Successful sleep habits: How 10 famous business leaders balance their work and rest

Mar 26, 2021

Getting enough shut-eye is important if you want to stay focused, smash goals, and achieve success. In this article, Phil Lawlor, Sleep Expert at Dormeo, shares his insight into the sleep habits of 10 famous people in positions of power, plus some tips for getting a good night’s rest.

When you’re working towards your own goals, it’s always good to take inspiration from people who are outstanding in their field. From their business models to their ethics and even their fashion sense, we all like to learn about the secrets to their success in the hopes that they’ll bring us similar good fortune. But, when it comes to what they do outside of work hours, some of their habits may be surprising.

At Dormeo, we researched 10 leaders from a range of different industries, including business, sport, politics, and entertainment, to find out what time they go to bed at night and how long for. To make sure we had a truly diverse group, we also took note of their personality type according to Myers-Briggs indicators. Here’s what we found: 


How much sleep is recommended?

It’s important to point out that several of the leaders on this list don’t get the recommended amount of sleep suggested for an adult, which is between 7 and 9 hours according to Sleep Council. Amazingly, former President of the Unites States, Donald Trump, only manages a tiny 3 hours sleep per night on average, less than half of the minimum recommended amount.

While people who sleep less technically have more hours available for work, the reality is that sleep deprivation can affect everything from your concentration level to your mood, hindering your productivity. It can even have a knock-on effect on things like your appetite, which can cause you to feel even more distracted and eventually impact your physical health (Sleep Foundation). So, while the likes of Elon Musk and Victoria Beckham may be creating more hours to get things done in, they could be more likely to experience burn out and long-term issues as well. 

So, if you’re looking to improve your mental or your physical wellbeing, I would recommend taking inspiration from the likes of Oprah Winfrey (8 hours), Serena Williams (7 hours), and Bill Gates (7 hours). Everyone is different, though, so listen to your body and if you feel sluggish, try extending the amount you sleep within that 7–9 hour window.

How can I make sure I’m getting enough?

One of the biggest causes of sleep deprivation isn’t lack of trying, but simply not being able to drift off or stay asleep through the night. This is a particular area of concern for people with busy careers, as factors such as stress from work or a lack of routine can cause your rest to be disturbed. If you’re struggling with issues around sleep quality, there are a few small changes you can make to the way you work to improve it.

  1. Work near a window: Natural light can work wonders for your circadian rhythm, which is the biological cycle your body uses to fall asleep at the right time, and setting up your desk or work area near a window can help you get the most out of the daylight. It’s also nice to look out your window once in a while to give your eyes and mind a break from whatever you’re working on, and daylight can give you a mood-boosting dose of serotonin too.
  2. Keep work and rest separate: By physically bringing your work into your relaxation areas, you can blur the line between staying alert and getting ready for sleep. So while it may be tempting to finish off projects while getting cosy on the sofa or tucked up in your bed, it’s better to keep your work where it belongs. We’re don’t all have lots of excess space, so if you don’t have a spare room to turn into an office, invest in extra storage instead so you can both physically and symbolically put your work away at the end of the day.
  3. Get your body ready for sleep: Routine and environment can go a long way towards signalling to your brain that it’s time to wind down. At least two hours before bedtime, try to put away all screens and digital devices and do some gentle exercise, have a bath or shower, or read a book instead. Then, make sure your bedroom is kept tidy and clean to limit distractions, and that your bed is comfortable and supports you properly. If you wake up stiff or there are lumps and bumps keeping you awake, it might be worth investing in a new mattress that can support you properly, such as a memory foam mattress. 

If success is important to you, it’s good to consider how sleep, or lack thereof, can have an impact on how and when you reach your goals. From taking inspiration from global business leader’s resting habits, to getting enough light during the day, you can ensure you wake up feeling ready and able to meet your business goals.

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