Early to Bed, Er . . . Never Mind

We’ve all heard Ben Franklin’s saying: “early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise”.

It may not be true.

A new study published in the Journal Science says that late risers have more mental stamina and can outperform early birds.

And when Southampton University’s Catharine Gale and Christopher Martyn followed up a 1973 survey that had included data on sleeping habits, they found no evidence among the survivors that following Franklin’s advice was associated with any health, socioeconomic or cognitive advantage. If anything, night owls were wealthier than early risers.

Amusingly, President George Washington may have been right when he gave the following terse response to Franklin’s “early to bed” advice:

“I don’t see it.”

Postscript: Michael Rivero writes in response to this essay:

They are missing the context.

In Franklin’s time, the vast majority of Americans were farmers. Even tradesmen had farms at their home to support their families.

Farming is very much tied in with the sunrise and sunset. Those who slept late neglected their crops and stock and suffered for it. Franklin’s comment had little to do with the clock and everything to do with accepting personal responsibility.

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