Does evening “recovery” affect a person’s mood at work the next day?

Researchers at the University of Mannheim found that the mood with which people start work in the morning is impacted by the quality of their recovery the evening before.

Press release of 26 June 2023
Print version (PDF)

The study by Maike Arnold, M.Sc., and Prof. Dr. Sabine Sonnentag showed that people who had higher quality recovery during the evening than usual had higher levels of wakefulness, calmness, and pleasantness when they started work the next day. According to the study, activities that help people mentally detach from work and relax are best suited for good recovery. The specific activities can vary interpersonally and on a day-to-day basis. Socializing, reading a book or practicing mindfulness are general examples of relaxing activities. On the other hand, employees who had a worse-than-usual rest the previous night perceived themselves as more tired, tense, and unpleasant the next day. Moreover, these feelings and sensations persist on such days and do not improve throughout the day.

“Our study shows that daily recovery from work during off-job time is indeed beneficial for employees’ mood”, said Maike Arnold who conducted the study in collaboration with Occupational and Organizational Psychologist Prof. Dr. Sabine Sonnentag. “However, our findings also highlight that the benefits of evening recovery are relatively short-lived, since wakefulness and calmness subside during the workday after evenings with higher quality recovery”, explained Arnold. The study also suggests that mentally detaching oneself from work in the evening is closely related to better sleep quality.

The study was based on diary entries by 124 employees on 887 days. About two-thirds of the participants were female. Their average age was between 36 and 40, and their ages ranged from 21 to 65. They were asked to answer questions several times a day: immediately before starting work, at two-hour intervals during the day and at the end of the working day. Criteria such as mood, sleep quality, recovery, work events and work breaks were assessed.

The article was published in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology.

Maike Arnold
Academic staff member
Chair of Work and Organizational Psychology
Tel:  +49 621 181–2124

Rheia Martiny
Press Officer International Communication
University of Mannheim
Tel: +49 621 181-1434