The question of how many hours a successful entrepreneur should sleep every night should probably be answered by – well, successful entrepreneurs. If we ask co-founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates, 7 hours of sleep is the perfect amount of rest to keep his creativity flowing. If we ask Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer, who notoriously pulled 130-hour weeks at Google and doesn’t believe in burnout, 4 to 6 hours of sleep every night are enough for her to tackle her packed 10-11 hour days. So, who’s right?
According to Harvard University, the average adult requires between 7.5 and 8.5 hours of sleep. However, there are genetic factors that play a role in how much sleep each person needs; circadian genes are responsible for our unique individual circadian rhythm, and they define whether you’re a lark, an early riser (commonly known as a “morning person,”) or an owl, someone whose peak of creativity and productivity is at night. Knowing what your individual needs are is key in assessing how many hours of sleep you need. Having an honest self-awareness of the relationship between the amount of sleep you get and how it affects your mood, health, and productivity is a crucial part in this process, so you must be ready to do some self-observation to determine your number.
Let us take one of the most successful entrepreneurs we can think of as an example: in order for Bill Gates to be able to do creative work, he needs to have 7 hours of sleep. If he has less, he will be able to perform, but he knows he won’t be at his best. We all find ourselves giving our bodies the bare minimum it needs in order to perform in the daily, but if you’re aiming to succeed to your highest potential, you must look at how much more (or less) you’re able to do on a certain amount of sleep. Observe yourself and try to catch the differences between the days in which you’ve gotten around 7.5 hours of sleep, and the days when you’ve gotten less.
Maybe, like Bill Gates, 7 hours is the perfect amount of sleep for you to recharge your batteries. But if it isn’t, how do you find out how much sleep you need? This may sound like a luxury for many, but if you want to set yourself up for success in the long run, take a sleep vacation. During a period of a week and a half to two weeks, sleep as much as you can. It is recommended that you go to bed at the same time every night, and wake up naturally without alarms. First you will likely find yourself sleeping quite a bit; allow your body to recover all the sleep it needs, which you probably have been keeping it from. Continue going to sleep at the same time and waking up whenever your body feels rested, and by the end of your vacation you will have an idea of how many hours your body actually needs to replenish. Continuing to give yourself the amount of sleep you need is key in your day-to-day efficiency and overall wellness.
Many of us have found ourselves lost in the pressures of the quest for success, and have neglected our need for sleep. However, the possibility to adopt new, healthier sleeping habits is always available. We invite you to dive into sounder sleep, and hopefully more success.