What 17 Successful People Read Before Bed

Eyeglasses and book on nightstand
By Rachel Sugar

The moments before sleep can provide a rare retreat from a jam-packed day for highly successful people.

For many CEOs, execs, and other high achievers, the day begins extremely early and is crammed with emails, meetings, and events. But the evenings can be a time to unwind with a good book. Or a magazine. Or newspaper. Some of them even curl up with their email.

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From paperbacks to tweets, here's what 17 super successful people read before calling it a night.

Alison Griswold contributed to a previous version of this article.
What 17 successful people read before bed
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What 17 Successful People Read Before Bed

Back in the 90s, Microsoft's cofounder told the Seattle Times that he considers reading at night to be "part of falling asleep."

He loves good books (here's his 2015 summer reading list) and his reading topics range from public health to the history of shipping containers. Gates considers himself a very fast reader, despite never taking a speed-reading course.

"I'm somewhat obsessed with ancient philosophy, mostly Plato, Socrates, and Xenophon," the Wall Street Journal writer told The Wire in 2013. He said he does most of this type of reading before going to bed. "Unless it's Sunday night," he added, "in which case I'm watching 'The Walking Dead' or 'Homeland.'"

Huffington is well known for taking sleep seriously, and she doesn't mess around when it comes to her evening reading routine.

The Huffington Post founder recommends banning electronic devices like iPads, Kindles, and laptops from the bedroom and says she only reads the old-fashioned way, with print books.

The Danish programmer and creator of the programming language Ruby on Rails consumes the same tech-filled fare in the evenings as he does each morning.

He told Business Insider that his daily round consists of Reddit, Hacker News, Engadget, the Economist, Boing Boing, and Twitter.

Friedman, the cofounder and CEO of Open Road Integrated Media and former CEO of publishing giant HarperCollins, is fastidious about her email.

"No matter when I get home at night — and it's usually late — I do at least an hour or two of email," Friedman told Fortune in 2006. "I have this thing about reading all my emails."

The freelance journalist and New York Magazine columnist once told The Wire that she uses the evenings to read articles she hasn't gotten to during the day.

That's usually five or six shorter pieces and one or two longform articles. She also will sometimes read a book for work, and tries to break all of it up with fiction when possible.

Seriel entrepreneur Whitehill told Business Insider that he spends his nights reading 40 pages from whatever his current book is and scrolling through articles on politics, business, and culture.

He also scans the business and tech sections of the New York Times and the national and sports verticals of USA Today.

The activist, philosopher, and professor takes his bedtime reading very seriously.

"I have to read all night; I have to be real fresh for class" he told the New York Times in 2010, when he was a professor at Priceton (he's now at Union Theological Seminary).

"I like to read two or three hours every night. Right now I'm reading Robert Brandom, one of the great pragmatic American philosophers," he said at the time. "I read until 2, 2:30 a.m. I don't really need that much sleep."

The founder and CEO of Buffer is committed to disengaging before sleep — and he advises others to do the same.

"Once in bed, do not read books which are related to your work in any way," he suggested in a 2011 blog post. "For me, this means reading fiction."

Renowned New York City casting director Telsey works right up until bedtime, he told the New York Times in 2014, and that means doing a very specific kind of dramatic reading.

"I’m reading scripts or casting notices or making more lists," he said. "I stay up until 1 a.m. doing email. I do just fine with five hours' sleep."

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