Sleep late, avoid yogurt
and don't drink decaf

June 30, 1989

For a long time I've suspected it, but now medical researchers have confirmed it: Getting out of bed is bad for your health.

Researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston studied the hearts of sleeping people and found that if they work up and got out of bed, their hearts suffered temporary shortages of blood. Such a shortage, called ischemia, can be bad for the ticker, and can make you cranky to boot.

"It seems that jumping out of bed and running around to do something is a risky moment that we should think about," said Dr. Andrew P. Selwyn.

Finally, medical science has caught on.

If only they'd come out with this revelation earlier, I could've gotten a note from the doctor to keep me out of grade school.

"Please excuse young Mr. Shard from school," the note would have read. "The strain of getting out of bed could be bad for his heart. He's a growing boy and needs every organ he has."

But, as in so many cases, the medical community is the last to catch on. The wise and lazy among us have known the truth for years. we'd stay in bed most of the day, until out hearts were good and ready to get vertical.

We knew better, the perky and unenlightened called us good-for-nothing bums, but we knew better, the old wives' tales told us so. Let sleeping dogs lie? Sure, no problem. Rover will be up and at'em long before I put my heart at risk. As usual, the old wivea were right. You can trust the old wives on most matters of health, science, and cantankerous country wisdom. They've got lifetimes of experience to draw from, whereas physicians rely on old doctor shows from the early '70s and the magazines they keep in their lobbies. How much medical expertise can you really gain from Marcus Welby and a May '85 issue of McCall's ? Not much, I can tell you.

But the old wives have got it made. They've got thousands of timeworn expressions to choose from, as well as the sheer example of their own extended lives, their great sages are 100-year-old matriarchs whose daily secret for longevity is a good, cheap cigar and a nip of wild Turkey. They don't take vitamins and they avoid yogurt. They eat oat bran in their Quaker Oats, but they don't exactly seek the stuff out. and they don't drink decaf.

Which is a good thing, because medical researchers have finally caught on to what the brown-stained and jittery among us have known all along: Decaffeinated coffee is evil.

The good but somewhat slow people at Stanford University discovered that people who switch from real caffeine-fortified, gut-dissolving coffee to wimpy, useless decaf increased their cholesterol levels and average of seven percent.

Makes sense to me. They're not nervous and hyper anymore, so they're not shaking the lard out of their arteries, And to think they switched to decaf to save the ol' ticker.

Not me, doc. The only reason I drink coffee is because all these lousy day people running the country open and close everything so darn early. I don't get enough sleep, so I'm tired and cranky and need caffeine just to keep moving.

My heart is under enough strain as it is, what with having to get out of bed and all. The last thing i need is the strain of having to get going without that valuable caffeine stimulation. So here's Mr. Heart, up before he should be, vertical when he should still be horizontal, trying to pump blood without any help from Mr. Caffeine. He can't keep up enough pressure to hose all that cholesterol from the insides of the blood vessels. He'll never make it to one-hundred. No cheap cigars, no Wild Turkey, no happy birthday from Willard Scott. He's a goner.

And all because he didn't sleep late or drink real coffee.

I hope we've all learned something from this.

© 1989 Randel Shard. First published in The Minnesota Daily on November 21, 1989.