Sleep Less for Success – Business Insomnia |

Sleep Less for Success – Business Insomnia

By QS Contributor

Updated September 2, 2019 Updated September 2, 2019

What do Marissa Mayer (Yahoo’s CEO), Indira Nooyi (Chairman & CEO of Pepsico), Barack Obama, Condoleeza Rice (Former US secretary of state), Thomas Edison (inventor), Jay Leno (TV host) and Shah Rukh Khan (Bollywood superstar) have in common?

Give up?

They all sleep or slept for only three-four hours a night. These are just a few of the numerous successful people around the world whose time management regimen barely allows them to get any sleep. Donald Trump once asked, “How does somebody that's sleeping 12 and 14 hours a day compete with someone that's sleeping three or four?".

It’s a valid question, albeit one with an obvious answer. You can’t! There is no competition there. Even if the person who sleeps only three-four hours a day goofs around for a few hours here and there, they would still be in a better position to work towards being more successful! Now let us not get into the argument of what success means. It clearly means different things to different people. To me, success might be providing an excellent education to each and every child on the planet and to others it might mean owning a private jet, an island and an Aston Martin. Both need crazy numbers of hours to be invested from the pool of time you have been given on this earth.

Utilizing time management to sleep less

So the question really boils down to – how do you use time management skills to maximize the time you have? After only two weeks here at the Darden School of Business, I came to realize that the only way to do this is sleep less!

Between your morning jog at seven in the morning to the afternoon of rigorous classes, two hours of club meetings, sessions and even some human interactions/pleasantries, four hours of individual case study prep (for someone without a business background), two-three hours of evening learning team meetings, at least an hour of case review after getting back home at night, a couple of hours of getting through your email inbox and internet related activities (aka Facebook), two hours for all those mundane chores like eating, getting ready, cooking, and even with excellent time management skills you realize that you are only left with barely five hours to sleep. And I have not even included things that are yet to come that will cause me to sleep less still, like exams, a definite ramp-up in cases and course rigor, recruiting, networking dinners with classmates and professors from the Darden School of Business, company briefings, networking calls, company research, reach-out emails, case competitions, job treks, club activities and meetings, international food days and numerous other things which I am pretty sure I can’t think of or even know about right now.

Don’t give up success for sleep

After a week of telling yourself that you are made for Darden School of Business and belong among a bunch of type A super achievers, combined with the fear of missing out (FOMO, another post on this coming soon), you start burning out. Averaging five hours of sleep a night, you decide that you don’t want to continue this way. So the first thing to go off your list is the morning jog. You start feeling great about waking up at 7:45am and still making it to my first class at Darden School of Business on time. And then ‘Hypnos’ and ‘Somnus’, the Greek and Roman gods of sleep, lure you into sleeping a few more minutes every morning. Having skipped my morning jog three days in a row this week, I feel like I need a reality check. Every time I wondered how I could increase the time I had in a day, the only answer I got was to wake up earlier! But those first few minutes of waking up are harder than they seem, right? You feel like the world is conspiring against you and you are the only one fighting for your right to press snooze on your horrid iPhone alarm and amend your time management for more sleep. But I have to admit, once I did wake up and went for that jog, the whole world seemed like the most beautiful place there ever was. The pictures from my jog will vouch for that!

We may or may not become the Donald Trumps or the Marissa Mayers of the world when we grow old, but I sure do think we should strive towards getting some great stuff done. This might mean that I sleep less in the next few months and years to come. That brings me to the real question we all need to ask ourselves when our alarm goes off in the mornings – to sleep or to not sleep?

About Archana Rao

Archana Rao is pursuing an MBA at Darden and will spend the summer at the Boston Consulting Group in management consulting. Prior to this she was a Teach for India fellow, maximizing holistic student achievement and championing women empowerment in low income communities. She also worked in IT project management and corporate sustainability at the HSBC Bank post pursuing electronics and telecommunication engineering. She created a Post-it cartooning website and enjoys blogging.

This article was originally published in June 2014 . It was last updated in September 2019

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