I'm fanatical about a lot of things: coffee, books, clothes, work, running—not necessarily in that order (in case my employers are reading this). But more than any of these activities, I'm fanatical about sleep. Like Brooke Shields and her Calvin Klein Jeans, nothing gets between me and sleep.

I used to think this refusal to burn the candle at both ends, even for the sake of church, work, or home, was selfish. Not anymore.

In the first year or so of our marriage, my husband and I were lassoed into chaperoning a youth lock-in at our church—you know, the Christian version of a rave except the kids play games like Duct Tape Head rather than dance all night and get high on sugar instead of Ecstasy. I learned something about myself that night (well, I learned quite a few things, but only one is pertinent to this article): I need sleep.

Eager to please both church and spouse, I tried to make it through that all-nighter. And I got so close. But by 5 a.m. (I'll spare the gory details), my husband was begging me to go home and go to bed. Feeling like a failure, I did.

I'm not sure why I thought I could (let alone why I should) make it through the whole night. Since childhood, having had barn chores most of my life since then, I've been an early riser and, consequently, an early-to-bedder. I never pulled an all-nighter in college. And although I had my share of late nights while sowing my wild oats, I've always had a natural body clock that needs closer to 9 than 8 hours of sleep, and preferably sooner rather than later.

For a long time, this kind of embarrassed me. But I'm over that embarrassment now. Way over it.

Whether you're a morning person or a late owl, when you sleep ...

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