Early to Bed and Early to Rise Makes a Man [or Woman] Healthy, Wealthy and Wise

– Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanack

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Whenever I used to hear this quote, my reaction would be something like “Yeah, okay.” I’d figure that it was probably true but never really gave it much thought, and it pretty much went in one ear and out the other. But now that I’m getting a little on in years (the big 3-0 inching eerily closer), I’m beginning to see why this quote is so-oft quoted.

Some of you may have noticed that my posting has been a little inconsistent lately. As I explained in my recent roundup of personal finance articles, our cousin has been visiting us since April (and will be here until July 8th). Because most of our relatives live overseas, when we do see each other, it is usually after a span of several years. Despite the physical distance between us, we have always been very close to most of our cousins, and consequently, there have been a lot of late nights of catching up on the last half decade or so – chatting about other family members (there are a lot of us), reminiscing and laughing about our childhoods and complaining about the “grown-ups” who still treat us like children even though most of us are now in our late twenties and early thirties.

While these late night chats have been priceless, they have also taken a toll. We often all stay up together till about midnight, and after the others turn in for the night, I usually spend several hours catching up on work (for our other businesses or this blog), and it isn’t unusual for me to go to bed at sunrise. While it’s great to have these quiet and uninterrupted hours in which to work, there is also a price.

In the past couple of years of working at home, Madoline and I have gone through several periods of reversed sleep cycles. These reversals are often triggered by a few days or weeks of staying up late to work on holiday and seasonal rush orders resulting in habitual late bed- and rising times. At the worst of these times, we go to bed around 8 or 9 in the morning and wake up in the mid- or late-afternoon. On these days, even if we get 8 hours of sleep, we are not much better than zombies, and needless to say, our productivity is greatly inhibited.

We have found that “Late to bed and late to rise” (despite getting 8 hours) often results in:

  • Unrestful sleep due to light and noise
  • Waking up headachy or dizzy
  • Inability to function without coffee
  • Dizziness or headache persisting through the entire day
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Mental slowness such as taking a lot longer to do math in my head
  • More mistakes – mental and physical
  • Getting less work done

When our sleeping schedules reach this point, usually about twice a year, we have to perform a major overhaul which involves a couple of miserable days of forcing ourselves to stay up as long as we can and going to bed as close to nighttime as possible, gradually shifting our sleep cycles back to waking up in the morning. When we finally succeed at waking up around 5 or 6 in the morning, there is a complete change.

The results of “Early to bed and early to rise”:

  • Waking up without feeling sleepy or tired
  • Mental acuity
  • Better energy and mood throughout the day
  • The day feels longer (in a good way)
  • Better control of mind and body (working faster and making fewer mistakes)
  • Getting more work done

So, I can now attest that Mr. Franklin’s statement is true and correct to the best of my knowledge. And based on my experience, going to bed around 9:00 or 10:00pm and getting up around 6:00am reaps the best results health-wise (studies have found that sleeping at night is healthier because the body requires sleeping in complete dark in order to completely rest and build defenses against diseases), wealth-wise (because you can get more done in less time), and wisdom-wise (because your mind works better when your body is feeling better).

Off to bed I go. : )

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