“Finish each day before you begin the next, and interpose a solid wall of sleep between the two.”
American transcendentalist thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson shared these words of wisdom long before modern science proved the many reasons why a good night’s sleep is so critical to our health.
During sleep, the brain’s waste removal system is 10 times more active than during wakefulness, literally restoring the mind for the day ahead. While it’s taking out the trash, so to speak, the body works to repair brain cells, reinforce new memories, and even learn new motor skills. Logging enough hours between the sheets each night also does wonders for helping our bodies relieve stress, fight inflammation, maintain healthy body fat levels and ultimately live longer.
Despite the irrefutable evidence of why we should all be getting more shut-eye, nearly half of Americans get less than the recommended amount of sleep each night. When life gets busy, sleep tends to fall to the bottom of our priority lists, leaving our minds and bodies stressed, sick and burned-out.
But that's starting to change: more and more successful people are acknowledging that pretty much any goal is easier to accomplish after a good night's rest. Here are 14 highly successful (and busy) people who make sure to prioritize sleep.
Facebook COO and Lean In author Sheryl Sandberg spent years thinking that the best way to cross more things of her to-do list was to simply add more hours to the day by sleeping less. However, becoming a mother helped her realize that sleep is far more valuable that she previously thought, and the tech executive now makes an effort to sleep seven to eight hours each night.
“"It turns out, when children get enough sleep, everything's fine," she said in a HuffPost Live interview. "And when children don't, nothing is. I realized... I'm like that, too!"
This singer, who knows how to work a crowd with her fierce dances moves and energetic stage performance, insists that eight hours of sleep is her secret weapon. Even after giving birth to twins in 2008, Lopez didn’t have to wait very long for her little ones settled into their nightly routine and allow her to log a good night’s sleep, too.
The importance of sleep is not lost on the founder of Amazon.com. In fact, he was logging eight hours a night 15 years ago, long before the current conversations about sleep deprivation and burnout began.
“I’m more alert and I think more clearly,” Bezos told the Wall Street Journal. “I just feel so much better all day long if I’ve had eight hours.”
The comedian and television host, who has recommended Arianna Huffington’s latest book Thrive to everyone she knows, makes sure to prioritize the well-being component of the Third Metric of success in her life by focusing on getting enough sleep each night.
“I’m usually asleep by 11 p.m. and up around 7:30 a.m.,” she told People. “It’s a lot!”
The Dalai Lama
His Holiness famously said, “Sleep is the best meditation,” and he certainly lives by that sentiment. In a 2012 interview with Arianna Huffington, the Dalai Lama said he sleeps soundly for eight -- sometimes nine -- hours each night so he can feel completely rested the following day. He insists sleep is necessary for maintaining a calm, relaxed mind during the day.
The founder and managing director of STS Capital Partners lives a California lifestyle, starting with a full night’s sleep. He told the BBC that if he doesn’t get eight hours of sleep at night, he has trouble functioning the following day.
After becoming a mom, actress and author Jessica Alba began focusing on what it meant to lead a healthy, sustainable and natural life. Reducing stress was at the top of her list, and sleeping around eight hours each night played an important role in making that possible.
“You can sleep, it’s possible -- it’s about putting your kid on a schedule instead of letting them run you,” the new mom told Well+Good.
The celebrated rapper decided to start 2014 by putting his health first, and one of the major changes he made was to prioritize sleep. Ross's weight, eating habits and sleep deprivation increased his risk of stroke, diabetes and cancer, and he knew his ability to sleep only two hours at a time needed to change. In a HuffPost Live interview, Ross encouraged young artists to not rush their success and forget that other parts of life matter, too.
"I had to get more sleep," Ross told HuffPost Live. "I had a problem with sleeping more than two hours at a time... I had to slow down a little bit, but it was for the better. I wouldn't change it. I learned something."
Oscar-winning actor Matthew McCounaughey not only believes in the science of gratitude, but also in the power of full night’s rest. He told People that he needs eight and a half hours of sleep each night to perform at his best the next day.
While the former chief executive of Microsoft used to work through the night in his office, he realized that he couldn’t enjoy a high quality of life when he relied only on midday naps for rest.
“I like to get seven hours of sleep a night because that’s what I need to stay sharp and creative and upbeat,” he said in a Microsoft FAQ.
He may be the most successful investor of the 20th century, but Warren Buffett tells those around him to choose sleep over extra profits. In fact, when he arrived at Salomon Brothers in the early 1990s as an advisor, Buffett told every worker in the New York City office, “Why don’t you go home and get a good night’s rest and we’ll meet again tomorrow.”
In her new health book, The Body Book, Diaz makes one thing clear: She wants everyone to get better sleep. She designed a bedtime ritual of her own to make sure she wakes up feeling well-rested and refreshed each morning -- and if she can do it, she thinks others can, too.
“People have a hard time sleeping and sleep is so important,” Diaz told Ryan Seacrest. “Repair to our body happens when we are sleeping and a lot of people aren’t getting to REM sleep... a lot of it is because we sit on screens.”
This acclaimed actress knows that shut-eye is critical for keeping her mind and her body in tip-top shape. She aims to sleep at least eight hours each night and credits her healthy, glowing skin to that time for beauty rest.
“I love to sleep,” Berry told People. "When I’m rested, I’m at my best."
After collapsing from exhaustion and burnout in 2007, Huffington Post Media Group president and editor-in-chief Arianna Huffington realized it was time to make some major lifestyle changes, starting with sleep. She embarked on a sleep challenge in 2010 to log seven to eight hours each night instead of her past measly four to five hours. Sleep and success are inextricably linked in her Third Metric vision -- so much that she tells women to "sleep their way to the top -- literally!"