In contemporary business language, you’ll rarely hear phrases like “I’ll get back to you right after my nap” or “I’m sleeping in today.”
We expect to hear energetic buzzwords like “action that,” “pivot,” and “disrupt” coming from the mouths of great entrepreneurs. The closest thing to a restful catchphrase you might hear is a philosophical “Let me sleep on it.” But it’s never “Let me sleep and sleep and sleep on it.”
Yet a full, quality night’s sleep is just what experts recommend for success. Lack of sleep impairs the entrepreneur’s most vital faculty: decision-making. It can also disrupt your memory and focus, and not in a good way.
The people at Online Mattress Review commissioned research into the sleeping patterns of our most successful contemporaries — not just entrepreneurs, but politicians, writers, athletes, and performers.
How does your sleep compare with that of the rich and famous?
While you might expect their research to be biased in favor of more sleep (and more mattresses), the data visualizations show a mixed bag of sleep routines among the rich and famous.
However, a subtler pattern emerges the closer you look at the data. Sure, there are outliers — the folks whose heads barely touch pillow before they spring up to make another million. But the most balanced personalities, the most admirable success stories, pay close attention to how and when they sleep. Doing likewise may improve your prospects of a better sleep routine.
- Mark Zuckerberg works long hours, working late into the night on Facebook (so as to leave time in the day to spend with family and friends.) While he gets to bed by 3 a.m., he sleeps in until 8 a.m. for five hours of shut-eye.
- Elon Musk is a workaholic who’s admitted working 120-hour weeks. He now manages to read a little before grabbing just six hours of sleep a night, going to bed at 1 a.m. and rising at 7 a.m.
- Jeff Bezos sleeps seven to eight hours per night. “I prioritize it. I think better. I have more energy. My mood is better,” Bezos once said. Bezos specifically ties good sleep to his capacity to make smart decisions.
- Donald Trump, “the third most powerful person in the world,” is one of the shortest sleepers ‘- working right up to bedtime and then sleeping for just three hours.
- On the long-sleeper end of the scale, you might be surprised to find that mega high-achieving athletes like NFL quarterback Tom Brady and NBA point guard Stephen Curry both get an astounding nine hours of sleep per night.
- Bill Gates reads for one hour before bed to improve his sleep, usually turning in around midnight for around seven hours.
- Warren Buffet is a notoriously big reader and, next to reading, what he does the most is sleep — preferably 8 hours per day or more.
It is evident that a sensible sleep pattern — including a bedtime routine that suits you — is the best approach for a steady, reliable, and lucrative work pattern. Sure, the likes of Musk and Trump wing it on whatever sleep they can catch, but both are notoriously flighty characters. While there may be business lessons you can learn from them, their sleep patterns aren’t one of them.
Instead, have a look through the patterns of the other successful people in the research (there are 50 in total) and see whose ideas you can mix and match to help you sleep for success.
And remember, as Bill Gates once said: “Even though it’s fun to stay up all night, maybe taking a red-eye flight, if I have to be creative, I need seven hours. I can give a speech without much sleep, I can do parts of my job that way, but in thinking creatively, I’m not much good without seven hours.”