Not only is waking up on the wrong side of the bed a real thing, but according to recent studies, the phenomenon also has the potential to significantly impact the rest of your day. The reason?
According to a study published in the Journal of Gerontology, experiencing stress first thing in the morning can and does impair your working memory, which is the short-term memory that allows us to complete tasks and juggle relevant information in the coming day. Lead author Jinshil Hyuan explains further:
“Humans can think about and anticipate things before they happen, which can help us prepare for and even prevent certain events. But this study suggests that this ability can also be harmful to your daily memory function, independent of whether the stressful events actually happen or not.”
This is far from the first study to suggest that anxiety over events that have not (and may not ever) happened can reduce our brains’ ability to make decisions, maintain attention, hold on to information, and make moral judgements – in short, waking up grumpy and dreading the day ahead can turn you into a hot mess until you can find a way to reset.
This study used cutting edge app technology to be able to take a closer look at how stress-upon-waking affects the rest of our day, however, and found that it had strong associations with more errors attributed to working memory.
“Importantly, the effect of stress anticipation was over and above the effect of stressful events reported to have occurred, indicating that anticipatory processes can produce effects on functioning independent of the presence of an external stressor.”
The studies’ authors believe that once a person understands how waking up with dread can impact their day, implementing some deep breathing, mindfulness, or other centering exercises, people will be able to overcome the effects of waking up “wrong.”