Being a CEO of a big company seems pretty glamorous –– you have a fancy house and plenty of fame. The thing the job is not known for, however, is a good night’s sleep. With various board meetings and no shortage of pressure, rest can be hard to find. CEOs like Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk get under six hours of sleep each night.
A 2017 study in the Annals of Neurology reported that not getting enough sleep can lead to risker decisions without us even realizing it. Tesla and Facebook are doing fine, and we can’t pinpoint if either Zuckerberg or Musk have made any risky decisions, however consistent lack of sleep could be taking a toll on their health.
Bezos’ philosophy on sleep
Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder, doesn’t let his role in a trillion-dollar company impact his sleep. For years he’s spoken openly about how his sleep habits influence his ability to make the right decisions for his company. In an interview with David Rubenstein, Bezos said, “As a senior executive, you get paid to make a small number of high-quality decisions. Your job is not to make thousands of decisions every day. Is that really worth it if the quality of those decisions might be lower because you’re tired or grouchy?”
We’re not saying your sleep habits will or should be the same as Jeff Bezos’. However, there are plenty of takeaways that apply to us, ordinary people.
A lack of sleep impacts your productivity
Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to several serious health conditions –– heart failure, high blood pressure and even strokes. It can also have a big impact on your productivity level.
It’s easy to rationalize that going to bed later to fit in a few more hours of work will pay off. But the fact is you’re not at your best when you’re tired. We’re not even talking about extreme sleep deprivation here; even just moderate sleep deprivation can have a significant influence on your motor skills and cognition. A study found that if someone was up for more than 17 hours, their performance was equal to someone with a 0.05 blood alcohol level.
“If you shortchange your sleep, you might get a couple of extra ‘productive’ hours, but that productivity might be an illusion. When you’re talking about decisions and interactions, quality is usually more important than quantity.” said Bezos in a 2016 interview.
If you’re working or road tripping and you’re running on very little sleep, your best is just to stop what you’re doing. You could make mistakes or seriously injure someone if you’re operating heavy machinery.
A routine can be your solution
Bezos attributes his routine as one of the main reasons he can balance his work and his sleep schedule. His routine includes reading the newspaper in the morning, having breakfast with his kids and having all of his essential meetings after 10 am.
Now that’s just an example of a routine. We know getting that perfect eight hours of sleep every night isn’t always achievable –– not even for Bezos. Things happen. However, creating a routine you can stick to will help tap into your body’s circadian rhythm and prepare for sleep. This sounds easy, but it’s difficult if you don’t work regular hours.
If you have an irregular schedule, focus on the part of your routine right before you get ready for bed. Make sure you add in activities that relax you, like taking a bath or reading a book.
Advice for creating a successful routine:
- Wake up and go to sleep at the same time each day –– even on weekends.
- Turn off your phone at least 45 minutes before bed. Avoid anything that emits blue light.
- Don’t exercise right before bed. At most, you should practice calming yoga.
- Make sure your bedroom is conducive to sleep.
Tips to sleep like Bezos
Get eight hours of sleep
Bezos has stated many times how important work-life balance is for him. He enjoys spending time with his family early in the morning, so he gets up early and goes to bed early. Your schedule doesn’t have to perfectly align with Bezos’ to get the sleep you need. What’s important is that you get the recommended seven to nine hours.
Supplement with naps
Bezos shared that he used to bring a sleeping bag to work in the early years of his career. That way, he could fit naps in between meetings. If you know the day ahead of you will be high stress, or you didn’t get the sleep you needed the night before, try taking a nap when you can. Keep it as short as possible and in the early afternoon. We’re not saying you have to use a sleeping bag, but it’s an option.
Be mindful of your schedule
As much as you can, take control of your schedule. Bezos says that he avoids early morning meetings, so he has time to complete his morning ritual. That will look different for everyone. You have to find what works for you.
Too long, didn’t read?
Even though most of us do not run trillion-dollar companies, our sleep is just as important. The decisions we make and how we function are tied to the quality of sleep we get. Being intentional about the things we do and making small changes to get better sleep will go a long way in making sure we’re ready for the day ahead of us.