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Note: This week we will explore the issue of sleep  — or lack thereof. Why do we not get enough sleep and what toll is it taking on us? We’ll have three installments, starting today with Richard Rodriguez.

About nine months ago I changed jobs.

It was not for advancement or more money but for a shorter commute and better health insurance.

I also changed my work hours from a regular day shift to a 3-11 a.m. shift, which I actively sought.

I knew it would be a tough transition but the very early hours would help me to help with the kids and transportation needs in the afternoons and early evenings.

The old job was during day hours but the long commute kept me away from home for 12-plus hours a day, I felt useless to my family and it stripped me of all energy to do anything when I got home.

So I landed a position that cut my commute from two hours to about 45 minutes each way.

I just needed to transition to those new working hours. Staying up late was my thing. My brain was most active at night and after the kids went to bed, I would watch my TV shows, write, surf the net, etc.

I was still able to get enough sleep to go to work the following day. Now I have an early bedtime that I almost never comply with, which leads me being sleep-deprived for most of the week.

By the end of the week I am so exhausted I usually pass out on the couch trying to stay up.

I had one very scary instance caused by this sleep deprivation.

Driving home one Saturday afternoon I had stopped for a red light and then I opened my eyes and saw the car in front of me coming closer really fast. I could not fathom why this was happening but my reflexes kicked in and I pushed hard on the brakes and literally stopped inches from the car in front of me.

Holy shit that was close!

I could not believe that I had drifted off to sleep so quickly, but was lucky that it was for only a second and I was able to recover before smashing into the car in front of me.

I hope for this never to happen again.

I have since then kept caffeine pills in my car and use them when I don’t stop for coffee and feel like I’m overly tired. I do have to say that the cup of coffee typically is more effective than the pills.

So nine months in, I continue to stay up too late and feel like I can never get everything done.

I sometimes take a nap in the afternoon when I get home but need to be careful as sometimes it just makes you more tired.

Overall I like these hours. I enjoy commuting during the off hours and not dealing with any traffic whatsoever. I also like the time in the afternoons I have to deal with family responsibilities.

My workweek also shifted to Tuesday-Saturday with Sunday/Monday off.

I miss my freewheeling Friday nights but having Monday off makes Sundays so much more relaxing.

It is what it is. I just keep plugging along.