The magic pill that makes you smarter, funnier, and more attractive
If someone offered you a magic pill that made you significantly smarter, funnier, healthier, and more attractive, would you take it? What if they offered you that choice every night of your life? Would you take it as often as possible?
I would. One of my primary drivers is maximizing my performance in life, and better cognitive skills, health, and attractiveness is a three-for-one. I suspect many of you think similarly (hence why you're reading this).
Now consider: that magic pill is sleep, and that someone is you.
You give yourself the choice, each and every night, to sleep well or to sleep poorly. To wake up feeling refreshed, more intelligent, healthier, and more attractive; or to wake up dumber, uglier, and more stressed out.
But for some strange reason, many of us (myself included) consistently make the decision not to take that pill. We choose to live a shorter, quantitatively worse life.
The last three nights, for example, I've averaged perhaps five hours of sleep. My writing is worse, my productivity has plumetted, and I'm all-around less 'Nick' than I normally am.
All I routinely receive in exchange for this decision is perhaps another hour or so of zombie-like existence during my least productive time of the day; likely watching television, playing video games, or scrolling social media. Is that really worth a significant amount of my effectiveness the next morning? Definitely not.
So why do humans keep doing it?
I suspect part of the issue is precisely what sleep helps prevent - poor decision making after a prolonged period of time awake. By the sixteenth or seventeeth hour of your day, you are probably significantly less capable of making decisions with beneficial long-term impacts, and so you're more likely to prefer immediately pleasurable activities like television over less-pleasurable (but ultimately more beneficial) activities like falling asleep.
This then spirals into a loop of poor decisions, whereby you get progressively dumber and uglier and more likely to repeat your mistake. Fast forward a decade and you're the proud owner of long term cognitive damage, increased mortality, and so on.
I have no real answer for you - only awareness that the problem exists. Millions of articles have been written on the topic by people much more talented than I.
The takeaway is this: whether it involves setting better alarms or improving your sleep hygiene, we should all do our best to capitalize on the incredible opportunity we are given each evening. Sleep more for a better, more effective life.