Get to Sleep

For some business owners, sleep is a privilege. Can your business wait 'til morning?
Magazine Contributor
2 min read

This story appears in the November 2002 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Has your bedroom become just an extended version of your office, where you do all the work you couldn't fit in during the day? If you're like many entrepreneurs, you've relegated sleep to the bottom of your priority list, preferring instead to burn the midnight oil on your way to success.

History is full of people like you. Inventor Thomas Edison reportedly slept just three to four hours a night (though he took daytime naps); uber-entrepreneur Martha Stewart gets by on four or five hours; and Jeff Taylor, founder and CEO of online career center Monster.com, sleeps anywhere from two to seven hours a night ("Anything less than two hours and I don't bother," he says).

Is forgoing sleep in favor of business-related pursuits the secret to success? Not according to James B. Maas, Cornell University psychology professor and co-author of Power Sleep (HarperCollins). "There is a way to condition yourself to get less sleep, but not to need less sleep," he contends. "[You're simply] becoming habituated to a low level of alertness." Get enough sleep, says Maas-who contends adults need at least 8 hours a night-and you could get your 19 hours of work done in 12 hours.

Entrepreneurs with unusual hours have an even bigger challenge. Ernest Oriente, 38, is a business coach in Park City, Utah. He routinely goes to sleep at 9:30 p.m., gets up at 3:30 a.m. to talk to his international clients by phone, calls it a day around 10 a.m., then takes a 30- to 90-minute nap to rejuvenate. Says Oriente, "I've been on this cycle for 10 years, and I feel great."

Worried you can't be successful and still get eight hours of shut-eye? Look to Albert Einstein for inspiration: He slept 10 hours a night.

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