Early to bed, early to rise

Proverb. Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise. A person who goes to bed early and wakes up early will lead a more successful life.

According to a study published in Journal of Applied Social Psychology, people who wake up early tend to be more productive than those who sleep in. Early risers are also more confident, positive and assertive. Early to bed, early to rise, ready to succeed.

The cock crows in the morning
To tell us to rise,
And he that lies late
Will never be wise.
15th century – Author unknown

In 1639 John Clarke wrote and published “Parœmiologia Anglo-Latina” or ‘Proverbs English, and Latin’.  Reportedly it contains the proverb, “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise” though Americans popularly prefer to attribute the quote to Benjamin Franklin who quoted it in his Poor Richard’s Almanack back in 1732. The saying also appears in books of husbandry, fishing and hawking by Anthony Fitzherbert and others as early as 1532 and 1496. There is evidence that Aristotle said it too. Regardless who said it, how many of us follow the advice? How many of us have actually tried to set our alarms a few hours earlier than normal?

In contrast to this harangue for success I have lately interested myself in the less persuasive alternative of sleeping in. For the past couple of years I have often stayed up late – as often not sleeping any better as a result – lingering under the duvet until 11:00 am.  Today I succeeded to a new height of indolence by sleeping (not just lying there) until after one o’clock in the afternoon.

This extraordinary tardiness is by my analysis an expression of fatigue. On other similar occasions of late morning arising I have forgiven the indulgence by arguing it preserves me from approaching illness. Yet the bald admission today is that I felt undeniably more healthful having succumbed to my soporific yearning. Obviously I cannot disagree with the assertion “people who wake up early tend to be more productive than those who sleep in”  (frankly a small compliment) but this does not address my attestation that I am strengthened by sleep.

Naturally my stoic training continues to diminish my behaviour notwithstanding its advantage.  I still prefer to get up early.

The last time I read anything by William Shakespeare – indeed anything even resembling the marvel of the saucy Worcestershire – had to have been in Fourth or Fifth Form at St. Andrew’s College. I distinctly recall our English Master at the time was Louis Pitman, Esq. He inspired in us the joy of language. His polished British accent lent an authenticity to what might otherwise have passed for archaic gobbilygook. Whatever it was that enthralled us, its savour lingered until years afterwards when studying Philosophy at Glendon Hall. The specific incident I have in mind transpired in the autumn of my second year at Glendon Hall. The event concluded what had been part of the traditional return to university in the autumn before anyone got too serious about studying.  My irreverent cronies and I had been up all night. We were about to submit to overwhelming fatigue. As I prepared to depart I caught sight of the dawn on the other side of the valley. Upon glimpsing the distant autumnal awakening I mechanically uttered the Bard’s poetic words (or at least a passable substitute for same), the precise words of which are:

But look, the morn, in russet mantle clad,
Walks o’er the dew of yon high eastward hill.

Horatio to Marcellus, Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 1, William Shakespeare

You have to acknowledge this paints an enviably image of dawn. Its allure is not limited to its artistic appeal. Included is its philosophic blandishment; namely, that morn is not something to be missed. It is this pleasing observation that maintains my erstwhile Spartan lifestyle. It was only by limitation that this afternoon I have been able to maintain my composure. For one thing, no breakfast.  That alone consumes well over an hour of the day.  I have similarly accommodated other habits, reclining myself in the end to a much qualified day. While I won’t suggest I have suffered by this matutinal inactivity, I have to say that I can bear the deprivation. By way of compromise I willingly accept that from time to time one must sleep in.  Otherwise…