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Sleeping habits of legends and what we can learn from them

Updated: May 31, 2019

All of us striving for greatness, occasionally find ourselves wondering: How do overachievers do it? What is the secret? How to get so much done? How to complete it that quickly? How to do more? How to execute it in a fabulous fashion? How to keep it up?


The sleeping patterns of successful and brilliant people may be a part of their recipe for success.


Let’s take a look at bedtime routines and sleeping habits of a few legendary individuals.


Oprah Winfrey


One of the most successful women in the world needs 5 hours of sleep to think sharply and manage her busy schedule. The business mogul praises rituals: she takes a relaxing bath every night, and she wakes up at the same time every morning. She cherishes nature and starts her mornings by taking the dogs out, breathing the fresh air, and paying attention to her surroundings.


She talks about the value of stillness, “conscious awareness of my presence within the greater presence of all,” and how it brings her clarity and a sense of meaningfulness in everything she does.



Elon Musk

The Space X founder works 120 hours a week and gets 6 hours of sleep each night. The Tesla CEO is dedicated to his work and is well known for keeping a sleeping bag in the conference room to be close to Tesla production line as there are times he doesn’t leave the factory for days on end.


Although Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend 7 hours of sleep for adults (18 – 65-year-olds), when he was urged to get more sleep he responded in wee hours of the morning via Twitter, “ Ford & Tesla are the only 2 American car companies to avoid bankruptcy. I just got home from the factory. You think this is an option. It is not.”


Bill Gates

Microsoft co-founder told The Seattle Times that he needs 7 hours of sleep to be able to think creatively. He goes to bed at midnight and gets up at 7 a.m.


To jump-start his day, Gates runs on the treadmill for an hour and to finish it off, he reads each night before going to bed.


Learn all about the benefits of reading before bedtime here.


Ariana Huffington

The Greek-American writer and the founder of The Huffington Post wrote a book “The Sleep Revolution” where she quotes the scientific research suggesting that sleep deprivation causes cognitive impairment and can cost the economy about $ 2.280 per laborer a year.


The multimillionaire gets 7 hours of sleep which helps her to stay upbeat and think creatively: “I have to assure you that the success at the Huffington Post happened after I started taking care of myself,” says Huffington. She takes a hot bath in the evening and puts all her gadgets away before going to bed.


She then reads some poetry or philosophy before falling asleep.


Thomas Edison

The light bulb inventor was a polyphasic sleeper. He was so passionate about his work that he considered sleeping a waste of time. He would take 20 minute - naps every 3 hours and sometimes worked for 72 hours straight, without taking any breaks or time to rest. He was a firm believer in nap-oriented sleep patterns and relied on them to help him think sharply and recharge.


He once suggested, “Never go to sleep without a request to your subconscious.”


He created over 1000 patents.


Modern Western science recommends seven to nine hours of sleep for adults while there is a wide range of Eastern nations that sleep around 6 hours a night and take naps over their desks.


Sheryl Sandberg

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg gets seven to eight hours of sleep a night. She came to realize the importance of sleep after becoming a mother.


Nowadays, she speaks out in favor of employees across the globe and encourages bosses to take actions to incorporate some sort of nap pods or build rest areas in their workplace.


Facebook is just one among the rising number of companies that provides employees with sleeping pods and stimulates them to take naps instead of another espresso at midday.


Leonardo Da Vinci

The famous painter slept between 20 minutes to 2 hours multiple times a day. The sculptor would take naps every four hours. He fallowed The Uberman cycle, a type of polyphasic sleep pattern which consists of six 20 – minute naps evenly split throughout the day. The inventor believed naps boost his creativity. Read more about alternative sleep schedules here.


Read more about alternative sleep schedules here .

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