Insurance · 3 December 2015

The small business advent calendar: 3 December – Another door is opened

Over the days leading up to Christmas we’ll be revealing one juicy morsel of small business reading every day
Over the days leading up to Christmas we’ll be revealing one juicy morsel of small business reading every day

Behind the third door of the advent calendar bursting with business trivia is a billionaire who gets less sleep than you’d think.

Today’s instalment of festive enterprise cheer features the news that Donald Trump can survive on three hours of slumber a night – and thinks that it makes him more productive.

In his 2004 book “Think Like a Billionaire”, the tycoon told readers: “I have friends who are successful and sleep ten hours a night, and I ask them, ‘How can you compete against people like me?’”

Trump isn’t alone in achieving business success by staying awake for longer than average – Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer regularly copes with only closing her eyes for four to six hours a night.

And research by psychologists at the University of Leeds published in October 2015 suggested that many UK adults are also getting less than the recommended eight hours – with almost 25 per cent of 30-to-50 year-olds sleeping for less than five hours per night.

Unlike Trump, though, those surveyed thought sleep deprivation had a negative impact on their productivity – and less than half were satisfied with the amount of sleep they regularly got.

It is estimated that only around five per cent of the world are naturally “short sleepers”, who can perform well despite getting less rest than everyone else – though entrepreneur and author Tim Ferriss has claimed that he was able to reduce the amount of sleep his body needed by employing tricks like caffeine naps and cold baths.

Yet not all business leaders are willing to sacrifice pillow time for business success. Instagram founder Kevin Systrom told the Financial Times (FT) in 2012 that he needed eight hours to function – and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is a fervent advocate of getting plenty of rest.

Simon Johnson, a professor of entrepreneurship at MIT Sloan School of Management, is skeptical of entrepreneurs who pride themselves on getting little sleep. “If sleep were really so unimportant, why do successful people pay high prices for seats that go flat on long-haul flights?” he told the FT.

Come back tomorrow to discover what surprising fact is hidden behind the forth door of our Small Business Advent Calendar.

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Hannah Wilkinson is a reporter for Business Advice. She studied economics and management at Oxford University and prior to joining Business Advice wrote for Kensington and Chelsea Today about business and economics – as well as running a tutoring company.

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