I used to pull all-nighters. Perhaps not all the time, but I did them. I could do them. Now it's just too painful. When I'm tired, I couldn't keep myself awake even if my life depended on it. Well, I know from experience that an energy drink would fix that, but the subsequent physical discomfort from being fatigued and wired isn't worth the restoration of my temporary alertness. Why be awake if I won't be 'all there', anyway?
I no longer even compromise a minute of my sleep. I don't like to. I don't stay up late. I try to and usually do fall asleep roughly 7.5 - 8 hours before I need to awake. I don't drink coffee after a certain time in the day. I don't drink more coffee, or caffeinated beverages than I know I can handle. I exercise. I usually put on some relaxing instrumental music when I get into bed just before I go to sleep. At present, I'm quite partial to the more serene pieces on the Gladiator soundtrack. I don't watch television so that I won't get stuck to it. I don't surf the net for the same reason plus there's the fact that the fan in my laptop makes just enough noise to ruin a good night's sleep. I also try not to read before sleeping. I usually get my minimum of one hour per day of reading done earlier on when I'm more alert, but mostly I do this because I'll dream about whatever it was I was reading, and likely grind my teeth in the process. (Ah, sweet dreams of the influence of Newton and Goethe on Nineteenth century physics... Just what I want to dream about!) I don't turn off my phone, but I do put it on a different profile to ensure that I'm not awakened by any emails. I keep alarm, phone, and SMS functions working just in case I need to be contacted for any emergency. I don't have a land line, and you never know what could happen.
As I've said, I wasn't always like this. I used to do whatever it took to finish ... anything. I remember doing this for school, and especially work. I know that it wasn't good for my health, or my success, but I used to think that it was. I would kill myself for schoolwork just to have the perfect [insert school assignment here]. And I used to stay up all night for work, come in to the office after staying up all night, work like an animal, and feel it was somehow "impressive" that I could ignore all of the signs of fatigue that I was showing just so I could say to my co-workers with absolute certainty "You don't work as much or as hard as I do." (On this, I think I had, and to this day still do, put too much stock in leading by example.)
But what was the point? I fabricated a measure of "success" that I could meet, then met it. It feels foolish now. I wanted to work harder, and party harder than everyone. It was exhausting. I couldn't handle it. I spent four straight months in the summer of 2005 sick, even after taking antibiotics for the cold. I look at pictures, and I can see that I was killing myself. It makes me uncomfortable to look at them. For the most part, I've just gotten rid of any pictures of myself from that time.
I didn't instantly improve, but I have improved substantially and continue to. With every passing year, and every better habit I adopt, I increasingly and unfailingly find:
If you interrupt my sleep, I will hate you.