners as to why we should never sleep next to a mirror. Now, though, feels like a good time to move away from philosophy and into the realm of science.
Regardless of whether you believe in and adopt the practices of feng shui in your everyday life, sleep professionals will also recommend avoiding a mirror by your bed – or facing it, such as on a ceiling.
When preparing the layout of a bedroom, consider the location of your bed and any mirrors as thoroughly as you consider color schemes for the walls.
Sleeping next to a mirror is invited any light that hits this surface to reflect into your eyes.
When light hits a mirror, it bounces back at the same angle. If you can’t keep your bedroom 100% pitch dark at night, this will become an issue.
Slight slithers of light can cause havoc, such as streetlamps peeking through closed curtains. Unless you have blackout blinds, you’ll likely face at least some light pollution.
The idea of a little light may not seem like the end of the world at first, but it can become an issue.
It’s 6 am, the alarm has woken you, and you reluctantly lift your head from the pillow to shut it off. As you do so, you jump out of your skin – you’ve been exposed to your reflection before you’ve even had time to rub the sleep from your eyes.
This isn’t to besmirch your appearance in the morning. It’s a fact that anybody is likely to be startled by any such vision. Our eyes need a few moments to adapt from night vision to natural daylight when we wake up. A mirror reflection can be quite the wake-up call.
Looking at your reflection in dim lighting can play tricks on the eyes, forcing you to see an unfamiliar visage looking back at you.
Sometimes, these illusions will be distorted reflections of our own visage. Some people also claim to see visions of supernatural beings, deceased family members, and all manner of other sights. All of these hallucinations will doubtless upset sleepiness.
According to Consciousness and Cognition, this is known as the Strange Face in the Mirror Illusion. These are essentially hallucinations – hardly something that will encourage a peaceful and restful night of sleep. You could give yourself quite a fright.
Of course, it’s sometimes essential to look in a mirror with dim lighting. When planned, you’ll be prepared for what you see. Peering into a mirror beside a bed, mainly due to spacial logistics, make a hallucination much likelier.
Echoes of Sound
It’s not just light that reflects when it hits a mirror. The same applies to soundwaves. This will only apply if you sleep right beside a mirror. However, if you have a reflective surface next to your bed, any noise you make will be bounced straight back toward you.
This will be problematic for light sleepers, especially if you’re prone to snoring or sleep apnea. You may be able to sleep through the noise you make, but imagine if the din was doubled.
A partner that shares a bed may initially welcome the idea of snorers getting a taste of their own medicine, but they too will suffer. Mirrors will basically replay snoring in stereo.
Consider the impact of sleeping close to a mirror on any pets in your room. It’s inadvisable to sleep with a dog on your bed anyway, as this will likely disturb your slumber. Mirrors make this even likelier.
Cats and dogs often mistake their reflection for conspecifics, especially when young. This will cause significant excitement for your pet. A cat may grow territorial and attack the reflection or flee, while a dog may start barking and attempt to interact.
If all of this unfolds on your bed, you’ll be woken by the din at best. There is also a pronounced risk that you’ll be scratched or bitten in any subsequent melee. The risk simply isn’t worth taking.
Should You Cover Your Mirror at Night?
Sometimes, it’s impossible to avoid sleeping next to a mirror.
Perhaps you have recently moved home and have yet to redecorate or are staying with a friend or family member. Hotels may also have mirrors by beds, though they should know better.
Whatever the reason, you don’t need to suffer the impact of sleeping beside a mirror. Cover the surface before attempting to sleep, and you’ll likely have a more restful night. The same applies to other reflective services, such as TV screens.
The easiest way to cover a mirror is by draping fabric over it. If the mirror is small, a scarf or item of clothing like a sweater will usually do the trick. Larger or full-length mirrors will need something equally substantial as cover, such as a bath towel or coat.
How about longer-term solutions? You may live in rented accommodation, for example, that contains a wardrobe with large, mirrored doors. Removing the closet will not be an option. Consider wallpapering over the mirrors if you can’t place the bed anywhere else.
One final option could be to obscure the mirror with frosted glass. This can usually be purchased from hardware stores with sticky-backed plastic, easily applied and removed as necessary. Just remember that this still falls foul of feng shui advice, if that matters to you.
It doesn’t really matter if you believe in ancient philosophies about a room’s energy flow or not, as there’s enough evidence to back up the impact reflective surfaces have on the ability to sleep.
For quality rest, keep your bed away from mirrors or cover them before retiring for the night.