Sleep hacks of successful entrepreneurs

Sleep is for the weak. I’ll sleep when I’m dead. You snooze, you lose.

In today’s American work culture of 70-hour workweeks, sleeplessness is a badge of honor. Waking up in the wee hours just thinking about work or attending 4 am tennis/golf matches to network with big names in the industry have become the norm.

This fast-paced, always-on-and-connected world of entrepreneurs on-the-go has taken sleep for granted.

Especially for entrepreneurs trying to build their empires, it’s essential to be switched on round the clock and give 24/7 attention on the business (or so many think).

For peace and quiet, some prefer to work while the rest of the world sleeps. And that’s on top of the normal working hours they spend during the day!

They also take advantage of their freedom and more control over their time. They get to decide when they get some shut-eye. They can take power naps in between meetings.


Sleep has almost become a habit one has to do, rather than a necessity. It’s even become a luxury for many.

And sleep deprivation has become a show of resilience and determination.

But is this approach to sleep healthy?

According to Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post, it’s NOT. After collapsing from sleep deprivation and 18-hour workdays, she has become a strong champion and staunch supporter for sleep. In her book, “The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time,” she says:

“Sleep is profoundly intertwined with virtually every aspect of brain health. Lack of sleep over time can lead to an irreversible loss of brain cells—yet another debunking of the myth that sleep debt can be made up.” 

She hits the nail on the head with this one.

Successful people sleep and find themselves healthy. On the contrary, those who forego some shut-eye suffer from cardiovascular diseases and weak immune system.


Many successful leaders of today seem to agree with the whole Sleep Revolution. Unlike many entrepreneurs and budding unicorn founders who keep to a 3-4 hour snooze times, successful founders and industry leaders of today take their sleep seriously. Here are some of them:


Tim Cook, Apple CEO

Tim wakes up at ridiculously early hours. Reports of his waking time vary between 3:45 and 4:30 AM. But the point is, he wakes up ahead of the rest of the world to answer his emails.

Despite this, he still gets his 7 hours of sleep every night. He goes to bed at 9:30 PM and wakes up at around 3- or 4-ish.

He’s also known to be the first in, last out in the Apple office, which is reminiscent of Apple founder Steve Jobs.

Elon Musk, SpaceX founder and Tesla visionary

Elon goes for an average of 6 hours of sleep every night. He would hit the hay at 1 am and wake up at 7 in the morning.

He once said on Reddit AMA:

“Sleep is really great. I find if I don’t get enough sleep I’m quite grumpy… I could drop below a certain threshold of sleep, although I would be awake more hours I would get less done because my mental acuity would be affected.”

Jack Dorsey, Twitter and Square CEO

Just like Elon, Jack sleeps for an average of 6 hours, starting from 11 pm to 5 am. When he’s up, he would meditate for 30 minutes, do three 7-minute workouts, and get his morning caffeine fix... all before starting work. 

Bill Gates, Microsoft founder and philanthropist

To be creative, sharp and upbeat, Bill needs his 7 hours of sleep. He would normally go to bed at 12 am and wake up at 7 am the next day. That’s a big turnaround from his early days at Microsoft, when he’s been known for pulling all-nighters and envying short sleepers who had “so much more time to learn, work and play.”

Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder & CEO

Jeff would go to bed at 10 and wake up at 5. His usual 7 hours of sleep makes him more alert and able to think clearly, which are especially needed if you’re the decision-maker of one of the world’s biggest companies!

In a Wall Street Journal interview, he said that having ample sleep

"makes a big difference for me, and I try hard to make that a priority. For me, that’s the needed amount to feel energized and excited.”

Staying true to circadian rhythm, he also veers away from morning meetings. Instead, he spends his mornings with his family having a healthy breakky.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder and CEO

Mark is just like many of us. He wakes up at 8 am and even later when he has to stay up for late night meetings with his team. In Facebook’s early days, he got to work no earlier than 10:30 am. During a Facebook Q&A, he said that he’s never been a morning person, though fatherhood is turning him into one. 

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO

Unlike her colleague and fellow chief executive, Sheryl wakes up early after spending 7 hours sleeping. She strikes a balance between hectic days in the Facebook HQ and family time by spending time with her kids before going to bed at 9:30 pm. In an interview, she stressed why sleep is important:

"we have to acknowledge that not everyone can get the sleep they need.”

And this is probably why there are napping pods at Facebook HQ!



Want to steal the sleep secrets of successful entrepreneurs? Then try rearranging your day so you're sure to give ample time for sleep! If you're having trouble getting your shut-eye, here are some ways on how you can sleep better.