Early to Bed, Early to Rise: An Experiment with Ben Franklin

I taught Seminary again this week, which meant that I had to be getting up around 5am every day. Last time, I didn’t change my sleep schedule that much–I just got up earlier, and I was exhausted each day. So this time, I decided to put Franklin to the test. “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” And let’s be honest, in light of yesterday’s post, I need all the health, wealth, and wisdom I can get. So each evening, I tried to get to bed by 9pm.


As in, the hour before ten. Two hours before eleven. Two and a half hours before I normally go to bed.

Each day, I woke up at 5am as planned. And you know what? I haven’t been tired–despite all the other stressful things happening in my life. I’ve yawned much less. I’ve been a better thinker.

And I’ve absolutely loathed every minute of it.

Really. I hate going to bed early, I’ve decided. Hate it with a fiery passion that just might cause flames to shoot out of my eyes. We’re talking Mrs. White hatred, people.

Why do I hate it? For many reasons. First of all, my favorite time of day is the night. I love my evenings. I look forward to staying up late, reading books or watching movies. I would rather have an entire day with me being tired–and me having a real evening–then a day with me feeling fine and missing out on those few hours. Does that make me odd? Second, I hate what it stands for: I am not one of Those People. I remember once on my mission, my companion and I knocked on a man’s door at 4pm. He came to the door and yelled at us for having come by so late, informing us that all “good minded people” were already in bed by then.

At 4 in the afternoon.

Yeah. I don’t want to be that guy, and each evening before I turned off the light at 9pm, that’s the guy who flashed through my mind.

Is it any wonder I didn’t enjoy the experience?

So the question is–will I do it again next time I teach Seminary? Honestly? I probably will, as much as I hate to admit it. I’ll feel like an old fuddy duddy, but the cold hard truth is that I’m beginning to have a hard time functioning on just five hours of sleep a night. I’d go to bed a bit earlier–say 10:30 or so–but the problem then is that I can’t typically fall asleep at that time. I get sleepy around 9, and I usually fight through it. Once I clear that bump, I don’t get sleepy again until around 11:30. So it’s pretty much an either/or situation.

Have I been wealthier than normal? Certainly not. More wise? I don’t think so. Healthier? Possibly. But I’m sorry Mr. Franklin. 1 out of 3 just ain’t gonna cut it.

How about you–when do you go to bed and get up each day? Normally, I’m an 11:30 to bed, 6:30 out of bed kind of guy. When I’m not being a fuddy duddy. Do share!

2 thoughts on “Early to Bed, Early to Rise: An Experiment with Ben Franklin”

  1. I’ve been getting up at 5 for the last few weeks to write. I love it. A huge part of what I love is having 1-2 hours of utter alone time. I cannot say how precious that is to me. And then: I’m writing again! But I’ve definitely had to start going to bed early too, because when I was going to bed after 11 and getting up at 5 I was just a mess before 8pm. I think I’ve been chronically under-rested since high school, and I’ve been making huge efforts to change that during this pregnancy, to help with some headaches I’ve been getting. It feels good.

  2. Ironically, ever since that week of me going to bed early, I’ve been going to bed earlier than I used to. Usually around 10:30–which is much better than 9, at least. And I’ve discovered that I do indeed feel better. So maybe I’ll consider making it a more permanent change. Even if I am a fuddy duddy.

    Glad the extra sleep is helping you, Lisa!

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