After a vacation or a break from school, it can be tough to get back into your usual daily routine. If you get used to sleeping in late, getting up early for work or school might make you feel more tired than usual.
If being tired makes you grumpy, someone may accuse you of having gotten up on the wrong side of the bed. Has a friend or family member ever told you that? What does it even mean?
If you’re like most people, you probably sleep on — and get up on — the same side of the bed every day. How can it be the right side one day but the wrong side on another day?
Getting up or waking up on the wrong side of the bed is a common saying that simply means you start off the day feeling tired, unhappy, uncomfortable or grumpy. If you wake up rested, happy and ready to tackle the day, then you definitely got up or woke up on the right side of the bed. Some kids might argue that, on Mondays, there’s no right side of the bed!
These sayings, whose meanings aren’t clear from the words themselves, are called idioms. There are many idioms in the English language. Their meanings and origins are as unique as the phrases themselves.
It’s unclear exactly how the idiom “getting up on the wrong side of the bed” came about. There are a few theories, though.
For example, in the late 19th century, E. Cobham Brewer published Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. He claimed the saying came about as the result of an old superstition that it was unlucky to get out of bed with your left leg first.
This superstition appears to have arisen in Ancient Rome, where many Romans, including Augustus Caesar, were careful always to get out of bed on the right side. This fit with other superstitions of the time that held that the left side was unlucky. Some people even believed that it was bad luck to put on your left shoe first!
Others believe that this idiom, like several others that involve the phrase “the wrong side,” merely reflects the fact that there are positive and negative aspects of any situation. Some people believe that when you get up in the morning, you can choose to have a good day or you can let stress and worries get the best of you.
But is it possible that there’s actually a right and a wrong side of the bed? Some people think that there is.
For example, some sleep scientists rely on psychology to conclude that the left side of the bed is right and the right side of the bed is wrong. They know that the left side of the brain controls logic and rational thought, while the right side of the brain controls emotion and imagination. If you get out of bed on the left side, they believe that you may focus your energy on logic and stay away from volatile emotions.
Experts in Feng Shui (pronounced fung shway) — the Ancient Chinese practice of placing items in certain positions to be in harmony with their environment — also believe that it is best to get out of bed on the left side. They believe this because Feng Shui associates the left side of the bed with family, health, money and power.
What do you think? Is there a right and a wrong side of the bed? Whatever you believe, one thing is true: even if you get up on the wrong side of the bed, you can try your hardest to turn a frown upside down and make the most of your day!