Authors Rasmus Hougaard and Jacqueline Carter assessed over 35,000 c-suite level executives and interviewed 250 more for their upcoming book, The Mind of the Leader: How to Lead Yourself, Your People, and Your Organization for Extraordinary Results.
One particularly interesting thing they found? Senior executives, generally speaking, get more sleep than their lower-level employees.
“There are two possible explanations for this,” Carter and Hougaard wrote in an article for Harvard Business Review. “Either senior executives, with the help of assistants and hard-working middle managers, do less and take more time for sleep. Or senior executives have had the wisdom and discipline throughout their career to get enough sleep and thereby maintain a high-performance level without burning out.”
These two authors believe it’s the latter: that successful leaders know they need adequate sleep, and plan accordingly. That’s definitely the case for executives like Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who tries to get 8 hours a night, and Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who aims for 7 hours.
The authors found that 68% of non-executive leaders only get five to seven hours of sleep each night, rather than the recommended 7-9. While some people seem to be hard-wired to need less shut-eye, most people really do need to get enough sleep in order to perform their best at work.
“It used to be a badge of honor to brag about sleeping few hours, but our research should serve as inspiration for aspiring leaders to make sleep sacrosanct,” Carter and Hougaard wrote. “The key message: If you want to be an effective leader, and rise in the ranks, get enough sleep.”
[Editor’s Note: The information provided should not be considered a substitute for professional advice. Please consult a sleep doctor or other medical expert if questions arise around one’s own health.]
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