Why is Sleep so Crucial for your Entrepreneurial Success?

"Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise," said Benjamin Franklin. It holds true for all entrepreneurs who are running a successful venture and realize the importance of sleep.

At the World Economic Forum at Davos, in 2019, Jack Ma the billionaire entrepreneur and founder of the Chinese e-commerce site Alibaba, who was literally on a hide doubt during the pandemic stirring debate on his health once said that sleep is key to handling stress and problem-solving.

Ma said, “If I don’t sleep well, the problem will still be there, if I sleep, I have a better chance to fight it.”

This pandemic has made us realize the importance of sleep and how deprived one was from the corporate genre, especially an entrepreneur running a business, that made them less focused, anxious, and lacking in co-ordination and energy throughout workday factors not optimal for success.

Successful entrepreneurs like Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Tim Cook of Apple Inc., Bill Gates of Microsoft all advocate a good night sleep of 6-7-8 hour for better brain and body function. Closer home, businessmen like B K Goenka of Welspun Industries, Harsh Marwala of Marico, follow a strict sleep and exercise regimen. Not a quick nap but a 6–7-hour sleep is the norm for most entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs have to strike a balance between work and health. Sleep helps them in smart and prompt decision making, boosts memory, keeps the mind alert. An early morning meeting or a speech yields good results when the brain cells take a cat nap.

According to Indian Society for Sleep Research, (ISSR) – Sleep is a luxury gifted by nature but today’s next generation entrepreneurs are abusing it by staying awake disturbing the normal physiology. “Sleep disorders like insomnia, are common among people from corporate world, and entrepreneurs,” said Dr. Hrudananda Mallick, President, ISSR. There are ISSR accredited 160 sleep labs in India. Researchers say sleep is as important as nutrition and exercise needed for the growth and development of brain cells needed to be productive, cultivate effective leadership traits, mindfulness that comes only with 7-8 hours of sleep.

As an entrepreneur who loses practical sleep time, often resorts to poor decision making, sleep deprived entrepreneurs are unable to hold their thoughts together and resort to making risky decisions. In the face of fierce competition, market fluctuations, entrepreneurs have to be on their toes and at the top of the game which needs an alert sharp mind that could be honed only with a complete sleep cycle. Researchers say sleep helps the subconscious mind analyse the task at hand that results in informed choices and decisions.

Entrepreneurs that sleep less can develop cardiovascular diseases, obesity, diabetes, asthma, chronic pain syndrome and have anxiety issues. For a stronger immune system, sleep is most imperative, lack of adequate sleep causes negative cognitive functions resulting in premature aging of the brain. So, an entrepreneur cannot afford to lose sleep constantly, causing mental sluggishness.

Bill Gates once wrote in his blog, that in his heydays of his career, he would regularly pull all-nighters. “I knew I wasn’t as sharp when I was operating mostly on caffeine and adrenaline, but I was obsessed with my work, and I felt that sleeping a lot was lazy.” He now values his seven hours sleep and suggested that all of human race needs that much.


A ruffled mind makes a restless pillow.

- Charlotte Brontë

Sleep makes you creative

Sleep not only sharpens your mind, memories, hones your brain skills, but also helps the brain think creatively. One third of our lives is spent sleeping which is a major part of our lives, therefore adequate sleep is important to boost creativity, helps in achieving our goals by generating not only creative ideas but implementing them in the most creative method. “If the entrepreneur is creative in his ideas, it will have a ripple effect on other employees to come up with their creative best,” said a sleep analyst.

Bill Gates once said, “Even though it’s fun to stay up all night take a red eye flight, but of I have to be creative I need seven hours of sleep. I can give a speech without much sleep, I can do parts of my job that way, but in thinking creatively, I’m not much good without seen hours.”

Co-founder and editor in chief of The Huffington Post, businesswoman, Arianna Huffington started taking sleep very seriously after she lost her consciousness way back in her earlier days of her career due to sleep deprivation, and exhaustion breaking her cheekbone in the process. That inspired Arianna to write a book on sleep later in her life, namely, The Sleep Revolution. She writes that how our cultural dismissal of sleep as time wasted compromises our health and our decision-making and undermines our work lives.

In The Sleep Revolution, Arianna explores all the latest science on what exactly is going on while we sleep and dream. She takes on the sleeping pill industry, and all the ways our addiction to technology disrupts our sleep. She also offers a range of recommendations and tips from leading scientists on how we can get better and more restorative sleep, and harness its incredible power.

Entrepreneurial Insomnia

Being one’s, own boss is a stressful job much more than a 9 to 5 job, handling A to Z of your office in initial days till you establish a full-grown business, stress will be an integral part of it. Losing sleep over it will not help rather derail your growth process. It is dangerous trying to function on no sleep.

Jeff Bezos sleeps seven to eight hours per night. “I prioritize it for better thoughts.  I have more energy. My mood is better,” Bezos once said. Bezos specifically ties good sleep to his capacity to make smart decisions.

Entrepreneur insomnia is a real thing. If one finds oneself working constantly, taking longer than normal to fall asleep, or having a hard time shutting down for the day, you suffer from insomnia. Experts say Meditation, setting fix working hours, turning off all the gadgets before sleep will help overcome insomnia.

Ways to help improve sleep hours for Entrepreneurs:

A sleep schedule is important to ensure a good night’s sleep and afresh early morning for better ideas to pop up while in the shower. To get started, set an alarm at night for a reminder to get ready for bed and one alarm set to help you awake in the morning.

Prioritize work

Whether you’re launching a new business or starting at a new company, it’s vital that your sleep schedule is in place. Evaluate your workload, prioritize the most important things and figure out what you can hold off on or pass along to co-workers who have more time. Prioritizing sleep starts with prioritizing work.

Shut off the gadgets

Whether it’s your phone, laptop, ipad it needs to shut down for you to take a shut eye. Getting devices out of the room is common, though many of these entrepreneurs and executives acknowledged just how hard that can be. Instead, begin by turning off the TV or not looking at your phone for long periods of time beginning about an hour before bed.

Cutting down on sugar, exercise at night and caffeine. 

It’s okay to indulge in a cup of coffee in the morning, but it’s important to avoid consuming caffeinated drinks in the noon and evening. Cutting down on Sugars and highly processed foods throughout the day will help you get a sound night’s sleep. These foods do harm to your metabolism and insulin levels, which directly impact your sleep. Also, refraining from any big meals two hours before bed will help you sleep better. 

Declutter and preparation for tomorrow

For many entrepreneurs, its stress that keeps them awake at night and deprives them of getting enough sleep. Often, it’s that the mind just won’t stop talking or taking account of the tasks that need to be done. To counter that, many people journal and clean before bed so their brain is cool, calm, and collected when they hit the sack.

Good sleep will set you up for success from the moment you open your eyes. A well-rested mind and body are better equipped to tackle each day.

“Each night, when I go to sleep, I die. And the next morning, when I wake up, I am reborn.” – Mahatma Gandhi

It can be hard to put your rest at a high priority, especially with all the work. But it will be worth it in the long run. In fact, your body, mind and your business will thank you for it. 

Decompress Before Bed

As an entrepreneur, if you don’t deal with that stress properly via relaxation and mental processing, it’ll prevent you from getting sleep.

After a hard day’s work and before you go to bed, here’s your chance to unwind a little. Why would you want that? Well, transitioning directly from business to bed doesn’t work if you want to get better sleep. Both are two very different zones and your subconscious mind needs time and space to switch between the two. Since you’ve put your device away, you could read a book.

Alternatively, you could listen to some music, spend some time with your family or just use this time to reflect on your day. Whatever you choose to do, the main goal is spending time on your own, in a relaxed state.Furthermore, you should start dimming the lights during this time, too. This routine will take some practice, but once you do it regularly, it will help you get better sleep.

Create a Sleep-Friendly Environment

Your sleep time is precious and the quality of your sleep will determine your output for the next day. So, you need to create a quiet and peaceful environment that can instantly help you get better sleep.

Furthermore, shut off all noises by wearing earplugs when sleeping. If you have the habit of listening to something while sleeping, listen to white noise or nature sounds. Also, it’s best to have dark curtains (such as black-out curtains) installed in your bedroom to ensure you sleep in complete darkness. Alternatively, you can also consider sleeping with a nice, comfortable eye mask.

Sleep Epiphanies

Does your brain come alive at night? As an entrepreneur, you have multiple thoughts and ideas running at the same time. Hence, it is natural to have bedtime epiphanies.

Your subconscious mind will keep thinking and adding tasks to your mental to-do list. What’s more, these might be some of the best ideas you’ve ever had, coming to you at bedtime. What tends to happen is that you feel afraid you will forget these ideas and hence keep thinking about them. A simple solution is to keep a notebook beside your bed. When you can’t sleep because of a good idea, just write it down. Make sure everything noteworthy is in the notebook. This trick will reduce anxiety and help you get better sleep.

Adopting habits to Boost Productivity

You don’t have to sacrifice a proper night’s sleep to build your business. Instead, improve your day’s processes to increase your productivity. You’ll succeed when you have your time, resources, and mind working together for a better output.

Monica Behura
Monica Behura
An alumna of IIMC, Monica is a business journalist, she writes on Self Help, Personal Finance, Law, FMCG, Retail, Corporate News and HR. Her ten years of stint includes The Economic Times, The Financial Express and The Mail Daily.

Your View Matters


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by columnists are their own, not those of Dutch Uncles

If you wish to contribute or have a story suggestion,
email to [email protected]

Also Read

Mastering Impactful Communication: Essential Skills for Aspiring...

Effective communication is the lifeblood of any successful organization,...

Navigating the Path to Impactful Leadership: From...

In the ever-evolving SME/Startup landscape, the distinction between managers...

B2B Aggregators Disrupting the FMCG Distribution

The independent grocery store colloquially known as the Kirana...