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Photo: Twenty20/Viktoria Alisevich

“Early to bed, early to rise, makes a (wo)man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”

These words, oft-credited to Benjamin Franklin, have been recited by generation after generation, perpetuating the idea that the earlier to bed, the better. But, is this true or just trite?

According to The Thirty, the answer depends, to some degree, on genetics; however, some studies have shown that people with later bedtimes tend to have more negative thoughts and are more depressed than those who hit the pillow sooner. A newer study similarly showed that earlier bedtimes can actually prevent mental illness. Plus, hitting the hay sooner can curb next-day food cravings, too.

Harvard researchers found the actual bedtime isn’t what matters most when it comes to your sleep schedule’s impact on your life. Instead, consistency is of the ultimate importance.

That said, Harvard researchers found the actual bedtime isn’t what matters most when it comes to your sleep schedule’s impact on your life. Instead, consistency is of the ultimate importance. In other words, you can go to bed at 2 a.m. so long as you do so every night and then wake up at the same time—ideally, seven to eight hours later—each morning. (If you’re getting less sleep than that, you may want to note the science-backed benefits of even just 30 more minutes per night.) Their study results showed that participants who maintained a regular sleep schedule, regardless of its time window, were more productive (and therefore potentially healthier, wealthier, and more wise) than those who did not.

In order to optimize your sleep routine, try subtracting seven or eight hours from the time at which you need to wake each morning. Then, set a “go-to-sleep” alarm for this time. (You may need to impose a phone curfew, too.) After 10 days of regimented sleep training—yes, seven days a week, even on weekends—you should start to stir before your alarm even sounds and, as a result, have a day so productive, it rivals even those of prolific ole Ben.

Can’t get to sleep, no matter the time? Give Erykah Badu’s Zen bedtime routine a try. Plus, find out whether or not you should cut your nightly slumber short in order to get some a.m. exercise