How Much Do CEOs Sleep? Fast Company Asks Around

Learn about the sleep habits of 15 CEOs and find out if sacrificing sleep is necessary for success.

By Loren Bullock

American culture as a whole sees sleep as a thing you might have to sacrifice for success—as long as you accomplish your goal, all of the sleep you missed was worth it. That’s why people like the president of the United States, Donald Trump, and Pepsico CEO, Indra Nooyi, boast only getting 4-5 hours of sleep per night. Elon Musk only sleeps and average of 6 hours a night.

Considering that, along with food and water, sleep is one of the main things humans need to live, you’re probably wondering how all successful people skimp on sleep to accomplish their dreams. Well, other successful people such as Tim Cook, Arianna Huffington, Jeff Bezos, and Jack Dorsey report that their sleep falls between the recommended amount of 7-9 hours.

Fast Company, a business media magazine, wondered whether some of the leading CEOs get enough sleep every night, or if they skip the snoozing to clock more hours of work. They asked 15 CEOs about their sleep habits, and the results might surprise you.

What They Said

The answers each CEO gave generally fell into three categories: they either got enough hours every night, the sleep they can’t get during the week they make up through napping or sleeping in on weekends, or they just didn’t get enough sleep period. Overall, 9 out of 15 CEOs they interviewed get enough sleep, 3 out of 15 make up sleep debt on weekends or with naps, and 3 out of the 15 don’t get enough sleep.

CEOs That Got Enough Sleep

Here are the CEOs that prioritize their sleep schedule and a summary of what they had to say:

  • Tom Smith, CEO of Dadi: He makes sure to get a solid 6 hours of sleep per night. Any less and he notices his mood suffer.
  • Philip Krim, CEO of Casper: Though he has a newborn, he sleeps 7-8 hours for maximum productivity.
  • Susana Saeliu, CEO of Pluto: Saeliu didn’t used to get enough sleep, but she says sleep deprivation caught up with her. Now, she sleeps 7-8 hours each night.
  • Nick Stafford, CEO of Ollie: He sleeps about 8 hours each night. To make it easier to fall asleep, he makes it a priority to leave his phone downstairs.
  • Sarah Ahmed, CEO of Warp + Weft: Like Saeliu, Ahmed didn’t used to get enough sleep, but eventually learned how important it was with experience. Now, she sleeps 8 hours each night.
  • Hilary McCain, CEO of Sweet Reason: McCain uses the CBD from her brand to help her sleep the 7.5 hours she gets each night and stick to a consistent bedtime.
  • Javier Evelyn, CEO of Alerje: He sleeps 6 hours every night and aims for 7. He has a rigid morning routine he doesn’t miss because the mindful meditation is crucial for his energy level.
  • Ron Rudzin, CEO of Saatva: Rudin has a bedtime ritual he performs every night before getting 7 hours of sleep.
  • Anna Palmer, CEO of Dough: Like some of the women mentioned earlier, she didn’t always get enough sleep, and found that to be a mistake. Now, she gets 7 hours and even schedules meeting for later in the day if late night inspiration hits her.

CEOs That Work to Make Up Sleep Debt

These CEOs have a bit of a complicated relationship with sleep:

  • James Park, CEO of FitBit: Park sleeps about 6 hours a night, though he says he’d like to sleep more. He uses exercise to get a good night’s sleep and more hours of sleep.
  • Kathrin Hamm, CEO of Bearaby: While she does get 7 hours every night, she’d prefer to get 8, and uses naps to close the gap throughout the week.
  • Ashley Merrill, CEO of Lunya: This CEO only sleeps a shocking 4-6 hours per night. But on the weekends, she sleeps 9-10 hours throughout the night and takes 2-hour naps during the day.

CEOs That Don’t Get Enough Sleep

These CEOs fall in the classic work-over-everything category:

  • Craig Elbert, CEO of Care/Of: Elbert doesn’t have a consistent sleep schedule due to being a parent of 2 with a strict work schedule. Sometimes he gets 7-8 hours; sometimes he gets 4. However, he says that if he could get enough sleep every night, he would.
  • Christina Stembel, CEO of Farmgirl Flowers: Stembel gets about 3-4 hours a night of sleep on average, and sleeps in 10 hours one day out of the week. She says that her lack of sleep is a sacrifice she is willing to make for her business.
  • Jessica Mulligan, CEO of Line Winged: Mulligan says she doesn’t tend to follow what the sleep experts say; she listens to her body; she’ll sleep when she’s tired. She attributes her attitude toward sleep to passion. She is passionate about her job, so it is easy to get up in the morning, even when lacking sleep.

Sleep and Productivity

There is a reason that 75% of the CEOs in this article either get enough sleep or aim to get enough sleep—it is a key player when it comes to productivity. It heightens your focus and concentration, improves your memory, boosts your energy, and allows you to make better decisions.

It is fine if you spend more hours a day working than you do sleeping, but sleep is still majorly important. Like most of these successful people, aim to get 7-9 hours of sleep each night and elevate your productivity.

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