Do you need a specific amount of sleep in order to be capable success? More sleep is said to be better for your body, but less sleep results in more time to build your success. How can you find the balance? Let’s start off by seeing how much sleep, according to Business Insider, some popular successful people get.

13 Successful People and How Much They Sleep Every Night:

  • Matthew Mcconaughey (actor and producer)- 8.5 hours
  • Jennifer Lopez (singer, dancer, actress and producer)- 8 hours
  • Ellen DeGeneres (TV show host)- 8 hours
  • Jeff Bezos (founder of Amazon)- 7 hours
  • Bill Gates (co-founder of Microsoft)- 7 hours
  • Tim Cook (CEO of Apple)- 7 hours
  • Barack Obama (former US president)- 6 hours
  • Elon Musk (CEO of Tesla and SpaceX)- 6 hours
  • Pope Francis (pope of the Roman Catholic Church)- 6 hours
  • Theresa May (prime minister of the UK)- 5.5 hours
  • Richard Branson (founder of Virgin)- 5.5 hours
  • Angela Merkel (chancellor of Germany)- 4 hours
  • Donald Trump (president of the US)- 3 hours

The average amount of sleep that these people get is about 6.5 hours a night, but it’s time to see what science has to say.

The Science of Sleeping:

It’s common to hear people saying that sleep is good for you and that you need to be well rested to perform optimally, but where is the proof? What does performing optimally look like?

Do you really need sleep to be successful or does it just help? What does performing optimally look like? Do you really need sleep to be successful or does it just help?

Man thinking.
Sleep is necessary for optimal thinking.

Benefits of Enough Sleep:

  • Improved immune system.
  • Curbs inflammation and reduces the risk of injury.
  • Improved memory.
  • Think more clearly and improve worker productivity.
  • Make better decisions.
  • Increases creativity and sharpens attention.
  • Improved interpersonal relationships.
  • Reduces stress and improves mood.

Let’s explore how health benefits of sleep relate to success

1. Improved Immune System:

An improved immune system ensures that your body doesn’t fall prey to illness. When you get sick you typically either give your body time to rest or you push your body to keep working in spite of your illness.

Option one gives your body time to heal but decreases the time you can spend working on achieving success.

The second option leads to an increased time spent being sick since your body isn’t given time to heal, as well as the intensity of your illness.

Pushing yourself past your limits does more harm than good, but taking sick leave does not help your productivity either.

To be successful, you need to be as healthy as you possibly can, and to ensure that, you need to get enough sleep.

2. Curb Inflammation and Reduce Risk of Injury:

Enough sleep helps reduce risk of injury and inflammation. Injury results in time off from work, time that can be better spent furthering your career and building up your success.

Man sitting on hospital bed.
Reduce inflammation through adequate sleep

3. Improved Memory, Thinking Clearly and Increased Productivity:

Your mind and how you apply it is ultimately what leads you to be successful in life. More sleep and better quality of sleep keeps your mind sharp, clear and helps you apply your brain-power to your work. Essentially, more sleep leads to a stronger mind which in turn leads to more productivity and finally to more success. Once again it is clear that a good nights sleep gives you the ability to gain success.

Girl reading about success.
You have to come up with new ideas and execute them creatively

4. Improved Decision Making and Increased Creativity:

As of April 2019, there are 7.7 billion people on Earth. 7.7 billion people who all strive to make money, live life to the fullest and be successful. In order to stand out from these people, you have to come up with new ideas and execute them creatively. You have to identify a problem that no one has solved yet and solve it efficiently before anyone else does.

5. Get Along With People and Avoid Irritability:

Going back to the last point where we learned that the world is shared by 7.7 billion other human beings, it is clear that it is impossible to achieve anything entirely by yourself. It is inevitable that somewhere along the line you will need someone to help you. That being said, it is unlikely that you will get help from someone who doesn’t like you or at least has respect for you. Therefore, you need allies in this world to achieve any kind of success, whether it is people who actively help you or people who just support you from the sideline.

You need to build and expand your social circle, which means you need to get along with people and form bonds with them. If sleep helps you do that, then sleep away…

6. Reduce Stress and Improve Your Mood:

Success means very little if you live your life in misery. In order to be happy and proud of your accomplishments, your mood needs to be as elevated as possible. Furthermore, low moods and stress negatively affect your work ethic and productivity.

While some people work well under stress, the majority of people cave and become less and less productive under stressful conditions. Most of the time, once you start to stress, the thought of stressing becomes so overwhelming that you obsess over it and can focus on little else. Make sure to get enough sleep to curb your stress levels.

“Successful people maintain a positive focus in life no matter what is going on around them.”
– Jack Canfield

Man thinking

More sleep and less stress will pave the way to success.


Sleep Deprivation:

Scientists have discovered that candidates who are sleep deprived exhibit hand-eye coordination and decision making skills as badly or even worse than intoxication does. Therefore, you cannot expect to function well enough to achieve success if you do not allow your body enough time to sleep.

Why it is Difficult to Maintain Success and Sleep Enough at The Same Time?

Since successful people work harder and longer hours than the average human being to maintain their success, it makes sense that there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to always get your six hours of sleep.

Beware of Sleep Debt:

Woman rubbing her eyes.
Don’t fall into the trap of sleep debt.

The problem with this is that, like borrowing money, missing sleep builds up. This is referred to as sleep debt. Sleep debt can be repaid, but the more sleep you lose, the more sleep debt you work up, the more unlikely it becomes that this debt will be repaid.

Sleep debt can have dire long term consequences. A buildup of sleep debt leads to mental and physical fatigue, which impacts your work ethic and your mental capabilities, inevitably holding you back from success. Therefore it is important to make sure you stay on top of your sleep schedule and consistently prioritise some shuteye.

For some tips on how to catch up on sleep debt, click here.

Remember, it’s all About Balance.

Keeping work and rest, or in this case sleep, separate is the key to maintaining the necessary balance and achieving success.

Work hard when you’re working, but leave all thoughts of it at the workplace. When you’re at home, rest and make sure to get enough sleep.

Like everything else in life, success is all about balance. You won’t get anywhere without working hard, but working too hard won’t get you very far either.

At the end of the day, sleep is for the weak, the successful and everyone in between. One thing is clear:

Sleep is a necessary step to success.