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!


54 Join the Discussion

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars  (17 votes, avg. 4.59 out of 5)
    • Hmmmmm. We think you have a VERY good guess there, Rahul! We bet you will be excited when you visit tomorrow’s Wonder, but we’ll have to see! Thanks for telling us what you thought about today’s Wonder, too! :-)

    • We can’t give you another hint, Tim, but we can say THANKS for visiting Wonderopolis! Check out Rahul’s comment above. He has a pretty good guess about tomorrow’s Wonder…it might help you with your own guess! :-)

  1. Hi my name is Barbara Dunkle. I live in Indianna. I live with a grandma, grandpa, 3 dogs, a brother named Mark Dunkle, a cousin named Sara Cooper, and 2 little uncles named Taylor and Matthew. The ages of the kids are 8, 7, 10, 10, and 11, and I also have a dad named Jim Dunkle. The names of dogs are Abby, Bandit, and Shyloh. I hope you have a nice day!!! :-)

    • Well, our day just got a whole lot nicer because we received this AMAZING comment from you, Barbara! Thank you so much for sharing about yourself and your family. We’re glad you’re a Wonder Friend and we can’t wait to read more comments from you on future Wonders of the Day! :-)

    • We bet your mood changes once you get up and get going, though, right, Dominique? We bet it gets even BETTER once you get to school and see all your WONDERful classmates and teachers, too, doesn’t it? Thanks for letting us know you liked this Wonder! :-)

  2. Funny video, so that was a interesting video and article, don’t you think so, too? But, he should have noticed it was a bad day when he only had 1 sock on.

    • We DO think today’s Wonder and video were super interesting, Timothy! We learned a BUNCH, and we hope you did, too! Thank you for sharing your comment with us today! :-)

    • That’s a really awesome guess, Tate! Thanks for visiting this Wonder and for using the clue to figure out what tomorrow’s Wonder might be about! We’ll all have to check back to see if you were right! :-)

  3. I think that if you wake up on the right side of the bed, it doesn’t matter because you can decide if you want a good or bad day. – Maddie
    I think my brain cells (sides) work together in the day to keep me up and at ‘em all day. If I was a brain cell, I would work as hard as I could all day to keep the person I was in up all day and to think all day. I think some people just don’t like to get up in the morning so that’s why people have the saying “you got up on the wrong side of the bed”.

    • We really like your thinking about today’s Wonder, Maddie and Mrs. Krupp Grade Three Class! Thank you so much for sharing this super special comment with us today! You are right…some people just aren’t morning people, and everyone CAN choose to have a good day or a bad day! :-)

    • Thanks for exploring this Wonder of the Day®, Hannah! There isn’t really a right side or wrong side of the bed. “Waking up on the wrong side of the bed” is just something people say when they want to describe someone (including themselves) who woke up feeling tired, unhappy, uncomfortable or grumpy. :-)

  4. We liked this video because we never know what side to wake up on. The wrong side of the bed can make us in a bad mood but now we know to get more sleep so we are not waking up on the wrong side of the bed. We also like how the video showed the boy having a good day and also having a bad day at the same time! Thanks for a WONDERful Wonder!!

    • Another WONDERful comment from the North Todd Elementary 3rd Grade Writers! We really enjoyed hearing your thoughts about today’s Wonder…thank you so much for sharing them with us! :-)

    • Those are some really creative places to wake up, Nolan! We hope you and your brother both woke up on the “right side of the bed” and were in happy, well-rested moods today! Thanks for leaving us this comment! :-)

  5. One time I woke up on my brother’s bed. I think I was sleep walking to his room. We watched a video of it and it was funny. But, if you wake up on the the wrong side of the bed, it is weird. I hope the next wonder is nice. I love wonders.

    • Thank you for sharing your personal connection to this Wonder of the Day®, Nick! We agree, waking up on the wrong side of the bed is weird and being in a grumpy mood can affect your whole day (and your friends’ day, too, because they get to hang out with a grumpy person)! We sure appreciate hearing that you and your classmate, Nolan, love visiting Wonders! :-)

  6. Noah had 2 socks on and the other video he had 1 sock on. Noah gives high fives to the other guy or he bumped into people. Noah got an “A” on a test or the other one got an “F” on the test. Noah did not get cut shaving the other one, he did get cut shaving.

    I woke up in my mom’s bed once. I wonder if you woke up on the wrong side of the bed? Thanks for another great WONDER!

    • Thank you for letting us know the cool things you learned from watching the video for this Wonder, Hailey! Some people who live and work in Wonderopolis have tired, grumpy days once in a while, too. But, Wonderopolis is such a super fun place to visit and learn, that it’s hard for anyone to stay tired or grumpy for long! We like to think of Wonderopolis as a “waking up on the RIGHT side of the bed” kind of place! :-)

  7. We enjoy the idiom “Waking up on the wrong side of the bed.” We know that it really means to be grumpy :) Many of us have experienced “waking up on the wrong side of the bed.” Our suggestion if you wake up on the wrong side of the bed is to do something you enjoy, think positive, and be optimistic!

    • Those are FANTASTIC ways to change your mood from grumpy to WONDERful, Mrs. Shoemaker’s Class! We like to stay positive and optimistic here in Wonderopolis, too! Thank you for hanging out with us today and for sharing your suggestion with everyone! :-)

  8. January 5, 2012
    Dear Wonderoplios,

    Hello! It’s Leilani, how are you guys? Happily I am fine.

    I usually wake up on the right side of the bed! I am very nice to everyone in the morning!

    I can’t wait to see the next WOTD. :D :D :D :) :)

    I am still working on the letters!!! I love you guys. I see you guys and write to you guys on the next WOTD!!!

    Leilani A. Sarlea
    :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :P

    • We can tell from the way you write your comments that you are a very nice and cheerful person, Leilani! Thank you for sharing your happiness with everyone in Wonderopolis today! :-)

    • We’re so glad that you enjoy spending time in Wonderopolis and learning new things each day, Rebecca! We think you are a GREAT Wonder Friend! :-)

    • We’re so very happy to hear that, Carah! Thank you for letting us know that you have learned to love visiting Wonderopolis! We hope you learn something new every time you visit! :-)

  9. Dear Wonderopolis,
    Waking up on the wrong side of the bed is an expression. It was a WONDERful video too! I think tomorrow’s wonder is going to be about space. (BTW I’m posting this on the day with bleach wonder of the day.)
    Paige ;)

    • Hi again, Paige! We are really lucky that you left us TWO comments today! We will have to see if you are right about the next Wonder…it’s exciting to WONDER about it, isn’t it? :-)

  10. I NEVER KNEW THERE WAS NO WRONG SIDE OF THE BED…I MEAN HOW COULD IT BE JUST A SAYING!!!! Now I am calmed down and I loved the article, literally loved it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Thanks for sharing your excitement for this Wonder of the Day®, Rad! We really appreciate your enthusiasm for WONDERing! :-)

  11. This is a great wonder! I just got introduced to Wonderopolis and now I can’t stop reading every wonder! Keep up the good wonders! :D :D :D

    • We are so happy to have you WONDERing with us, Athenamarie! We hope you have a WONDER-filled day and keep up the great work! :)

  12. How do we know which side of the bed is the right side and which side is the left side?

    Is it when you are standing at the foot of the bed and looking at the bed?

    Or is it when you are laying in the bed looking toward the foot of the bed?

    • Hi there John, thanks for commenting on our sleepy Wonder today! We love that you’ve been WONDERing about the “wrong” side of the bed, too! We think that if you’re having a bad morning, the wrong side of the bed is whatever side you got out of! However, when you’re having a SUPER day, it’s the right (or correct) side of the bed that you woke up on! It depends on how you look at it, from the foot of the bed or when laying in the bed, that can determine which side it is. But whatever side of the bed you woke up (right or left), we hope you’re having a GREAT day! :)

  13. It comes from a time of one-room houses with a fireplace on one side. The fireplace-side of the bed was the good side because it was warm, the cold side was the bad side. In the middle of the night, people will move from the bad side to the good side to get warm. This meant, you could go to bed on the warm side, but then wake up cold, shoved over onto the ‘wrong side of the bed in the morning’. You would have a foul mood whenever this happened.

    • Thanks for sharing your comment, Mike W! We are glad that you included extra information about the “wrong side of the bed” for our Wonder Friends! Have a great day! :)

    • That’s one way of thinking about it, Tyler J! Thanks for sharing your comment with us! We hope you wake up on the right side of the bed tomorrow! :)

  14. I have seen on so many different websites that says scientists do tests and stuff and it says they determine that the left side people wake up happier or whatever. But how do I know which left? Standing at the foot of the bed? Or lying in the bed?

    • Hi Rowan, we are so glad you’re WONDERing with us today! Sometimes the right side of the bed can refer to your mood instead of the physical location. For example, if you wake up after a great night’s sleep feeling WONDERful, some may say you woke up on the “right” side of the bed. But if you just couldn’t fall asleep or were thinking about an upcoming test, you might not have gotten a good night’s rest. If you feel grumpy and tired, you may have woken up on the “wrong” side of the bed! :)

  15. I never knew that this idiom was that old! I didn’t know Romans used this a long time ago, I also didn’t know that in the 19’th century E. Cobham Brewer thought that it was bad luck to get out of bed putting your left leg first. I also didn’t know people also thought it was bad luck putting your left shoe on first too! I learned alot today!

    • Wow, you learned so much Isabella! Thank you for sharing all the cool facts you learned from this Wonder of the Day! Whichever side of the bed you woke up on today, we hope you’re having a WONDERful day! ;)

  16. Yo what up homies, you should make more things about idioms. Ya know wut I mean. Anyway see yeah later dudes, and always remember to be excellent to each other. Party On!!!!!

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Which side is the wrong side of the bed?
  • What does it mean to get up or wake up on the wrong side of the bed?
  • Have you ever gotten up on the wrong side of the bed?

Wonder Gallery

little boy smiling_shutterstock_48848002imageimage1Vimeo Video

Try It Out

Ready to use your imagination? Put on your thinking cap and get a pencil and some paper. We want you to write a short story about a boy or a girl who got up on the wrong side of the bed.

What happens when he or she gets up? How does the day go wrong? What sorts of accidents and misadventures happen?

If you want, you can also continue your story to tell what happens the next day…when he or she wakes up on the right side of the bed. How is his or her day different? What lessons are learned along the way?

When you’re finished, read your story to a friend or family member. Do they remember times that they’ve gotten up on the wrong side of the bed? What about you? Do you have your own memories of waking up on the right or wrong side of the bed? Be sure to email us a copy of your story. We’d love to read it!


Still Wondering

Explore ReadWriteThink’s Figurative Language: Teaching Idioms lesson to explore figurative language through read-alouds, teacher modeling and children-centered activities.


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bed  Feng Shui  idiom  right  side  wrong 

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