Sleep Deprivation & Celebrities: Some Don’t Sleep, But Should

Celebrities & Sleep Deprivation: Some Don't Sleep, But Should

Being successful often means compromises, and many successful celebrities admit that they do not sleep much. While some claim to not need more than a few hours a night, others forego essential rest to juggle work and a social life. With only 24 hours in a day it can be difficult for anyone to fit everything they need or want to do, however rest is vitally important for every person, celebrity or not.

Celebrities Who Don’t Get Enough Sleep

With an impressive list of CEO’s who sleep less than six hours a night, including Donald Trump, Martha Stewart, and Marissa Mayer, as well as President Bill Clinton, and  Jay Leno, people often believe that it is the key to success. Some of the people noted for their short bouts of slumber admit to feeling less than energized or taking a break to catch up occasionally, while others seem to go on that way for years.

Donald Trump  – “How does somebody that’s sleeping 12 and 14 hours a day compete with someone that’s sleeping three or four?” The Donald says he sleeps less than four hours per night, which he believes has contributed to his success.

Lady Gaga – “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”. The singer also mentioned to OK! Magazine in 2010 that she hadn’t slept in 3 days due to a very overactive mind.

Rihanna – Tweeted about her difficulty resting after touring in 2011, mentioning getting less than 3 hours a night for several weeks.

David Ortiz – The Boston Red Sox hitter reported difficulty turning his mind off and getting to sleep, blamed for a massive slide in his performance.

Marissa Mayer – The president and CEO of Yahoo! boasts about sleeping 4-6 hours a night, but keeps up by taking week-long breaks every few months.

Martha Stewart  – The domestic queen has said she sleeps around 4 hours a night before getting down to business, since “Sleep is not the most important thing.”

Jay Leno – A fitting habit the host of The Late Show, the comedian sleeps about five hours per night

Kelly Ripa – The talk show hostess and mother reported averaging less than 6 hours of rest per night in a Good Housekeeping interview.

Madonna – According to BBC, Madonna reported back in 2001 that she rarely gets more than four hours of sleep as she is preoccupied with thoughts of getting stuff done.

Barack Obama – The Commander in Chief is said to be a night owl, sleeping less than 6 hours a night.

Bill Clinton – The former president had a habit of sleeping 4-6 hours a night since college, but after his heart surgery, he said getting by on less sleep proves more difficult in 2009 a New York Times article.

Famous Historical Light Sleepers also include:

  • Nikola Tesla – would go on as little as 2 hours of sleep while working on an invention, followed by sleep binges.
  • Thomas Edison – thought more than 5 hours of sleep was inefficient, unproductive and indulgent, but was said to be a frequent napper. Tesla and Edison actually competed publicly on the issue of who could sleep less.
  • Benjamin Franklin – despite his advice that people should sleep early and rise early, Franklin himself restricted his own sleep to less than 4 hours in his “principles of order”.
  • Thomas Jefferson – another great mind who also was said to sleep around two hours a day.
  • Other successful people like Albert Einstein slept 10 or more hours, and Winston Churchill got his 8 hours in by taking a long afternoon nap, going to show that not all great minds eschewed sleep.

Sleep Deprivation and Your Body

Although there are a few people who really can get by on less than 5 hours of rest with few consequences, these so called “short sleepers” are around 5% of the population. For the vast majority of people, including celebrities, chronic sleep loss and fatigue can be dangerous for long-term health, and can slow reaction time and mental performance in the near-term. While it may seem like you are more productive on less shuteye, for most people it is simply not true – your mental clarity and decision making skills are impaired, and there are changes occurring within your body that you may not even realize.

For example, the genes that control your immune system are affected by sleep deprivation as shown by a recent study by the University of Surrey in the UK. Sleep deprivation tests were conducted on 26 healthy young adults over two weeks, one with longer sleep and one with shorter. The shorter sleep durations averaged 5 hours, 42 minutes sleeping, while on the lengthier nights they averaged 8 hours 30 minutes of sleep. They conducted a host of tests on participants under both conditions, and found that, with sleep deprivation, over 700 genes showed changes, with 267 becoming more active, and 444 becoming suppressed.

An alarming finding from the study was the conclusion that your body begins to suffer the consequences of sleep loss quite quickly, with even minor changes. Researchers indicated the most significant effect on genes that control the immune system, cell damage, and stress, highlighting the importance of rest in fighting illness and degenerative diseases.

Circadian rhythms, the body’s response to stress, and metabolism were affected. As disrupted circadian rhythms impact the ability to fall asleep and rise, sleep loss can quickly escalate. Several other studies have indicated that sleep loss can increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, obesity, premature skin aging, depression and stress as well.

Other studies have focused on how sleep deprivation affects mental clarity, coordination, and mental/physical performance, showing detrimental results with even minimal sleep loss. Another important figure to consider is that drowsy driving is responsible for at least 100,000 accidents a year, resulting in over 1500 deaths,according to the NHTSA.

Tips for Improving Sleep Quality

Sleep quality and duration are important for success, even people who get by on fewer hours require quality. The following tips can help you get find ways to get better sleep.

  • Circadian rhythms can be reset by following a regular waking/sleeping cycle, including on weekends and days off. Daytime exposure to sunlight and darkness at night helps improve the body’s production of melatonin, a hormone that helps you feel drowsy at bedtime.
  • Plan enough time for rest so you aren’t stressed or anxious. Most people feel best with 7-9 hours of sleep, although there are exceptions.
  • Exercise has been shown to have a positive long term effect on sleep duration. One study showed that over a 4-month period, people who exercised added approximately 45 minutes of rest per night, comparable to the effect of sleeping aids.
  • Although sunlight is beneficial, there are times that light can disrupt rest. If your schedule has you sleeping past sunrise, eliminating exterior sources of light through the use of light-blocking shades can be helpful.
  • Develop a routine that helps you prepare for sleep approximately an hour prior to bedtime. Turn off the television and computers, lower lights, enjoy a light snack and relax in a warm bath. These actions typically induce drowsiness, helping you to fall asleep quicker and easier.
  • Make sure your mattress is in good shape and that your sleep environment is comfortable, and not causing you to toss and turn.

With 30% people throughout the U.S. reporting that they receive a maximum of 6 hours per night, accidents and health problems related to sleep loss are likely to continue increasing unless sleep hygiene is taken more seriously and the myth of success being incompatible with sleep fades. While some celebrities claim they get by on little rest due to superhuman energy reserves, many also nap and take plenty of time to relax. Others don’t sleep due to insomnia or hectic schedules, and eventually burn out due to exhaustion. The best approach, rather than trying to emulate bad habits of celebrities, is to focus on healthy sleep habits and as well as stress and time management during the day.

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