"Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise."  Right?  Wrong!  I came across a blog post about how this old adage may just be a myth (and another one confirming his point).  Granted, I don't know the validity of these claims, but they make sense and it sure does give me hope, being the night owl that I am.

It turns out that people's biological clocks are genetically influenced to be different chronotypes, which means people have different preferences for when they are most active during the day.  For some, it's early in the day (lucky them - it fits in well with societal boundaries) and for others, it's late in the day (which does not bode well for those of us going to school or working).  Although getting up early may seem to make us better off (more daylight hours spent getting stuff done), it doesn't work as well for those whose bodies naturally feel more energized in the evening and nighttime.

If it's as hard for you to get up in the morning as it is for me, you know what the drawbacks are: feeling tired throughout the day, not working as productively, losing out on sleep, maybe even crashing during the day...  Sometimes you can't fall asleep earlier at night, so you're screwed when it comes to trying to drag yourself out of bed the next morning, with drowsiness haunting you throughout the day.  Not getting enough sleep means your body didn't a chance to fully recover for the busy day ahead of you.  The quality of sleep can also suffer because you're sleeping at times that are unnatural to your body.

This is not to say that getting up early is harmful (though it could be for certain people).  In fact, a study cited in the first article link found no correlation between sleeping habits and income, education level, or mortality rate!  The point is to listen to what your body is telling you.  You should sleep when you're sleepy and wake up when you're refreshed (although the range should be 8-10 hours - if you're nearing 12 then you'll end up feeling more exhausted).  Some people love to get up as soon as the sun is rising and others can't stand to sleep until dawn is creeping up on them.  Typically, people have no choice but to get up early - for school, for work, and other obligations.  However, if you're working from home, have flexible hours, are unemployed, or on extended vacation, it wouldn't hurt to follow your circadian rhythmn.

Now I don't have to feel guilty about my sleeping habits!

Friday the 13th 02/13/2009

Well, well, well, if it isn't Friday the 13th again.  I usually don't realize that it's coming until the day before, or usually the day of.  I never did understand why people seemed to be so afraid of the day, or even of the number 13.  They even have a term for fear of this day: paraskavedekatriaphobia.  Try saying that fast!  Perhaps I don't get it because I'm not a superstitious person - I'd gladly stay on the 13th floor of a hotel or work on the 13th level of an office building.  I love it when black cats (or any cats, really) cross my path and I don't mind if a mirror cracks.  I'll even air out my umbrellas inside - *gasp*!

It's interesting to me how pervasive some of these superstitions can get - there are countless cases of numbering where the 13th floor, room, or even stable is skipped over entirely.  It's borderline paranoia.  Come on, it's not like there isn't a thirteenth; you just haven't named it such (this then begs the metaphysical debate about what numbers are and if they even exist - but I digress).  Apparently, all you need to avoid this "unlucky" number is to not see it.  A similar superstition surrounds the number 4 in Asian culture, which stems from the similarity in sound that it has with "death."  The aversion for four is so great that you can even get cheaper cell phone numbers and license plates if there is a 4 contained in it.

Now I'm not one for superstition, but I do enjoy little charms and trinkets that purportedly bring about good fortune!  I see no need to buy into the fearful beliefs that the negative superstitions promote.  It's all too easily a self-fulfilling prophecy: you're so afraid of something bad happening because of that black cat crossing your path that you get distracted while obsessing over it and get into an accident!  Though I may not believe in these mythical beliefs, seeing a four-leaf clover or finding a penny heads up on the ground still brings a smile to my face and optimism to my heart.  Is that so bad?

Today is three of the Friday the 13ths we are going to have in 2009 (and that's the most you can ever have in a year).  Ironically, the 13th of a month has a slightly higher of occurrence as a Friday than any other day of the week!  Check out the Wikipedia article on it (look at the last chart on the occurrence section).  So if you're the superstitious type, hold on to your hats, it's going to be quite a year.