Early Rising …Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise
Probably all of us are familiar with the expression, “Early to bed, and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” This saying is actually part of the title of a small book written by Ben Franklin called, “Early to Bed, and Early to Rise, Makes a Man Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise, or, Early Rising, a Natural, Social, and Religious Duty.”The belief that early rising contributes to our health, wealth, and wisdom is considerably older than the teachings of Ben Franklin, for Aristotle taught, “It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth, and wisdom.”
Is there any truth to this saying? Absolutely! You would be wise to heed it and will become healthier and wealthier by practicing it. But how early is early? That is, how early should we rise to reap the benefits of health, wealth, and wisdom? For most of us, rising at 5 or 6 am will do the trick, for some, 4 am.
And what about early to bed; how early should we retire? Most of us will greatly benefit by going to sleep at 10 or 11 pm, while some of us may want to make that 9 pm. It will take a little practice to discover our natural bodily rhythm, sleep needs, and the amount of benefits we receive.
How many hours of sleep do we need to remain healthy, alert, and productive? The medical profession and most experts continue to state that we need between 7.5 to 8.5 hours a night. Yet, a six-year study covering one million adults (30~102 years old) demonstrated that those who slept 6 to 7 hours a night had a lower death rate than those who had slept more or less than this amount. (This study was done by the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and the American Cancer Society. And it appeared in print in the February 15, 2002 issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry, a journal of the American Medical Association.)
So, it appears, we can easily get by with 1.5 hours less sleep than the amount recommended by most experts. In fact, a small group claims we can train ourselves to fare well on five hours a night. But, of course, the experts you should listen to are your own body, mind, and emotions. If you listen attentively, they will reveal to you how much or little sleep you need for optimum health, wealth, and wisdom.
…HEALTHY, wealthy, and wise…
Just how does early rising contribute to our health? Well, the major cause of all disease is stress, and early rising helps to eliminate stress. Late risers rush to work, fighting rush hour traffic, and arrive at work ill prepared to tackle the challenges of the workplace. Compare their lifestyle with early risers…
Early risers have time for exercise. Those who put off exercise to other times of the day often find they never get around to it. By doing it in the morning, it sets the tone for the day, energizes the body, and eliminates stress.
Unlike late risers who often skip breakfast, early risers have time for breakfast and get the nutrients their body craves after a night of fasting. And those who eat breakfast have less craving for junk food during the day.
The early to bed and early to rise habit also sets our bodily rhythm more in sync with the earth’s circadian rhythms, resulting in a night of more restorative sleep.
And by finding time to plan and prepare for the workday, avoid rush hour traffic, and share in a family conversation before leaving for work, the early riser enjoys a relatively stress-free life.
So, as you can see, the belief that early rising contributes to health is a fact, not a myth.
…Healthy, WEALTHY, and wise…
It is no secret that virtually all successful men and women are early risers. They are answering emails, making phone calls, planning and preparing for the day, studying reports, and doing whatever it takes to achieve their dreams while others are still asleep.
How can early risers not be more successful? After all, The extra time they enjoy makes them far more productive. By beginning earlier than most, they find the quiet and lack of interruptions allows them to focus on the matter at hand. And because they are rested, they engage in clear thinking, make sound decisions, and easily tap into their intuition. It is in these early hours that inspiration and flashes of insight reveal themselves to us. In a word, the decision to become an early riser is a decision to become successful.
Also, the extra time in the morning provides us with the opportunity to work on goals and be proactive by anticipating, preparing for, and solving problems.
…Healthy, wealthy, and WISE…
The mark of wisdom is to give yourself the greatest gift of all: more life, and a better life. Which is precisely what we receive by rising early.
Regarding more life, Philip Doddridge points out, “The difference between rising at five and seven o’clock in the morning, for forty years, supposing a man to go to bed at the same hour at night, is nearly equivalent to the addition of ten years to a man’s life.” To which Charles Caleb Colton adds, “No man can promise himself even fifty years of life, but any man may, if he please, live in the proportion of fifty years in forty—let him rise early, that he may have the day before him, and let him make the most of the day, by determining to expand it on two sorts of acquaintance only—those by whom something may be got, and those from whom something may be learnt.”
Regarding a better life, the extra hours provided by rising early give us time to commune with nature, spend time with our family, get in touch with our inner wisdom through meditation, contemplate and figure out what is most important in our life, as well as find the time for inspirational reading, studying, and experiencing the joys of life.
I’ll return to Charles Caleb Colton because he nicely summarizes the dual benefits of early rising, “Early rising not only gives us more life in the same number of years, but adds, likewise, to their number; and not only enables us to enjoy more of existence in the same time, but increases also the measure.” Early rising, then, is both a mark of as well as the path to wisdom.
If you are not already an early riser, the following resources will help you become one and help you experience all the benefits.
Early to Bed, and Early to Rise, Makes a Man Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise, or, Early Rising, a Natural, Social, and Religious Duty by Benjamin Franklin
Read it online for free here.
Review of Steven Aitchison’s Advanced Early Riser program.