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Sleep is for the Weak: Is It True?

How often do you sleep? Well, that depends on what you’ll be doing the next day, right? Do you believe that sleep is for the weak or an existential need?

If you complain about feeling sleepy during the day, you’re not alone. Nearly half of Americans feel sleepy anywhere between three to seven days every week.

Does not sleeping enough make them feel better and accomplish more at work? Probably not.

So, why do people say sleep is for the weak?

Read on to learn more about the validity of this statement.

Why People Don’t Get Adequate Sleep

While experts recommend that adults sleep for at least seven hours per night, this doesn’t always happen. Studies show that 35.3% of adults in the United States sleep for less than seven hours each night.

With a sizable list of CEOs who spend less than six hours of sleep per night, people usually believe that sleeping less is the key to success, and thus, sleep is for the weak.

Here’s a list of the world’s most successful people who barely sleep (slept):


Source: Wikipedia

Voltaire had a coffee obsession and could drink up to 40 cups in a single day before descending into a philosophized writing frenzy. Voltaire typically slept for four hours each night. It’s believed that the coffee energized him to write voluminous correspondence.

Leonardo Da Vinci

Leonardo Da Vinci







Source: Leonardo Da Vinci

The Italian artist and inventor followed an unusual sleep pattern comprising 20-minute naps at a four-hour interval. As a result, he accomplished a lot if his wealth of artwork and journals are any indication.

Thomas Edison








Source: Wikipedia

Like Da Vinci, Edison thought sleep was a massive waste of time. He napped for approximately 30 minutes, six times throughout the day, to try and free up his time for work.

Nikola Tesla

Source: Wikipedia

Tesla, the famous inventor, survived on 1.5 to 2 hours of sleep each night, from midnight to around 2 AM. This sleeping pattern ultimately led to an emotional and mental breakdown when he hit 25. He was just fine, which is why he kept creating brilliant inventions until his late thirties.

Benjamin Franklin

Source: Wikipedia

While Franklin advised people to go to bed early and rise early, he restricted his sleep schedule to under four hours in his famous “principles of order.”

Marissa Mayer

Source: Wikipedia

The CEO and President of Yahoo! Sleeps four to six hours a night but takes week-long breaks after a few months to keep up.

….And Then There’s Barack Obama

Source: Wikipedia

Barack Obama, the Former US President, could sleep for five to six hours every night, and he was insanely productive. He could go to bed around 1 AM, and by 7 AM, he’s awake.

And the list goes on.

In a Nutshell:

Most successful people slept for only a few hours. Some had 20-30 cat naps distributed throughout the day. But they all slept less for a common reason – to get plenty of things done. Most made spectacular achievements and lived long.

But there’s a caveat: Not all of the world’s greatest minds eschewed sleep, though. Albert Einstein slept for at least 10 hours. And Winston Churchill took eight hours in via his signature long afternoon nap.

So, whether you sleep for less than four hours or seven to nine hours a day, sleep is crucial.

The Importance of Sleep

Sleep plays a crucial part in our well-being and health throughout life. Thus, getting adequate sleep at the right time goes a long way to protect your physical health, mental health, safety, and quality of life.

How you feel when awake depends partly on what happens in your sleep. When sleeping, the body maintains physical health and enhances healthy brain function. In kids and teens, sleep enhances growth and development.

The effects of sleep deficiency can catch up with you instantly or over time. Not only can sleep deficiency increase the risk of chronic health problems, but it can also affect how you work, think, learn, react, or interact with others.

Sleep – for healthy brain function

Improves Brain Function and Emotional Health

Sleep enables the brain to function properly. When you sleep, the brain starts to prepare for the following day. It forms new pathways to enable you to learn and retain information.

A sound sleep enhances learning. Whether you’d like to know how to drive a car, play guitar, or swim, sleep comes in to make you learn better and boost your problem-solving skills.

Besides, sleeps helps you make decisions, concentrate well, and be creative.

On the other hand, if you are sleep-deprived, you may experience problems solving problems, making decisions, coping with change, and controlling behavior and emotions. Additionally, there’s a link between sleep deprivation and suicide, depression, and risk-taking behavior.

Promotes Physical Health

Sleep is essential to physical health. For instance, it’s involved in the repair and healing of your blood vessels and heart. Constant sleep deficiency may increase the risk of kidney disease, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and stroke.

Sleep helps in maintaining a healthy balance in hormones responsible for making you feel full (leptin) or hungry (ghrelin). When you get inadequate sleep, leptin levels reduce, and ghrelin levels increase.

The outcome? You become hungrier than when you have enough sleep.

Sleep affects the way the body reacts to insulin – a hormone known to regulate blood sugar levels. Inadequate sleep may lead to spikes in blood sugar levels, increasing your diabetes risk.

Besides, sleep enhances healthy and normal growth and development. Specifically, deep sleep triggers a child or teen’s body to release the hormone responsible for normal growth. Also, this hormone boosts muscle growth and promotes cell and tissue repair in adults, children, and teens.

What’s more, sleep helps to keep your immune system healthy. This system fights harmful or foreign substances in the body.

Thus, ongoing sleep deficiency may alter how the immune system operates. For instance, if you’re sleep-deprived, you might have problems combating common infections.

Improves Daytime Productivity

Getting adequate sleep can help you function well during the day. According to a survey by Philips, 61% of adults worldwide believe that they have a bad memory after not sleeping well. Also, 75% admit reduced production after sleep deprivation the previous night.

How Much Sleep Is Enough?

Sleep needs may vary from one person to another based on age. Typically, children require more sleep than adults for proper functioning.

The table below shows the recent recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Age Recommended Sleep Time (Hours)
0 – 3 months 14 – 17
4 – 12 months 12 – 16
1 – 2 years 11 – 14
3 – 5 years 10 – 13
6 – 12 years 9 – 12
13 – 18 years 8 – 10
18 – 64  years 7 – 9
65+ years 7 – 8

Easy Ways to Help You Get More Sleep

  • Go to bed and get up at the same time each day. For kids, establish a bedtime and a routine leading to bedtime.
  • Keep off the screen an hour to bedtime. The light may signal to your brain that’s time to be awake.
  • Be physically active and spend time outside during the day (when possible).
  • Try to maintain the same sleep schedule on weekends and weeknights. The difference shouldn’t be more than an hour.
  • Take a hot bath or try relaxation tricks before bedtime.
  • Avoid caffeine and nicotine at night as they are stimulants.
  • Keep the bedroom, cool, quiet, and dark (or dimly lit). 

Conclusion: Is Sleep for the Weak?

No, sleep isn’t for weak. Sleep is for strong people who understand its powerful impact on their health and work life.

Sure, many people have achieved incredible success after sleeping for less than the recommended time. But we also have numerous successful stores of people who took their sleep times seriously. 

And studies have also shown the link between sleep deprivation and severe health problems. 

In sum, sleep is crucial to our physical, mental, and emotional well-being. So, try to get adequate sleep according to the recommendations in the table above.


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