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How Your Sleep Stacks Up Against Elon Musk’s

There’s a romanticized view of the tortured genius CEO. You know the one, staying up until all hours of the night, sleeping only three hours every few days, and running themselves into the ground based on the vision for their company. Well, that view has gone the way of the dinosaurs. With a recent string of executives reporting their sleep habits, we now see that these business leaders all value rest above almost anything else.

Elon is no exception. In a recent AMA on Reddit, Musk reported that he sleeps, “almost exactly six hours every night.” While that is less than the amount prescribed by most sleep scientists – which hovers somewhere between seven and nine hours a night – it does fall within the acceptable limits of sleep for most people. In a time when so many are experiencing sleep debt, it’s important to analyze what this data means, how it affects you, and what you can do to make sure that you’re getting at least as much as the South African genius who is responsible for all those electric cars.

What Happens When You Sleep Less than Elon

Sleeping less than Elon is not… ideal. Pretty much every sleep scientist agrees that if you skimp on sleep, you run the risk of making some bad decisions, hurting your physical health, and even could up your risk of long term health problems.

In addition to a less effective neocortex, which is the brain’s decision making center, there are plenty of scary long term health effects of not sleeping at least six hours. A recent sleep study showed that people who slept less than six hours a day had a 30% higher risk of increased belly fat and high blood sugar, a 56% higher chance of hypertension, and a reported “lower quality of life.”  

“The strength of this study is that it is a prospective study, which means short sleep was associated with the development of metabolic syndrome,” said Kristen Knutson, a researcher on the project. “This is important because the sleep duration was measured before the people had the disease.”

What Happens When You Sleep More than Elon

If you’re beating Elon to the bed every night, then it could mean great things for your brain. Sure, you might not come up with the next SpaceX program, but you can rest easy knowing that your brain is at peak capacity. When we sleep at least seven hours, our memories become sharper, we increase our empathy, we have better control of our emotions, and we make better decisions.

A recent study showed that “unconscious thought” (the thoughts we have while we sleep) actually can play into the way we decision make in real life. Your brain doesn’t just rest while you sleep, on the contrary, it is vitally busy with processes that can affect your decisions during your waking hours. In the study, scientists found that those who slept more were able to better identify potential problems and find solutions than those who stayed awake trying to solve them.

So there you have it, Elon is the barrier. If you’re sleeping less than he is, maybe take some time out to get it right — even Elon has to sleep sometime. If you’re sleeping more, then that’s great. It means you’re human just like the rest of us. The jury is still out on Elon.

 

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