You shouldn't have to kill yourself to change the world

DECEMBER 26 — Just a while back Elon Musk declared that you needed to work 80 hours a week at least to “change the world.”

“Nobody ever changed the world on 40 hours a week,” he declared.

Musk has been accused of being anti-union and the general perception he gives off online is that he believes since he can (sort of) function on very little sleep, everyone should.

The research is out there that pretty much states that not sleeping enough is detrimental to your health in the long-term.

Just think of all the people who've caused car accidents from falling asleep at the wheel.

As someone who survived a bus accident where the driver fell asleep, I am pained when I see people glorifying overwork and under-sleeping.

My parents were no-nonsense about making us sleep enough. My bedtimes were set strictly, adjusted slightly as I grew older. Even when I was a teenager, my father would tell me not to stay up.

“Just sleep, girl. You won't get that much done working late into the night.”

Sleep first, worry about it later. Nothing is worth losing sleep. Or so I was raised.

Yet too many of us sacrifice it too easily and then pay the price for it years later.

In my late 20s, I saw colleagues and people I knew addicted to long hours... and then complaining about the physical toll.

There is something not right about people in their early 20s and 30s with slipped discs, high blood pressure and gout.

We already spend too much time at our desks, us sedentary folk, to the point we need expensive gadgets to remind us to stand up at least once an hour.

Humans are not machines ― even machines have failure rates, need servicing and upkeep.

Only a stupid person would spend so much money on a car yet spend nothing on keeping it working.

Yet why are so many people stupid about their bodies, that we can't pick up in a showroom or trade in for new ones?

I've tried, once, to see how long I could go without sleep. Once I hit the 36-hour mark, it felt like I could pass out at any moment yet at the same time there was this strange feeling, an awful kind of serene clarity.

Most likely it was my body wondering if I was dying. I wouldn't recommend the experience to anyone but I can see why people think this weakened mental state is somehow ideal ― you're just too tired to focus on too many things.

Going without sleep for too long leaves you stretched, like a rubber band pulled almost to breaking point. And like a rubber band, do it too often and you will snap.

The strange, tragic thing is that people hail people like Musk as visionairies,as world-changers but it's a lot like sheep worshipping a wolf in fleece.

Capitalism encourages this notion of treating people as expenses, of squeezing them for as much as you can and discarding them when they've passed their sell-by date.

After all, nothing raises stock prices faster than a company announcing layoffs.

Before you pull another late-nighter, I would like you to think about who's going to pick up the tab if you're hospitalised? Is your health really worth squandering for someone else's bottom line?

I hope no one ever has to go through what I did ― being in an out-of-control vehicle, its driver passed out at the wheel, knowing I could do nothing but brace for what will come.

So this long holiday season, give yourself that precious gift you can't buy ― get some sleep. And maybe save yourself a medical bill in the process.

*This is the personal opinion of the columnist.