Sleep Tight?

Running low on rest? Learn how others cope with fatigue.
Magazine Contributor
4 min read

This story appears in the August 2005 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

If you own a business, you know what it means to work late, start early, swill coffee and generally rank sleep last on your list of priorities. You don't want to waste one single minute when you can be getting that sale or making that extra widget--so what if it's 3 a.m.? Read on to find out how these successful entrepreneurs deal with sleep deprivation.

Jennifer Kushell, 32

Co-founder with her husband, Scott Kaufman, 30, of Young & Successful Media Corp., a media and education company in Marina del Rey, California

2005 projected sales: In the millions

Sleep stats: Kushell, who gets an average of three to four hours of sleep when she's really busy--or a luxurious eight or nine hours when she's not--says, "We've been known to work into the early morning when we're writing or working on intensive documents. Sometimes it's just impossible to get work done in the office with the phones, e-mails, meetings, etc."

Losing sleep: In a sleepy fog, Kushell went to the wrong airport once and called someone she'd known for 10 years by the wrong name in a meeting. She also cites the peril of the "work hangover." Says Kushell, "That's what I call the day after a seriously intense sleepless binge. [It has] all the same symptoms of a hangover, just without the alcohol."

Rejuvenation: Kushell knows the importance of sleep--and she generally makes up her sleep debt on weekends. "After an exhausting stretch, I've been known to seriously hibernate when I have the opportunity," she says, "Unfortunately, it only happens a handful of times a year. My world record is 23 hours [of sleep] in Thailand after a month and a half on the road."

Josh Reid, 38

Co-founder with Paul Maravetz, 38, of Rome Snowboard Design Syndicate, a snowboard manufacturing company in Waterbury, Vermont

2005 projected sales: More than $5 million

Sleep stats: Reid, who gets about six hours of sleep on average, recalls a specific eight-day stretch when he and his crew were desperate to deliver their snowboard orders to retailers on deadline. The marathon week had them stealing an hour of sleep here and there--using the cab of the delivery truck for a bed. "That was purely entrepreneurial survival, doing what we had to do," he says.

Losing sleep: Reid says his body is used to not getting much sleep when he's at trade shows or on business trips interacting with customers. "If I'm responsible for opening the [trade show booth] every day and have to socialize with my customers at night, I end up getting two or three hours of sleep."

Rejuvenation: Even the chronically sleep-deprived Reid notes that, after a whirlwind trip, "you get on the plane really shot and exhausted. I get home, and it takes a couple of days to recuperate."

Jason Wagner, 34

Founder of Trackitback, a loss protection and recovery service provider that manufactures coded ID labels for valuables in Winnipeg, Manitoba

2005 projected sales: $1.5 million

Sleep stats: Wagner, who gets an average of four to six hours of sleep a night, says he's used to getting by on scant sleep--and it doesn't seem to hurt his business. In fact, he says, "Ninety percent of my ideas, revelations and planning occur to me when I'm supposed to be sleeping at night." For example, the epiphany of his company name, Trackitback, came during those twilight hours.

Losing sleep: He confesses that losing sleep can leave him irritable. "I counter [the irritability] by walking, working out or playing sports," he says. "[Sleep deprivation] also makes me send out the odd 'should have thought about that a bit more' e-mail."

Rejuvenation: When Wagner doesn't get enough sleep during the week, he catches up on weekends. "I always take a two-hour nap on Sundays to recharge my batteries for the upcoming week."

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