Are you naturally a short sleeper? Are you both an early bird and night owl? Do you stay up late and wake up early and not feel tired? A small percent of the population, about 1% to 3%, have the sleepless elite gene (aka an amazing superpower) that enables them to hack their sleep cycle and only sleep 2-6 hours a day. These members of the sleepless elite never oversleep or sleep in, even on weekends. They only need a few short hours of sleep per day.
So what do they do while everyone else is sleeping? Members of the sleepless elite are some of the most successful members of our society. Instead of using their extra time at night for recreation, many natural short sleepers focus on productive endeavors. From tech founders and presidents to TV hosts and politicians, here are some of the most famous members of the sleepless elite in history.
Jim Cramer: Host of CNBC’s Mad Money and founder of TheStreet.com
Cramer told Business Insider that he usually only gets about 4 hours of sleep per night. The Mad Money host typically wakes up at 4 am and rarely needs the assistance of an alarm clock. Jim also says that his father was the same way.
Thomas Edison: Inventor
Edison was once famously quoted saying that sleep was a “waste of time”. The inventor only needed about 3-4 hours of sleep per day.
Nikola Tesla: Inventor
Thomas Edison’s biggest rival, Nikola Tesla, was also a famous sleepless elite member. According to his Tesla biography, he only slept an astonishing 2 hours per day. He was known to conduct many of his experiments at night.
Barack Obama: Former President of The United States
While in the White House, former Barack Obama only slept about 6 hours a night. His typical times were between 1:00 am and 7:00 am. As a result, his staff had to carefully manage what issues were important enough to wake him up and deprive him of sleep.
Tom Ford: Fashion designer
The former fashion director at Gucci helped grow the value of the company by 90% under his leadership. On an average night, Ford got very little sleep, only about 3 hours.
Marissa Mayer: Yahoo CEO
Jack Dorsey: Twitter founder, and Square CEO
Being the CEO of two prominent tech companies is very demanding. Dorsey typically spends about 8-10 hours a day each at both Twitter and Square. That leaves just a few short hours for sleep, and everything else.
Jay Leno: Comedian, former host of “The Tonight Show”
When he wasn’t hosting his late-night talk show, Leno was constantly performing at comedy clubs. He often averaged around 150 standup performances per year. With all of these late evening gigs and his talk shows, Leno typically only slept about 5 hours per night.
Martha Stewart: Chair of Martha Stewart Omnimedia
Martha Stewart has turned home living into a powerful media empire. With a TV show, radio show, multiple product lines, and four magazines, there’s not much time left to sleep. Luckily she doesn’t need much. Stewart is a true short sleeper and sleeps less than 4 hours a night.
Jesse Redniss: Executive Pice President, data strategy and product innovation at Turner
Jesse Redniss is one of the most innovative people in the media industry. While at NBC Universal as senior vice president of digital at USA Network, he drove market and revenue growth across online, social, gaming, second screen, and mobile platforms. His award-winning tenure at NBC Universal included notable campaigns like Psych‘s #HashTagKiller, White Collar: 36 Hours and launching an industry first, second screen content syndication platform called USA Sync. In his current role at Turner Broadcasting, he’s tasked with developing and executing data strategy across Turner’s massive global portfolio of entertainment, sports and news properties. Balancing his innovative career and family is easier with a few extra hours a day. Redniss only sleeps between 4-6 hours a night.
Indra Nooyi: CEO of PepsiCo
Early in her career, Nooyi worked a graveyard receptionist job while getting her degree at Yale University. This short sleep pattern continued later into her career. She typically only gets about 4 hours of sleep a night.
Bill Clinton: Former President of The United States
While he was president, Bill Clinton only slept about 5 hours per night. Clinton had to increase his sleep schedule after having heart surgery.
Helena Morrissey: CEO of Newton Investment Management
Morrissey is the definition of a supermom. Not only is she the CEO of a global investment company, but she has nine kids. Her workday starts at 5 am, or earlier before her kids wake up. She then continues working later after they go to bed. Even with all of this, she usually only gets about 6 hours of sleep.
Sergio Marchionne: Fiat CEO
Stanley McChrystal: Former U.S. general
Not only does McChrystal only need about 4 hours of sleep at night, but he only eats one meal per day. Maybe he’s also a robot?
Dominic Orr: President, and CEO of Aruba Networks
Orr sleeps about 4 hours a night and works both before dawn and into the evening. Before Aruba Networks, Orr often worked 18-hour days at HP.
Herb Kelleher: Co-founder of Southwest Airlines
Kelleher helped grow Southwest Airlines from the ground up. During his time at the company, it was reported that he only slept 4 hours a night.
Donald Trump: Chairman of The Trump Organization and President Of The United States
Trump only sleeps 3-4 hours a night. The lack of sleep is part of his work ethic. He believes the extra time gives him a competitive advantage. It also explains why he would often tweet in the middle of the night.
Benjamin Franklin: Founding father of the United States and inventor
According to Franklin’s autobiography, his daily sleep schedule only consisted of 5 hours a night, from 11:00 pm to 4:00 am.
Margaret Thatcher: Former British Prime Minister
Thatcher was Great Britain’s longest-serving Prime Minister. She also reportedly only slept for about 4 hours each night.
How To Become A Member Of The Sleepless Elite?
Wondering how to hack your sleep cycle like these famous sleepless elite members? Sadly you can’t. Even though researchers have identified the hDEC2 sleepless elite gene, artificially creating a sleepless elite mutation is not something that science is capable of right now.
But after analyzing this list of members of the famous sleepless elite, the idea of short sleeping might sound very appealing. Getting just a little less sleep each day might give you extra time and an edge in your quest to become successful. Just be careful that you don’t overdo it when adjusting your sleep habits. Depriving your body of the shut-eye (aka sleep deprivation) can lead to all sorts of serious health and wellness problems including obesity and erectile dysfunction.
What happens when you don’t get enough sleep? Here are some common problems experienced by both men and women who suffer from a lack of sleep.