Archive for the 'Healthy Habits' Category

How to Be Healthy Wealthy and Wise

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

I’ve come across a lot of articles recently that say good health is tied into the cycles of the sun, or what are known as circadian rhythms. Could it be old Ben Franklin was on to something?

For a long time I’ve been trying to get to bed earlier so that I’ll get up earlier. I really enjoy that quiet time in the morning before there are many cars on the road. I love the stillness and banter of birds at the feeder on my deck. I find I do my best writing and thinking at that time too. An hour can slip by before I notice. It’s a time ripe with endless possibilities as the day awaits stretched ahead of us.

The problem I have is that I go to bed too darn late every night and miss many an awe-inspiring morning. I’m either staying up late to finish an article, watching that hilarious rerun of Seinfeld I’ve seen at least 5x but can’t turn-off, or just checking my email - for the 100th time. In any case, all these critical can’t be missed distractions prevent me from bounding out of bed when the sun rises.

From what I’ve read, artificial light from lamps, televisions and computers cuts into sleep time interfering with our sleep patterns which creates a state of perpetual jet lag. (To read more about this check out When you think about this it makes sense. After all what is jet lag? It’s when our internal body clock, or circadian rhythm, is not synchronized to the time where we’ve traveled. Our biological clock depends on the cues of light and dark to regulate not only sleep but a host of hormones that affect our health. Lack of sleep is also known to be a contributing factor to obesity. One study even showed that workers on prolonged night shift duty had a higher incidence of cancer.

A few weeks ago I managed to get to bed and be up early for 5 consecutive days. I felt better than I had in a long time and got everything accomplished on my to do list energetically and with ease. I thought finally I’d licked the burning the midnight oil habit forever. On the 5th day I had an obligation that kept me out well past my new 10 pm bedtime. In the morning I forced myself out of the bed at sunrise anyway but felt like a zombie all day. There’s nothing like lack of sleep to make you cranky and a mental dullard. The next day I slept a little later and went to bed a little later until after a few days I was back to my old routine of staying up until midnight. But, the memory of how exhilarated I felt at getting up with the sun stayed with me.

I have a number of very good friends who are natural early risers. And, while their eyeballs roll to the back of their heads at around 9:30 pm, I have to admit they are among the most productive people I know. Their houses are always spic and span; you’ll never find a dirty dish in their sink, and the best part is they get up and exercise every morning no matter what even on vacation – and that I truly admire.

In light of all this I’m planning to try my ‘early to bed and early to rise’ experiment again. This time I want it to stick, so I’m going for 30 days - since it takes that long to change a habit. I want to use that time to meditate and exercise and write before I have to start the work day. No more wasting time on self-sabotaging distractions. So, I’m apologizing in advance to anyone who’s with me when my eyeballs roll to the back of my head at 9:30 pm.