“Early to bed and early to rise,” said Benjamin Franklin, “makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”
I don’t know about the wealthy and wise part, but old Ben was right in his admonition to hit the rack early and avoid lying in bed till noon. I’m raising a toast right now – call me a geezer and a wimp if you will – to those whose heads land on the pillow before prime-time television programs begin.
A few years back, when our children were in the bloom of their college years, one of my friends who also had college-aged kids asked me, “When your children are home from school and they go out at night, do you stay up till they get in?”
“Hell,” I answered frankly, “I don’t stay up till they go out.”
Students’ hours make no sense. They sleep till noon or early afternoon, stay in low gear throughout a couple classes in the afternoon and early evening, then head out to do whatever it is they do – and it’s wise not to ask – sometime around 10 o’clock.
On college campuses across the country, students revel in what they call “late-nights” – parties that begin at midnight and last until daylight. If you’re paying thousands for your own kids to go to college, you might ask them about it.
“How can you party from midnight till dawn and then go to class and learn?” I asked one of mine. The answer was murky.
My grandmother used to say anybody out after midnight was up to no good. I agree.
I like my routine: be in bed around 9 o’clock, read for a few minutes and then shut off the light and venture to snoozeland. Get up before dawn – 5 a.m.’s a reasonable hour this time of year – and watch the sun rise while reading the newspaper and having a couple cups of coffee.
And I’m not alone. Partying till dawn isn’t as popular as it used to be, even in the Big Apple, “the city that never sleeps.”
On Tuesday nights in New York, curtains for Broadway shows are going up at 7 o’clock rather than the customary 8. It’s a marketing tool to appeal to those who like to get to bed early. And the New York Philharmonic, which never used to sound its first notes before 9 o’clock, now begins at 7:30.
Early to bed-early to rise is stimulating. Take a ride around Camden some morning before dawn and watch the town come to life – delivery trucks pulling into supermarkets, commuters buying coffee and gas before they hit the interstate to Columbia, cops getting in their last cruise through town before the sun comes up.
It’s a world different, and infinitely more pleasing, than what you experience late at night.
Yes, early-to-bed folks might not see the latest television shows, and the late-night bar scene will pass them by, but as far as I’m concerned, Benjamin Franklin was at least partially right:
Early/early syndrome will make you healthy. I’m still waiting on the wealthy and wise part.
(Glenn Tucker, who's a contributing columnist for the Chronicle-Independent, is on the road. This column is reprinted nine years after it first ran.)