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Bill Gates Says Changing This Toxic Habit Helped Him Be More Productive: 'I Need to Try Harder' Gates chatted candidly about the competition to be the hardest worker.

By Emily Rella

Key Takeaways

  • On an episode of his podcast "Unconfuse Me with Bill Gates," the billionaire discussed the importance of sleep and the mental benefits he's received as a result of getting more of it.

Several successful business leaders, such as Tim Cook and Mark Wahlberg, stress the importance of waking up early. Both famously rise before 5 a.m.

But billionaire Bill Gates is now preaching the opposite.

In a recent episode of his podcast "Unconfuse Me with Bill Gates," the Microsoft founder talked about the importance of getting sleep to achieve maximum productivity.

Related: 'There Is More To Life Than Work': Bill Gates Delivers Emotional Message To Graduates About Learning To Take A Break

On the program, Gates spoke with guests Seth Rogen and his wife, Lauren Miller Rogen, about how, in his early days, it seemed to be a flex in the business world to sleep less, inferring that you were working harder than everyone else.

″I would be like, 'I only sleep six hours.' And the other guy says, 'I only sleep five!' and 'Well, sometimes I don't sleep at all,'" Gates said candidly. "I'd be like, 'Wow, those guys are so good. I need to try harder, because sleep is laziness and unnecessary.'"

However, once Gates' father was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, that all changed.

"[Sleep is] of the most predictive factors of any dementia, including Alzheimer's, whether you're getting good sleep," he said.

Related: Bill Gates Doesn't Agree With The Movement to Pause AI Development — Here's Why

According to a 2021 study by the National Institute of Health, data shows that people in their 50s and 60s who were getting six hours of sleep or less a night were 30% more likely to develop dementia than those who were getting seven hours or more.

In a 2019 blog post about one of his favorite books of the year, "Why We Sleep" by Matthew Walker, 72-year-old Gates wrote that he believes that everyone "most certainly" needs between seven and eight hours of sleep every night in order for their brain to function optimally.

"Back in my early Microsoft days, I routinely pulled all-nighters when we had to deliver a piece of software," he said at the time. "Once or twice, I stayed up two nights in a row. I knew I wasn't as sharp when I was operating mostly on caffeine and adrenaline, but I was obsessed with my work, and I felt that sleeping a lot was lazy."

Gates' productivity is obviously on point.

As of Friday afternoon, his estimated net worth was $133 billion.

Emily Rella

Entrepreneur Staff

Senior News Writer

Emily Rella is a Senior News Writer at Previously, she was an editor at Verizon Media. Her coverage spans features, business, lifestyle, tech, entertainment, and lifestyle. She is a 2015 graduate of Boston College and a Ridgefield, CT native. Find her on Twitter at @EmilyKRella.

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