Famous People Whose Sleep Habits Would Make You Nuts

You may have heard the near apocryphal stories of geniuses and titans who get by on little sleep. The topic is so curious and outside what most people would think possible that even a U.K. window blinds company pulled together some sources and assembled a compendium of successful people who sleep little. But evidence suggests that for most people, cutting short sleep is a sure way to lower their chances of success, or even living longer.

Martha Stewart claims to sleep only four hours a night, according to the New York Daily News, and Donald Trump says he's asleep only three to four hours. Genius inventor and Thomas Edison-rival Nicola Tesla said that he rested five hours a night, which included only two hours of sleep, according to John J. O'Neill's biography, Prodigal Genius: The Life of Nicola Tesla.

And then there are the polyphasic sleepers who doze in unusual patterns, according to Business Insider UK. Rather than a single large block of sleep, these people break up rest throughout the day. Polymath Buckminster Fuller developed a schedule that involved a 30-minute nap every six hours, for a total two hours of sleep a day. Fuller said he kept this up for an extended period of time until he had to quit because his wife complained.

Another documented polyphasic schedule is the Uberman sleep cycle, reportedly used by Leonardo da Vinci, according to Business Insider. You take a 20-minute nap every four hours for a total of three hours of sleep a day. Not easy for many people.

Made to Measure BlindsRetailer Made to Measure Blinds put together this graphic exploring the sleeping habits of the rich and famous.

There are also many myths surrounding sleep. For example, some claim that Thomas Jefferson used an Uberman cycle, but according to his own writings, as noted by Monticello.org, the third President of the United States said that he slept between five and eight hours a night, "according as my company or the book I am reading interests me."

There are also many successful people -- including the Dalai Lama, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, comedian Ellen Degeneres, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, investor Warren Buffett, and media executive Arianna Huffington -- who believe in getting more "normal" amounts of sleep, according to the Huffington Post. In other words, it's completely possible to excel at life and in business without burning the candle at both ends.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults from 25 to 64 years old typically need 7 to 9 hours, although as little as 6 and as much as 10 can be within a normal range. Some people will comfortably sleep much less, and some may need much more.

There are people who sleep far less than they might actually need. "These celebrities and politicians getting by on less sleep ... we know that many of them are ingesting large quantities of caffeine," Barry Krakow, author of Sound Sleep, Sound Mind: 7 Keys to Sleeping Through the Night, told the Daily News. "And I guarantee you they could not get by without that."

There is a danger in arbitrarily trying to sleep significantly less if you are not one of those whose genetics demand a normal amount of sleep. U.K. banker Antonio Horta-Osorio, CEO of Lloyds Banking Group, had to temporarily step down from his position because of sleep deprivation, according to the Telegraph. "I started sleeping less, slowly, slowly, slowly, and by the end it was going very quickly. It's like your battery getting close to zero," he told the paper.

Research by neuroscientist Russell Foster and his colleagues has suggested potential links between sleep levels, the action of certain genes, and a predisposition toward mental illness, according to the TED Talks website. Sleep deprivation has some significant consequences, including increased numbers of accidents, impairment of attention and thinking, health problems, an increase in depression, memory problems, weight gain, and increased risk of death. So do yourself and everyone else a favor and go sleep as much as you really need to.
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