UNITED STATES—There is something that I have had trouble with as long as I have lived: sleeping. I think it really started when I started working in high school, but it got worse in college, when I started working midnight shifts and pulling all night-ers. That resulted in my body seeing a shift in my circadian rhythm cycle and I’ve had tons of trouble adjusting that pattern since.

One thing that is odd, but then again maybe it’s not is that I have never needed an alarm clock to get up for school or work. I just know when to wake up and my body immediately kicks things into gear. The flipside to being able to wake up with no help is that it is so much harder to go to sleep. I’m not the person who can just close my eyes and go to sleep, trust me if I could make it happen I absolutely would.

With that said, two things I’ve discovered is that if I just go to sleep without forcing my body to stay awake I tend to sleep better. Yeah that tends to be easier said than done, when you get off work and have a ton of things that need to be completed America. The body is tired, but just going to sleep is not as simple as saying: just close your eyes.

I have come to the realization that if I get that slightest hint that I’m starting to doze off, that I should just allow my body to go to sleep. When I just let the body rest, I sleep like a baby. When I fight it, it leaves me fighting tossing and turning throughout the night. The other issue is when I try to stay up past my sleepy time as I call it, I will NOT fall to sleep at night. That usually transpires between midnight and 1 a.m. This is like clockwork for me, I’ve known this since college and I think it’s a direct result of me being a morning bird.

People tend to say you sleep when you’re dead and for the most part, I do agree to that assertion and claim, but you have to sleep to rejuvenate the body. Getting up early in the morning, leads to the body needing a nap or a short sleep as I like to call it during the day if it’s possible. If I get up at 6, I can usually go until 3 or 4 until I need a 15 to 30 minute nap. Once I have that, I can go another 5-6 hours before my body is ready to call it a day.

I am NOT a night owl, never have been never will be. If I need to stay up late I can, but it absolutely will take a toll on my body if I allow it to. Question: what is the ideal number of hours of sleep most Americans are expected to get? Any guesses? It’s around 7-8. Yeah, the last time I got 7-8 hours of sleep was before I started working in high school. Since then, I think I might average 5-6 hours a night, on rare occasion I might get 7, but 8 or more, I honestly cannot recall the last time that transpired.

Anything less than 5 hours puts me in a cranky and groggy mood people. You don’t want to be around me if I haven’t gotten some level of ample sleep. Don’t ever try to make up for sleep lost, if you lose it you lose it just move on to the next day people. As I get old, the biggest thing I’ve learned is that sleep is an essential element of life, it might be the most important thing you can do each day. It allows you to clear your mind, it allows you to rejuvenate, it allows your body to rest and most of all those stressors of the day dissipate for a few hours, at least we all hope.