“Sleep is that golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.”
Thomas Dekker – Actor
Over the past year and a half I have developed the bad habit of staying up late. Really late. I rarely get to bed before 2am as I am up working on my business. And since I developed this bad habit I’ve noticed some of my other good habits fading away like dew in the sunshine. I don’t meditate as much, I am less patient and my health is not as strong.
In this post I want to give you a few reasons as to why staying up late is a bad idea and why we should all endeavor to go to bed a bit earlier.
What constitutes “staying up late”
So how do you know if you are staying up late? Is 10pm late? Is 1am late? Actually, it depends. You know you are staying up late by one single signal. You are tired. If you are up late enough to be tired you know that you are going past your body’s bedtime. And this bedtime is different for everybody. Some people need to be in bed by 8pm. Others can stay up all night studying and not feel tired at all.
Why we should go to bed earlier
If you find that you often stay up late it might be worth while having a read over these points. I truly believe that people these days stay up far too late and that going to bed earlier is a key to many successes in your life.
If you know of any other reasons or perhaps you don’t agree with what I have written please leave a comment and discuss it. I am very interested to learn more about the issue of sleep.
1. Humans aren’t used to staying up late
Something that I have come to realize in the past few days is that humans are not used to staying up late. In fact, up until about 100 years ago most human beings would go to bed at a little after sundown. This is an interesting point as it indicates that staying up late is a very unnatural behavior.
Before electricity and light bulbs most people went to bed as soon as the days chores were finished and dinner was eaten. Sure, they had candles and fires but for the most part people did not stay up reading. They certainly weren’t up writing blog posts or watching Letterman! And going to bed early often means waking up early – until about 100 years ago everyone got up at dawn.
So perhaps staying up late is not healthy because we aren’t used to it yet. Perhaps humans are supposed to go to bed early and get up early – just like every other creature on Earth. And this leads me to my next point…
2. Staying up late is not nature’s way
I recently saw a video where the great Buddhist master Tai Situ Rinpoche said that staying up late and getting up late was not in tune with nature. I think he is 100% correct.
Think about the world. Think about nature. Everything rises when the sun rises. The flowers start to open, the birds start chirping and so on. With the exception of nocturnal animals everything on Earth wakes up as the sun does. And in a similar vein everything goes to bed as the sun does. Flowers close, birds nest, etc. But humans stay up watching television or reading blogs. Does that sound right?
If something or someone goes against nature it usually has bad consequences. For example, if you spend your life eating unnatural foods it usually means you end up getting fat, diabetes or even cancer. So why is bedtime any different? Is it really a good idea to disturb this natural rhythm?
3. The morning is the best time for meditation
Throughout the ages, since the time of the Buddha, meditation masters have been telling us that the morning is the best time of the day for spiritual progress. For many of you reading this article your spiritual progress is the most important aspect of your life. So why are we sleeping in?
In the morning the mind is clearer, sharper and more at ease. It is easier to rest in the natural state of your mind and you have a lot less disturbing emotions such as desire, anger and attachment (apart form attachment to sleep!). Furthermore, Chinese medicine shows us that the internal energies (chi) of the body are ideal for meditation during the early hours of the day. Perhaps this has something to do with the natural rhythm that we talked about above?
If you want to become a great meditator or at least start to take your meditation practice more seriously I strongly urge you to start going to bed early and waking up early. You will find that progress comes a lot faster.
4. The morning is the best time for exercise
Last night as I was sitting on the computer eating a packet of crisps and drinking a chocolate milk the news lady told me that Australia is now the fattest nation in the world. I couldn’t believe it! My home country was now fatter (per capita) than the USA. And there I was up late eating junk food and depriving my body of sleep.