Odds are, you don’t make money in your sleep, and so it seems like there would be a linear connection between how little you sleep, and how much money you make. That might be the case if you’re still making your money hourly, but the most successful people aren’t, and many of them are still finding a way to get their beauty rest.
For what it’s worth, science agrees with them. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends a minimum of 7 hours of sleep a night, and the National Institute of Health warns that getting less, especially on a regular basis, can lead to adverse effects on memory, creativity, and even decision making.
Bill Gates - Philanthropist, Former Microsoft CEO
“I knew I wasn’t as sharp when I was operating mostly on caffeine and adrenaline, but I was obsessed with my work, and I felt that sleeping a lot was lazy” - Bill Gates
When reminded that even entrepreneurs need sleep, the go-to defense is tech billionaires like Bill Gates made their fortune on caffeine and 4 hours a night. But now, even the man himself is on the record saying that may have been a mistake, and wasn’t as instrumental to his success as the “sleep when you’re dead” advocates would have you believe.
He recommends that people coming up after him get the doctor recommended 7-8 hours of sleep a night and that they shouldn’t try to convince themselves otherwise.
Jeff Bezos - Amazon CEO
“Eight hours of sleep makes a big difference for me, and I try hard to make that a priority. For me, that’s the needed amount to feel energized and excited.” - Jeff Bezos
Sure, you’re saying. Bill Gates thinks you need sleep, but he’s not the richest man in the world anymore, is he? Jeff Bezos, another tech billionaire, and holder of the top spot on the world’s wealthiest list also emphasize the importance of sleep. Making the time to get an extra few hours of sleep is a priority for Bezos because it allows him to approach his job with the attention and excitement it requires.
Jack Ma - Investor, Former Alibaba CEO
“If I don’t sleep well, the problem will still be there. If I sleep, I have a better chance to fight it.” -Jack Ma
Jack Ma, another tech billionaire, and one-time CEO of tech conglomerate Alibaba has also weighed in on the importance of sleep. Ma is coming to his conclusion from the other end, instead of having extra energy, his philosophy is that sleep deprivation slows you down, and can make problems worse. In his mind, trying to attack a problem without the required resources, including a good night’s sleep is futile.
LeBron James - NBA All-Star
It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that a professional athlete shoots for 7-8 hours of sleep a night, and Lebron admits that sometimes he even tries to get 9 hours.
Lebron is more than an athlete, he’s a spokesperson, investor, and producer, and is involved in too many business ventures to list here. He also takes a savvy, business-like approach to his career and contracts, so maybe he’s on to something here.
In any event, his philosophy shouldn’t be limited to just fellow athletes. The brain needs rest just like the body, and neglecting either is going to hurt your performance.
Tobias Lutke - Shopify Founder & CEO
“I've never worked through a night. The only time I worked more than 40 hours in a week was when I had the burning desire to do so. I need 8ish hours of sleep a night. Same with everybody else, whether we admit it or not.” -Tobias Lutke
In addition to being CEO of one of the largest eCommerce companies, Lutke is also its founder and found a way to make it all work on not just 8 hours of sleep a night, but only a 40-hour workweek. His success flies in the face of the prevailing tech culture and wants everyone to know that there shouldn’t be anything stopping you from making getting the appropriate amount of sleep a priority.
Jason Fried - Basecamp Founder & CEO
“If your company requires you to work nights and weekends, your company is broken. This is a managerial problem, not your problem. This is a process problem, not a personal problem. This is an ownership problem, not an individual problem.” -Jason Fried
Jason Fried, another tech entrepreneur, goes on the offensive in his quest for beauty rest. He argues that the correct amount of rest is so essential that any company or industry that does not allow or encourage at minimum, a work-life balance that allows for a full night’s sleep is fundamentally broken.
Whether or not you agree with him about corporate culture, he’s right that sleep is an essential priority for all levels of business.
Mark Zuckerberg - Facebook Founder & CEO
“I was never a morning person” -Mark Zuckerberg
Another successful CEO taking it the extra mile in defense of sleep, Zuckerberg goes so far as to eschew the “early to bed, early to rise” philosophy of success. By his own admission, Zuckerberg would get into the office as late as 10:30, sometimes later if he’d been up late the night before.
The Facebook founder has even raised some eyebrows recently but submitting patents for a “sleep box” intended to help his wife get the rest she needs.
With or without sleep, there’s only so much you can do in a day, and there’s a mountain of evidence that says you’ll get less done if you start trying to shave hours off your sleep. Instead of getting trapped in the rat-race of a business culture that says being underslept and overcaffeinated will make you successful, listen to these CEOs (or the scientists, or both) and make time to get a good night’s sleep. Your brain, body, and business will thank you for it.