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Sleep is the essential and often overlooked third pillar of health, along with a healthy diet and regular exercise. While there is plenty of evidence to support the benefits of sleep (reduced stress, increased focus and memory, improved mood), many people are sacrificing hours of slumber in favor of more work time.
Some of the most prominent culprits when it comes to limited sleep are entrepreneurs. Given the fast-paced world that we live and operate in, entrepreneurs have no time to waste and are limiting the hours that they sleep to make their businesses a success.
Many famous entrepreneurs have done just this and have since stuck to fastidious routines so that they can meet all of their weekly commitments.
So, how many hours do famous entrepreneurs sleep? Famous entrepreneurs sleep the following number of hours:
- Elon Musk: 6 hours
- Mark Zuckerberg: 5 hours
- Jack Dorsey: 6 hours
- Bill Gates: 7 hours
- Richard Branson: 5-6 hours
- Jeff Bezos: 8 hours
- Steve Jobs: 6-7 hours
In this article, we’ll take a look at this range of famous entrepreneurs to better understand their routines and why they work for them.
Typical night’s sleep: 6 hours
Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, is an entrepreneur that needs to maximize the hours in his week. Essentially working two jobs, Musk spends an average of 40 hours with SpaceX a week and an additional 42 hours at Tesla. Given that each role equates to approximately the same number of hours one person in a full-time position works a week, it is no wonder Musk needs to limit his sleep and follow a strict routine.
Musk typically goes to bed at 1:00 am and wakes at 7:00 am, aiming to get 6 hours of sleep per night. This amount of sleep has been carefully determined to be a balance between a busy lifestyle and mental acuity.
Too much sleep prevents Musk from performing the required number of hours in his leadership roles with both Tesla and SpaceX (as well as an additional half day volunteering with OpenAI, a not-for-profit focused on artificial intelligence), but too little sleep and Musk notices a detrimental impact on his focus and mental clarity.
Typical night’s sleep: 5 hours
The Chief Executive Officer of social media giant Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg is no stranger to hard work. Typically working 50-60 hour weeks in his leadership role, Mark follows a routine to ensure he can fit exercise, family time, and sleep around his busy work schedule.
Mark is often up late talking to programmers, so he doesn’t rise until 8:00 am or later, depending on the time his conversations end the day before. He aims to get a minimum of five hours sleep each night to ensure he has enough energy to focus during meetings, workout three times a week, and enjoy time with his family.
Typical night’s sleep: 6 hours
Jack Dorsey is another entrepreneur kept busy by being the CEO of two companies: Twitter and Square. His time is spread across the two organizations, with each day of the week themed to focus on one particular type of task (e.g., Monday is for management, Tuesday is for product and design, and so on).
He takes a similarly structured approach to his sleep and personal routine to ensure that he has enough time to devote to each of his commitments.
Dorsey usually gets six hours of sleep per night, going to bed at 11:00pm and rising at 5:00am. He needs to wake early to fit in his regimented morning routine: one hour of meditation, a HIIT workout consisting of three seven-minute exercises, then coffee.
Typical night’s sleep: 7 hours
Entrepreneurial great and founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates did not become a household name for no reason. His dedication to business and commitment to philanthropy ensure that his days are kept full. To get the most out of his life, Gates prioritizes sleep and schedules seven hours of slumber per night.
Gates’ typical routine has him going to bed at midnight and waking at 7:00 am. While he has previously admitted he is jealous of people who can function on less sleep, Gates requires at least seven hours to perform at his best. He has said that he can function on less sleep when he has to perform certain tasks, such as giving a speech the next day. However, to be able to think creatively, he needs at least seven hours.
Typical night’s sleep: 5-6 hours
Founder of the Virgin Group, Richard Branson has long been respected for his entrepreneurial ways. He likes to implement structure to ensure he gets the most out of his busy weeks, having both a morning and a night routine. Beginning his day between 4:00 am and 5:00 am, Branson begins his day by checking social media. This is also one of the last things he does before going to sleep at 11:00 pm, followed only by some time switching off from electronics.
Branson places importance on high-quality sleep and knows that he needs five-six hours of sleep to function correctly.
Typical night’s sleep: 8 hours
Jeff Bezos is the founder of the largest online marketplace in the world, Amazon. As a leader, he is required to make decisions and therefore needs to be able to think clearly and logically.
Bezos has spoken about the importance of sleep and how he makes it a priority in his daily schedule. Unlike other entrepreneurs who run on limited sleep, Bezos needs at least eight hours a night to be able to do his job well. He prefers to go to bed early and wake early and sticks to a morning schedule that includes having breakfast with his children, reading the paper, and having his daily coffee.
Bezos requires eight hours of sleep to maintain a good mood and ensure his interactions with people are positive. He also believes that the quality of his decisions is better with more sleep, and his productivity levels are increased.
Typical night’s sleep: 6-7 hours
Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, changed the technology landscape and had a significant impact in shaping the world we know today. For some time, Jobs was CEO of both Apple and Pixar, roles that were both time-consuming and taxing. To get through the endless emails, business lunches, and important meetings, Jobs had a set routine that included a good night’s sleep.
A self-proclaimed morning person, Jobs would wake at 6:00 am to begin his day after six-seven hours of sleep. He would dress in the same outfit (black turtleneck and jeans) and start work straight away. Following a busy day running from one commitment to another, Jobs would have dinner with his family, take a walk, and practice meditation before heading to bed between 11:00 pm and midnight.
The sleep routines of these famous entrepreneurs demonstrate that many of these successful individuals are not getting the recommended eight hours of sleep per night.
With stressful jobs and busy lives, it is easy to see why sleep gets sacrificed to accommodate other commitments. Sleep deprivation can have a detrimental impact on health and, therefore, should not be dismissed.
That being said, every individual’s sleep cycle is different, and each individual requires a different amount of nightly sleep to function at their optimum. Some of these entrepreneurs may simply require less sleep than the average person, meaning they have more hours in their day to attend to their busy schedules, while others may be sacrificing sleep to their detriment.
While cutting down on sleep may seem the best option to increase productivity, this is not always the case. When we are well-rested, we are likely to think more clearly and perform to a higher standard, meaning that the extra time spent sleeping will be made up by higher efficiency in our actions.
Regardless of this, there is no denying that each of these entrepreneurs has been hugely successful in their endeavors.
Understanding the sleep routines of these famous entrepreneurs is a unique way to learn about their habits and schedules. By learning about their practices, we can use this information to implement good routines in our own lives to achieve success and reach our personal goals.