When we were younger, we slept whenever and wherever we wanted. We stayed out on the weekends, partied until the sun rose up. Why? Because we could. Even on school nights or if we had work the next day, we would tread along that sleep threshold line to see how far we could get away with it. We thought to ourselves, just have to survive the next day as a zombie and I’ll be fine.
So why do “old” people sleep early and never stay out late? Is it that when we get older we get naturally more tired? Maybe, maybe not (I’m not a neurologist). But I think that when we get older, we start to prioritize our sleep more because we understand how important it is.
For me, my mood is dictated by my sleep. When I don’t get a good night’s rest, I’m grumpy, easily aggravated, lack confidence, and unable to maintain eye contact. I find it more difficult to be happy, expressive, and pleasant to speak with. I’m basically that guy in the Snicker’s commercial that needs a Snickers.
Furthermore, as we get older, we have more responsibilities and more expectations to perform. We meet new people, start to run meetings, and realize that first impressions matter. And if you are meeting new people, or running meetings, you just can’t be that tired grumpy guy anymore. You just can’t.
You have to actually work all day. You need to be able to function all day. You need to be able to think clearly with clarity. You need to be confident and sure of yourself. You need to perform at a high level. You are expected of it. There are people looking at you and judging you. So sleep is a necessity in order to do your job, and do it well.
So it’s not that we’re any less capable of staying up late, it’s that we prioritize sleep over whatever fun we’re supposed to get by staying out a few more hours. When we’re young, we can get away with it. Start class at 10AM, take a nap between classes, or just stroll through work just doing what you are expected to do. As we get older, we gain more responsibilities, more impressions, and the expectation to perform. We can’t get by each day being a half-alive zombie anymore.
So sleep early and maintain it.