Breaking The Sleep Myth

The National Sleep Foundation in the United States tells us that we need 8 hours of sleep a day. Your mother too, who was probably more effective in enforcing it.

Yet, all around us, we see so many anomalies, almost to the point where one wonders where scientific data stands in all of this. In particular, we see these discrepancies exist in the successful lot.


Narendra Modi and Shah Rukh Khan are said to sleep for about four hours a day. Nikola Tesla blinked his eyes open in two hours! Almost everyone who fits the conventional definition of success seems to simply sleep less. Da Vinci had another philosophy – get about 30 minutes of sleep every five hours. So if you want to be productive, sleep less and get more done, right?

Wait a minute. Jeff Bezos of Amazon and Arianna Huffington sleep for about eight hours a day. Bill Gates would stay horizontal for about seven hours. Even Obama, who ought to be fairly busy, gets about six hours. James Altucher, a financial maverick, strongly endorses the eight hour cycle.

Ok, we got it now. Maybe the key is to wake up early! Too bad Winston Churchill was nocturnal for the most part of his life and loved sleeping in through the day. Why can’t all these folks just coordinate and make up their minds?

Look around you and you’ll find enough reasons to believe that there is no one answer.

So what myth are we talking about here?

We’re talking about the myth you set up for yourself. How much sleep you do believe you need? More importantly, is your sleep coming in the way?

We tell ourselves a whole of things on a daily basis – ‘I need eight hours of sleep, I can’t stay up late, I can’t wake up early…’. All of these are stories we’ve defined for ourselves and we do everything we can to fulfil it. The myth is what we tell ourselves about the sleep we need.

Here’s the good news – you don’t have to change your sleep patterns. It’s not a necessity. If you believe you’re able to get enough done in the day and you’re satisfied, why bother? The only thing that matters is whether it’s coming in your way or not.

And if it is, what myth do you need to break for yourself?

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