Early to Bed
“Early to Bed” is a very old rhyme, dating back as far as the 15th century. The description of it as ‘old English’ in 1486 does place this expression as one of the oldest phrases still in use in everyday English.
The person most associated with the phrase and who brought it into common usage in the USA was Benjamin Franklin. Poor Richard’s Almanack, which was an annual journal published by Benjamin Franklin under the pseudonym of Poor Richard between 1732 and 1758. Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy wealthy and wise is found in the 1735 edition.
Later American commentators have had some fun at Franklin’s expense. In 1928, Carl Sandburg suggested that ‘Early to bed and early to rise and you never meet any prominent people’. In the New Yorker, February 1939, James Thurber turned it round with:
Early to rise and early to bed makes a male healthy and wealthy and dead.
The modern version of it goes like this:
“Early to Bed” Lyrics
Early to bed and early to rise,
Makes a man, healthy, wealthy and wise.