The Early Bird Doesn't Necessarily Catch The Worm!

December 18, 1998

(Larks and owls and health, wealth and wisdom)

There is no justification for early risers to affect moral superiority over those who like to stay in bed a little longer, say Catharine Gale and Christopher Martyn from the University of Southampton in this week's Christmas issue of the BMJ. In a study of 1229 men and women over 65 years of age the authors tested the validity of Benjamin Franklin's maxim "early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise". They found no evidence to suggest that those who are "late to bed and late to rise" suffer any socioeconomic, cognitive or health disadvantage. If anything owls were wealthier than larks!

Gale and Martyn do, however, suggest in their findings that a longer time spent in bed may be bad for you. They say that those spending 12 or more hours in bedhad a risk of death one and a half times greater than those spending nine hours in bed.


Dr Christopher Martyn, Clinical Scientist, MRC Environmental Epidemiology Unit, Southampton University, Southampton General Hospital, Southampton


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