Jeff Bezos is considered one of the top minds in business today, having grown Amazon from an online bookseller to the top online marketplace in the world for everything from shoes to electronics. His deep focus on customer service has become legendary, but if you think Bezos is a workaholic, think again. The CEO places a high priority on a good night's sleep, even when deadlines loom and pressure is high.
Don't cut back on sleep.
In fact, you will most likely want to increase your amount of sleep if you're one of those entrepreneurs who typically pulls 12-hour workdays or burns the midnight oil often. Bezos is one of several successful names like Sheryl Sandberg and Jennifer Lopez who have championed the restorative power of eight hours of sleep instead of overworking. In 1999, the founder told The Wall Street Journal that eight hours of sleep gives him the alertness and clarity of thought necessary to tackle each day's challenges. Instead of sacrificing rest to work around the clock, building his company, Bezos ended his day and went to bed.
"I just feel so much better all day long if I've had eight hours," he said.
Amazon's success highlights the fact that an entrepreneur can still build a successful company without working through the night constantly. While the amount of sleep necessary for mental alertness can vary from person to person, if you find that you have trouble focusing on the task at hand throughout the day, sleep deprivation could be the reason. Try putting in eight hours for a week or two and notice the difference. You may find, like Bezos, that the extra hour or two of sleep each night gives you the clear-mindedness you need to be more productive during your waking hours. (If you toss in an early morning workout, that has also been shown to make your day more productive.)
Avoid early-morning meetings.
In those early Amazon days, Bezos also stated his preference for avoiding early-morning meetings. This extra time each morning allowed him to have a healthy breakfast with his wife.
"I wanted her to get the best hours of my day," he said.
Now that the couple have four children, a work-family balance is even more important for the executive. The Bezos family is a close-knit one, which is likely in part due to Bezos's commitment to achieving a good balance between his work and personal life.
By avoiding early-morning meetings, you'll also be more likely to enjoy a restorative night's sleep, since you won't go to bed at 10 p.m. worrying about setting your alarm for 5. If you give yourself a little leeway each morning, you may find you'll be able to sleep in, enjoy leisure time with your family, and eat a healthy breakfast rather than simply guzzle coffee on a stressful morning commute.
Keep a sleeping bag in your office.
Bezos spent the early years of his career in computer science on Wall Street. While working for someone else may not have given Bezos the freedom to clock out early and get a good night's sleep, he had an interesting trick. He brought a sleeping bag to work and used it to catch some shuteye when the hours were long and the pressure was high.
If you find yourself logging extra hours, consider an alternative to giving up sleep. Short naps have shown to be beneficial to sleep-deprived workers. Find a spot in your workplace where you can take a nap when you need it and let your colleagues know you'll be power napping occasionally to give your sleepy mind a reboot. If you have a grueling commute and no family waiting at home for you, you may even want to keep a sleeping bag handy for those long nights as you work toward a big deadline. Also, investigate meditation. This increasingly popular alternative is said to decrease stress and have some of the same restorative properties as sleep.
Bezos is an example of a top leader who has earned great respect in his field. He didn't do it by depriving himself of shut-eye. By following in his footsteps, as well as adding in powerful tools like exercise and meditation, we can stay healthy while also staying on track to meet our goals.