It took me a long time to realize how important a good night's rest means to the body and mind. My parents used to force me early each night into the bedroom as a little boy, even when i desperately wanted to continue playing or swirling the house cat by the tail around the room.
As i grew older, i managed to find ways to stay up late. In my teens, i conned my parents into letting me keep a computer in my room. Late night gaming sessions followed. I was an avid reader, literally breathing in books by the dozens. More late nights followed. Even when i was sleepy, i kept myself awake. I don't know why i did that, well not really. It just didn't seem right to sleep when there was so much to do.
I'm close to a cousin who is of the same age as me. We used to compete at everything. I am told that i used to kick him all over the baby cot. I am told that i managed my ABCs and 123s before he could even talk. I was bigger, stronger and smarter. Well, at least while we were still in kindergarden. He caught up fast in primary and secondary school.
One day, i asked him what was the secret of his success. He wasn't a nerd by any standard; he was your well rounded individual and, i'll bet my right arm, that if he was born a Malay, he would have enjoyed the best fruits of anything the government could offer. I remember he looked at me, and answered, "I get 8 hours of sleep each night, without fail."
From then on, i tried getting more sleep each night, and found that my performance at school improved slightly. But, by then it was too late for any significant improvement and i am where i am now as a result (which isn't half bad but just different from what i wanted).
And, now, as an adult, his advice to me that day rings more true than ever before. Work and the lack of sleep do NOT mix. A few late nights watching English Premier League football this past week has reaffirmed this fact.