Tom and Ray Magliozzi of Car Talk fame did a bit where they bemoaned having to exercise regularly. If exercising a half hour every day adds up to a year of exercise in your life, one or the other of the Magliozzi brothers quipped, you’ll live just one year extra plus a day before you “buy the farm.”
So what if I said you could live longer with or without exercising more, without actually doing anything different than you’re doing now?
I drank alcohol regularly for 30 odd years prior to stopping completely on January 1, 2010. I wasn’t a fall down drunk, nor did I actually get wasted drunk, but I was a daily maintenance drinker. I drank until I got my buzz on. For that 30 years, when I wasn’t forced to go to work, I woke routinely around 9, 10 in the morning. After I stopped drinking I was depressed for another 9 months and so I continued to rise late in the morning, even though I retired and no longer had to work. That means I was sleeping 9 to 10 hours a night.
When I finally got on top of my depression, I resolved to curtail my sleep to a more normal 7-8 hours a night, meaning that I now wake at 7 or earlier most mornings. That’s 1 to 2 hours extra of wakefulness a day on average, which adds up to 15 to 30 more days of being awake each year.
No one knows the time of one’s death. Waking earlier doesn’t actually extend the date of one’s dying, but it does give one more time to be awake, and hence consciously alive. Plus, I wake up at a calmer, more peaceful time of my day. I feel like a get more done these days as well. That’s something.
Besides, I get to catch a sunrise now and then on my new schedule.