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“You look horrible. You have bags under your eyes; your face has no color. Are you okay?” This is what my stepmother told me last week when I stopped by my parents’ house after work.

I felt worse than I looked.

No, I did not have a financial crash. Here is what happened. It took me a month or so to write my mini book on Tesla and the EV industry (you can get it in PDF or email series form here). I’d wake up a bit earlier than usual, at 4 (instead of 4:30 or 5) to write. I’d go to sleep later than usual, as I was researching what I was going to write the next morning. I was excited and incredibly energized by the topic. I was in the “zone.” After I finished the Tesla article, I wrote a 20-page quarterly client letter, which took another two weeks. At that point I had already created a bad habit – going to sleep late and getting up very early.

I eat well – a lot of fish, a lot of vegetables, no sugar or refined flour. I exercise, at least twice a week, sometimes three. I am in the prime of my health. However, the lack of sleep accumulated and caused me to crash. Every afternoon I felt like I was hit by a truck – I was a walking zombie. In a normal conversation I could not recall names or facts.

I was so exhausted that I was not self-aware enough to recognize I had a problem.

This incident caused me to research the topic of sleep. I read a book called Why We Sleep, by UC Berkeley neuroscience and psychology professor Matthew Walker. This book dramatically changed my thinking on sleep. In our macho, workaholic society we glorify working long hours and getting little sleep. We value people who are the last ones to leave the office and the first ones to show up in the morning. We view sleep as an inconvenience that competes with the waking up hours it doesn’t occupy. The expression, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead,” perfectly described my thinking (and, I suspect, society’s) on sleep.

I could not have been more wrong.